First Lts. Timothy Hennessy, left, and James Gusman during the Cyber Direct Commissioning Ceremony May 9, 2018, at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Army's Cyber Command gets its first direct-commissioned officers

Army Cyber Command’s first cyber officers recruited through its pilot cyber direct commission program are ready for duty.

1st Lts. James Gusman and Timothy Hennessy graduated from officer training May 9 and are expected to begin their 12-week cyber specific training in Ft. Gordon, Ga. by the end of July, Army Cyber School commandant, Brig. Gen. Neil Hersey said during a media roundtable introducing the officers.

The cyber program was launched late last year as a way to boost the service’s cyber force and attract talent from the commercial sector. Direct commissioning for candidates with high-demand skillsets has been used to attract physicians, attorneys and chaplains to military ranks.

Gusman said he hopes to leverage his civilian experience working IT and cybersecurity for U.S. and international companies, applying best practices from the private sector to the Army and possibly coming up with new ones by “mixing together” the Army and private sector's ways of doing business.

Hennessy, who was previously a signals geospatial intelligence analyst targeting instructor for the National Security Agency, said he’s been assigned to an offensive cyber position and would like to use his academic background to educate and train soldiers who may or may not have technical backgrounds.

Both officers have prior military backgrounds and advanced degrees in relevant fields.

Hersey, said the program has already cycled through its second batch of applicants with five recommended for entry to the program in June. If successful, they will begin training later this fall, potentially bringing the number of direct-commissioned cyber officers to seven.

Hersey said the program is anticipated to hold four boards a year with the next one convening later this summer.

For its first round, the program garnered 249 applications, 181 completed and screened, and nine that went to selection board. Gusman and Hennessy were the final two chosen.

Army Cyber Command has made some changes to the pilot since it first launched, including a student loan repayment program that provides up to $65,000 over three payments during the officer’s initial three-year term.

Additionally, Congress is considering expanding the program to all military services up to the colonel level, which would attract more senior commercial tech talent. The program’s rank limitations have been criticized by military officials for pay that can’t compete with private sector salaries.

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