The Navy has found “deficiencies” in its cyber personnel readiness, the chief of naval operations told Congress. And to correct it, the maritime military service is shoring up training gaps.
Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, told the House Armed Services Committee the Navy found “deficiencies” in cyber recruitment, training, assignment, and retention processes of personnel on cyber teams following an evaluation of the force’s readiness.
“We found deficiencies with respect to the recruiting side – doing a pretty good job in terms of getting talent – then matching up that talent against the right mission areas,” Gilday said on May 11.
The Navy has begun working with behavioral scientists to develop a cyber aptitude test that allows entry-level cyber sailors to be paired “against the best, most appropriate skill sets that they can excel at,” Gilday testified.
Recent implementation, Gilday testitfied, has improved passing rates for the aptitude test with jumps of more than 30 percentage points thanks to extra training efforts.
“We have — within the past month, we have increased our pass rate in the initial course down in Pensacola, Florida, from 40 or 50% to 80% by doing remedial training,” the naval chief said. “So we put people, extra trainers, against that problem. We’re doing the same thing at Fort Meade (Md.)…We found 80 additional cyber operators that we felt could have better been used in the teams.”
In written testimony, Gilday indicated that the comprehensive review was developed to help the Navy “meet and sustain United States Cyber Command’s demand.”
“Our commitment to improving readiness also includes our information forces. We have established a dedicated team to improve our ability to generate and deploy forces for cyberspace operations,” Gilday stated in prepared testimony.
Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said “cyber is critically important to our national security and our Department of the Navy’s strategy,” that’s backed up by “major investments” since fiscal year 2021 for capability and policy.
“Right now in the Department of Navy, for example, within the scope of our CIO, he is embarking in an entire new enterprise called cyber ready in order to be able to effectively make all our weapon systems cyber ready all the time, as opposed to in a cyclical fashion which has occurred in the past with regards to a complicated and really difficult [authority to operate] process to be able to designate our systems cyber ready,” Del Toro said.
The secretary also touted the cyber curriculum implemented in the U.S. Naval Academy.
The Navy requested nearly $2.5 billion for cyber-related activities for fiscal 2023 and upped allotments for its Cyber Mission Forces ($548 million) and cyber operations ($764 million) by $74 million and $96 million, respectively, compared to last year’s request.