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The Cyberwarriors

Who they are, and how to become one


How to Become a Cyberwarrior

by Carolyn Meinel

This isn't one of our Guides to (mostly) Harmless Hacking because cyberwar is intended to cause harm. As us folks in the defense industry say, our job is to break things and kill people. In the case of cyberwar, we aren't likely to kill people, but we sure do intend to break things, as well as snoop, mislead and confuse any nation foolish enough to attack our nation.

In my case, it's the United States that I've done a tiny bit to help to defend, and for that reason this Guide focuses on how to become a cyberwarrior for the U.S. Even if you are not a U.S. citizen, you can join one of the U.S. military services, become a cyberwarrior, and if you so desire, get a fast track to U.S. citizenship as well.

You need to do more than just contact a recruiting office of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy or Marines. If you tell the recruiter that you are a whiz bang hacker who can break into anything, the recruiter might think you are -- take your pick -- crazy, criminal, or a braggart. If you do get accepted, you might end up on the "enlisted" career track when you could have become a commissioned officer if you had planned ahead properly. If you have enough intelligence to have, or if you plan to get, an engineering degree in a four-year college or university, then you will have greater opportunities as a commissioned officer.

To become an officer, a good opportunity for high school kids is to enroll in a high school ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) program. See http://www.afrotc.com/, http://www.goarmy.com/rotc/, or https://www.nrotc.navy.mil/. High school ROTC will help you get into one of the US military Academies for college. If you are already a high school graduate, or if a high school program is not available to you, be sure to attend a college or university with ROTC. Your BEST OPPORTUNITY is to get an appointment to attend one of the Academies for the armed forces.

Right now, the best service to join for cyberwarfare probably is the US Air Force http://www.af.mil/. All Air Force officer-training opportunities can be viewed at http://www.au.af.mil/au/holmcenter/. The Air Force Academy is located in Colorado Springs, CO, which is also headquarters for Space Command. The US Air Force Space Command is in charge of waging cyberwar for the Air Force.

The other military services also have cyberwar capabilities.

If you join the US Navy, you can get a tremendous education in computer science by joining a college ROTC program, for example at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute. Carolyn's note: the Navy paid for my husband's masters degrees in computer science and math at Rensselaer because he was in ROTC. When he finished school he had a fascinating career going back and forth between being a fighter pilot and doing computer-related work.


       © 2013 Carolyn Meinel