Security Clearance Process Key Challenge for Military Cyber Forces

Military cyber defensive and offensive capabilities are far greater now than they were in the past, but the lengthy security clearance process has proved a challenge for the ever-expanding cyber mission, several senior commanders told a Senate panel this week.

The Navy has decided to begin moving the process earlier in a sailor’s career so that by the time they have the technical qualifications for a position they also have made it through the lengthy process, said Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, commander of United States Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet, according to

Gilday praised Trump’s cyber security executive order as “a good step” in providing standards that would better secure the nation on the cyber front.

The Marines have also made adjustments so that they are able to operate securely with their trained cyber specialists.

“We are having to adjust [but] for the first time we’re building a [cyber] MOS in the Marine Corps,” Maj. Gen. Lori Reynolds, commander Marine Forces Cyberspace Command, told the Senate Armed Services cyber subcommittee.

Standards already exist to train the National Mission Teams, Cyber Mission Force, and Defense Cyber Forces, and their initial training is standard throughout the services, testified Coast Guard Vice Adm. Marshall Lytle III, chief information officer on the Joint Staff.

Lytle told the Senate panel that “standardized training, improved jointness and interoperability among the services” were key goals, reports USNI.

Army Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone testified that the Army is looking at what the other services are doing so as to adopt better cyber practices. Like the Navy, the Army struggles to secure many legacy systems, and he mentioned that the Army is now writing contracts with cyber security specifically in mind.

Despite the challenges, all cyber chiefs agreed that the capability, training, and equipment the military possesses in the cyber arena has come a long way in the last three to four years.

“Two years ago, we couldn’t do the defense mission on our own,” said Gilday. The Navy now has that capability, and the other services are looking to get there as soon as possible.

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