The Army is about to close the fiscal 2015 application window for enlisted soldiers who want to reclassify into 17C, the new military occupational specialty for cyber operations specialists.

The Aug. 31 application deadline applies to the enlisted component of a multi-tiered accessions campaign that also involves commissioned officers and warrant officers.

The Army's near-term goal is to build a force of 1,300 cyber warriors, more than half of them enlisted soldiers, who can serve on Army and multi-service teams capable of performing offensive and defensive missions.

The enlisted staffing strategy for Cyber Branch has two major components:, an automatic transition process for soldiers already serving in cyber-related units, and reclassification opportunities for soldiers who apply for transfer to MOS 17C, and who can meet the rigorous entrance standards set by the Army Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

The Aug. 31 deadline applies to the latter category of soldiers.

The Army expects to reach an 80 percent strength level for the enlisted component of Cyber Branch by 2016, according to officials.

The voluntary reclassification option for enlisted soldiers not assigned to designated cyber units has application procedures similar to those required for non-cyber specialties, according to Jim Bragg, chief of the Human Resources Command's enlisted retention and reclassification branch.

Bragg recommended that soldiers consult MilPer Message 15-164, dated June 2, to determine if they meet the eligibility requirements, and their local career counselor who can answer questions regarding the reclassification process.

To qualify for reclassification, soldiers must have:

• A physical profile of 222221.

• Normal color vision.

• A GT (general technical) score of 110 or higher.

• A secret clearance with the capability to receive a top secret clearance with access to sensitive compartmented information, and be able to pass a counterintelligence polygraph exam.

• Specialists and below must have fewer than four time-in-service; sergeant fewer than 10 years, and staff sergeants fewer than 15. Consult MilPer Message 15-164 for senior NCO requirements.

Application packets should be prepared in accordance with the instructions available at the Army Cyber School Website at https://uscyberschool.army.mil.

"This specialty (17C) is one of several 'by-application' MOSs in which the proponent organization evaluates the application (rather than the Human Resources Command)," Bragg said. "Once the evaluation is completed, and the proponent (the Cyber Center of Excellence) determines if the soldier meets the MOS requirements, it will notify HRC (for finalizing the reclassification)."

Because cyber is a high priority for the Army, "we will let soldiers apply regardless of the in/out calls for their current MOS," Bragg said. The final determination of yes/no will be made by HRC based on strength management and personnel readiness considerations.

Also, if a soldier received a retention bonus for their current MOS, and he or she is approved for reclassification, the Army will not recoup the unearned portion of the bonus.

"This is a fantastic career opportunity for soldiers who want to remain in the Army, but the application criteria is strict," Bragg said.