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Cyber Command Will Miss Friday's Operational Deadline 156

Posted by samzenpus
from the army-of-none dept.
techinsider writes "The U.S. Cyber Command won't be fully operational by Friday's October 1st deadline. A major challenge appears to be staffing the command with qualified personnel, of which it will need over 1,000 skilled employees. General Alexander told Congress his leadership staff was in place but acknowledged there were challenges in bringing in people to the rest of the organization."
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Cyber Command Will Miss Friday's Operational Deadline

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  • Staff shortages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:02AM (#33745498) Journal
    Can't get qualified IT staff? Why should someone who has studied for several years and has worked to gain specialist knowledge, want to work in an environment where people who know less than them and don't have to break their backs to meet arbitrary deadlines are more highly rewarded? When those with the greatest expertise and who have to work hardest to actually create the product get the smallest portion of the credit and the pay, no wonder there are problems encouraging people to work in the field.
  • Re:Staff shortages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:07AM (#33745512)

    Why should someone who has studied for several years and has worked to gain specialist knowledge, want to work in an environment where people who know less than them and don't have to break their backs to meet arbitrary deadlines are more highly rewarded?

    Sounds like the management of every company I have come across. If there are exceptions please let me know

  • Career poison... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VendettaMF (629699) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:14AM (#33745564) Homepage

    Could it be that anyone skilled enough to participate is also skilled enough to see a complete operational failure that will smear the resume of anyone desperate enough to work there?
    And with the additional toxic working environment supplied by mass-employed "upper-tiers" of politically motivated and utterly incompetent management not even the draw of decent pay in the coming second half of the recession is likely to reverse that.

  • we have managers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kubitus (927806) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:15AM (#33745574)
    now we look for somebody to do the work
  • by koterica (981373) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:29AM (#33745666) Journal

    "It was supposed to be a war fighter unit, not a geek unit," said task force veteran Jason Healey, who had served as an Air Force signals intelligence officer.
    A fighter would understand, for instance, if an enemy had penetrated the networks and changed coordinates or target times, said Dusty Rhoads, a retired Air Force colonel and former F-117 pilot who recruited the original task force members. "A techie wouldn't have a clue," he said. --Washington Post [washingtonpost.com]

    With their attitude towards cyber security experts (who are probably also geeks!), I am not particularly surprised they have had trouble with staffing.

  • Re:Staff shortages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Almost-Retired (637760) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:34AM (#33745686)

    But, are the people who are charged with doing all this hiring cognizant of the type of folks to hire? I'd almost bet the farm they are far more interested in the results of a background check, than in the potential talent of the person being considered. Its the government way.

    IMO what they want is someone who is intimately familiar with a code base whose source can change in response to perceived or actual threats, sometimes by tens of kilobytes a day. I'll submit that such a person does not exist who can also get a clean bill of health from the background checking spooks. And may not exist at all.

    Another poster said of the payscale, that it is more than likely 10% of what that same person could earn working the other side of the line or at a large commercial firm.

    Point being, if he can do the job, he is worth whatever he asks, and conversely if he cannot do the job, he is excess baggage to be removed from the payroll. And a thousand people is IMO, a very unrealistic figure. 10 good guys/gals in constant communication should be able to handle any attacks in almost real time, by writing the defense code in almost real time. Say about 50 altogether for 24/7/366 coverage. But pulling 50 such people out of the enterprise arena, assuming they are willing to pay what they are worth, would leave a minor but detectable vacuum in the talent pool.

    One old farts nickles worth.

    --
    Cheers, Gene
    "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
      soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
    -Ed Howdershelt (Author)
    Man's unique agony as a species consists in his perpetual conflict between
    the desire to stand out and the need to blend in.
                                    -- Sydney J. Harris

  • by N1AK (864906) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:40AM (#33745734) Homepage

    I'm sorry, but I've never been able to respect a manager who could not have done my job, and has done in previous years.

    I've never respected a manager who thought their job was to do the job their staff were employed to do. I've been 'managed' by someone two-three rungs up, based on another continent who I met twice. He had no background experience of my area of expertise. He was extremely good at getting the information he required, involving people as required and committed to decisions he made. I'd much rather be managed by a good manager than by a good worker.

  • Re:Staff shortages (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:42AM (#33745742) Homepage

    You're onto something... but it's the wrong "something". The issues you';re describing aren't unique to this program at all; they're true of most bureaucracies, whether they're non-profit, for-profit, government, or military. What's different about working for the military is its "corporate culture" (for lack of a better term), and that can be off-putting to a lot of people, especially geeks.

  • Re:Staff shortages (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:44AM (#33745764)

    See, the military is supposed to have trained these people already. And vetted them for TS/SCI clearances so that Raytheon doesn't have to pay for that either. Then, upon honorable discharge, they can do the same job for 1.5x the pay, but get to wear a poloshirt instead of digis and think that they're having fun. If that doesn't describe you, then you're too expensive to invest in, will take too long to process, and they don't want to bother,

  • Re:Staff shortages (Score:4, Insightful)

    by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:46AM (#33745792)

    Assuming that by "mozzy" you mean Muslim, few people hate al Quaida as much as most Muslim Indians who are having their desire to just live their lives undermined by radicals using Islam to give themselves credibility.

  • Not suprised (Score:2, Insightful)

    by r4d1x (779518) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @08:51AM (#33745818)
    If SAIC is running the show it's no wonder that it is difficult for them to staff the positions. No self respecting IT professional would accept a job under a company that treats their employees like crap.

    Additionally, choosing "Combat Veterans" [slashdot.org] over IT professionals will eventually cause this entire project to fail. Field IT is not a qualification for running a full blow offensive security command. Most of these people are using pre-configured equipment in shock cases and only need to know that cable A goes to port B, then press power. If the government is concerned that civilian personnel will not know what the data they are protecting should look like, then they should train them to know what they are looking at.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2010 @09:12AM (#33745954)

    Sounds like I left the IT world to join the Air Force. I'm much happier 10 years later, don't usually feel the need to drink, and what I do makes a difference, instead of being smothered by useless red tape. Ironically, those guys who told me I was throwing away a brilliant career are all miserable now, and my pay has finally caught up. They don't get shot at, granted, but I rarely do, and right now my happy ass is on an island in the Med, making per diem watching a robot do it's thing. Oh yeah, I can go back to corporate pain in 10 years when I retire and my peers are all terified of getting laid off. This isn't for everyone, and it's not cushy, but it sure beat a meaningless life.

  • Re:Staff shortages (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2010 @09:13AM (#33745968)

    Claiming responsibility for the company's success while saying nothing of the throngs of people actually putting together her products was simultaneously amusing and disheartening.

    Disheartening, perhaps, but not all that far off base. The throngs of people could be replaced by robots; the designer can't.

  • Re:Staff shortages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @09:13AM (#33745970) Journal

    >>>want to work in an environment where people who know less than them... are more highly rewarded?

    I'd work there, if only to oversee the operations and make sure the staff are Obeying the Constitution (no searches without warrants) rather than tearing it to shreds. I also find it hard to believe, with 10% unemployment, they can't find engineers/software people who are desperate for jobs. The hiring staff are probably being nitpicky, requiring ALL the skills in every employee, instead of just say 50% of the skills and letting the employee learn the task on the job.

    As for your question: What work environment isn't like that? Every place I ever worked the managers were paid more than the competent workers with the actual skills. It simple supply-and-demand, and unfortunately there's a huge supply of workers so that drives down their wages.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @09:21AM (#33746042)

    + must be army fitness + take a DI in your faces do a lot of PT just for A DESK JOB!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2010 @09:39AM (#33746210)

    What's absurd is that leadership is so easily staffed, but technical prowess is not. These roles are subjective. The people actually doing something require objective skills. The fact that the objective-skilled people are not staffed, but the subjective-skilled people are, leads me to question the quality of leadership.

    IT leadership requires IT skills. I had this disagreement with the CIO of Microsoft when I was there. He didn't think you needed IT skill to be an IT leader. But his projects all failed and he got fired.

  • What" No Indians? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrentTheThief (118302) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @10:07AM (#33746566)

    The military never, ever has a problem filling billets for "knowledgeable" people to make "important" decisions with "authority" and "zeal."

    The problem they do have, however, is that none of the people who actually understand and "live" for the work are ever the same as those "knowledgeable" people who make "important" decisions with "authority" and "zeal."

    In other words, they have plenty of chiefs and no fucking indians. (that's not a pun at India, it's a phrase familiar to all sailors and many Marines.)

    Smart and innovative people are frequently classed as troublemakers and misfits when they chaff at the idiocy of military stricture. It's hard to live with arbitrary rules that either have no rationale or lost whatever usefulness they had 50 years ago. You can't lure people in with glamour jobs where none exist. And most certainly not for less than a quarter of the pay. Military benefits have steadily eroded since the end of the Viet Nam war, and they sure as heel won't be getting any better.

    Good luck with that staffing issue, Al.

  • Re:Staff shortages (Score:3, Insightful)

    by anegg (1390659) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @10:26AM (#33746786)

    We don't have 10% unemployment in the general area in which the Cyber Command draws its staff. I live and work in the area. For example, I posted two advertisements for sys admins several months ago; one focused on LAMP/PHP skills, the other ColdFusion skills. In 4 weeks I received about 7 preliminary applications TOTAL, none of them qualified.

    Clearances are required, and in this area finding qualified, cleared personnel is difficult. This has driven salaries up to crazy levels. The government has shot itself in the foot by having too many positions requiring cleared personnel (when its not really necessary) and by not having qualified gov't. people overseeing the contractors. The contractors are able to "qualify" staff at levels that exceeds their real capabilities, which they are happy to do because they gov't. pays the contractor based on the staff members' salaries plus overhead. The economic incentive is not there for the contractors to keep salaries low.

    For example, one multi-contractor project I worked on had one contractor poaching personnel from the other by offering them 20% to 50% raises. The folks stayed working on the same project, got a huge jump in salary, and the government just paid the extra freight. My company (a larger defense contractor in business a while) tried to discuss the relative insanity of this with the government customer, but the gov't. either couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it.

    As for the idea of keeping the government "honest" with respect to the US Constitution: if you were hired at "Cyber Command", you would not be in a position to oversee operations and make sure the staff are obeying the constitution... you would have the choice of doing your job or resigning if you saw something you didn't like. The environment is murky enough that it would be extremely difficult for anyone to prove anything without a serious risk of losing their clearance (which would end the high salary gravy train) and possibly going to jail (for violating the terms of their clearance).

  • by gimmebeer (1648629) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @10:50AM (#33747118)
    In the MD/DC/VA area, everyone works for some form of gov't agency. Ft. Meade is also home to another larger and sexier IT-type agency which shall remain nameless, so they are competeing heavily for the IT talent they have. Also, agencies in the suburbs between DC and Baltimore generally pay less than those located in the District and NoVA, so people with the clearances required to work there would be taking a paycut. The short answer.... pay more or lower your expectations.

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