Cyber, the Army's newest and hottest career branch, is now accepting transfer applications from qualified Regular Army officers in the ranks of second lieutenant through colonel.

Applicants for the specialty 17A Voluntary Transfer Incentive Program board that convenes June 22 at Human Resources Command must be members of the Army Competitive Category, which is the management grouping for the basic line branches.

Commissioned officers of the Army Medical Department, Chaplain Corps and Judge Advocate General's Corps are not eligible for consideration by the board, nor are warrant officers or members of the National Guard and Army Reserve.

The area of concentration 17A (Cyber Officer) branch transfer panel is part of the Army's phased program to populate its formations with a force of officers, warrant officers and enlisted soldiers trained in defensive and offensive cyber warfare skills.

Senior Army leaders authorized the establishment of Cyber Branch last September, the service's first new career branch since Special Forces nearly 30 years ago. The new branch is a prelude to creating 17-series career fields for officers and enlisted soldiers, just as Special Forces has 18-series specialties for its soldiers.

Second lieutenants through colonels are eligible to apply for a branch transfer to cyber.

Photo Credit: Lt. Col. Rob Manning/Army

Army officials expect that career fields and professional development tracks for warrant officers and enlisted soldiers will be defined by the end of this fiscal year.

The newly created Cyber School at Fort Gordon, Georgia, will train its first class of 25-30 second lieutenants this summer, with about half those officers coming from West Point, and the other half from Cadet Command.Classes for warrant officers and in-service enlisted soldiers are expected to soon follow.

In-service officers who want to transfer to the new branch have until May 20 to submit an application for the VTIP board that meets in June.

Selection results are expected to be released by the second week of July.

The basic eligibility requirements for a voluntary branch transfer are listed below. Applications should be prepared and submitted according to procedures described in MilPer Message 15-113, dated April 13.

• Be a Regular Army officer in the grade of second lieutenant through colonel who has the ability to obtain and maintain a top secret security clearance with access to sensitive compartmented information. Applicants also must be able to pass a counterintelligence polygraph exam, and be cleared for National Security Agency access.

NSA access will be required for many of the Army's cyber force mission requirements.

• While college degrees in science, technology, engineering, math, information systems, information assurance and cyber security are preferred, they are not required.

Officers should use the VTIP application to highlight their specific fields of study, experience, aptitude and potential for service in this high-tech career field. Academic transcripts should be included in the application if they already are not in an officer's personnel file.

When evaluated by the VTIP panel, applicants will be scored in the two categories of "performance" and "skills and experience."

Applicants initially will be placed on an order of merit list based on their skills and experience. Performance scores then will be used to determine if the OML needs to be adjusted based on performance factors, such as promotion potential.

The upcoming AOC 17A panel is unusual in that VTIP panels normally focus on officers in targeted rank groupings, such as captain or major. Given the broad grade spread – lieutenant through colonel - for the upcoming board, the Human Resources Command provided some general information about how the June board will access and score the different grade bands as follows:

Lieutenants and junior captains: panel members will focus on technical aptitude and potential as expressed in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) degrees, cyber and information technology certifications, cyber-related training and performance in cyber mission-force positions. The assessment of traditional junior officers experiences in basic branch assignments will strengthened when combined with unique courses of study, and even verifiable off-duty self-development activities, such as cyber clubs and cyber competitions.

Senior captains and junior majors: panelists will focus on STEM degrees and cyber experience, as well as experience in information assurance, network operations, signals intelligence, electronic warfare, targeting, operations planning and information operations at multiple echelons. Traditional combat arms experiences, such as leading teams with technical capabilities against asymmetric threats or in support of unconventional missions, will be viewed favorably by the panel. Applications from graduates of the School of Advanced Military Studies who have planning experience are particularly welcome.

Senior majors and lieutenant colonels: panel members will look for depth of experience and proven leadership in cyber operations, information assurance, signals intelligence, electronic warfare, targeting, operations planning and information operations at multiple echelons. Advanced degrees are expected of officers in this grade band.While STEM degrees are preferred, the quality and rigor of an officer's graduate education is more important.PhDs and instructor experience in any form are specifically desired for the program.

Colonels: applicants will be accessed similar to those in the lieutenant colonel band by a panel of two to three general officers from Army Cyber Command and the National Cyber Mission Force. Applicants should indicate which of the 17 Cyber Branch colonel positions they are best qualified for, and describe their strategic and operational vision for the Army's cyber force.

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