Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
The Military The Internet United States

US Army May Relax Physical Requirements To Recruit Cyber Warriors 308

HughPickens.com writes Clifford Davis reports that only 30% of young people between the ages of 17 and 24 are qualified to become soldiers. This is primarily due to three issues: obesity or health problems; lack of a high school education; and criminal histories. While cognitive and moral disqualifications have held steady, weight issues account for 18% of disqualifications, and the number is rising steadily. It's projected to hit 25% by 2025. The current Army policy is that every recruit, whether enlisting for infantry or graphic design, has to meet the same physical requirements to join — but that requirement may be changing. "Today, we need cyber warriors, so we're starting to recruit for Army Cyber," says Major General Allen Batschelet. "One of the things we're considering is that your [mission] as a cyber warrior is different. Maybe you're not the Ranger who can do 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups and run the 2-mile inside of 10 minutes, but you can crack a data system of an enemy." "We're looking for America's best and brightest just like any Fortune 500 company out there," says Lt. Col. Sharlene Pigg. "We're looking for those men and women who excel in science, technology, engineering and math." Batschelet admits that a drastic change in physical requirements for recruits may be hard for some to swallow. "That's going to be an institutional, cultural change for us to be able to get our heads around that is kind of a different definition of quality," says Batschelet. "I would say it's a modernizing, or defining in a more precise way, what is considered quality for soldiers."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Army May Relax Physical Requirements To Recruit Cyber Warriors

Comments Filter:
  • Good luck with that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @05:14PM (#48236121)

    I left the DoD as a software developer largely because they couldn't get their heads out of their asses. The paperwork, mandatory training, and total risk aversion meant I developed code at maybe 25% of the speed that I did before, and after, in the private sector. And the stock options in the DoD were nothing to write home about.

    I really don't see how the DoD can win any cyber fight. It would take losing a ground war on U.S. soil for them to give up their worship of bureaucracy.

    • Do you think that they'd be able to settle for the "Buy it for 250% the cost of doing it in house from the contractor with the most congressmen" compromise if we lost a land war somewhere else?
      • by drnb ( 2434720 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @10:23PM (#48237637)

        ... "Buy it for 250% the cost of doing it in house from the contractor with the most congressmen" compromise ...

        While that is a factor it is exaggerated. The bigger factor, and the military's motivation, in turning to contractors is that fewer recruits have to be used for support and logistics, so more are available for combat specialties. We are seeing the exact same thing here. Highly technical roles filled by those physically unfit for combat, freeing up those recruits who are physically fit for combat specialties. In some ways it is a little bit parallel to the various WW2 Women's Auxiliaries for the various services. The idea at that time was to free a man from a desk job so he could go to the field.

    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday October 26, 2014 @05:29PM (#48236229)

      Not only that but if they change the physical requirements it's going to have a lot of repercussions.

      First off, Basic Training. Is there going to be a "cyber warrior only" camp for that?

      Secondly, promotions. Will the promotion points for Physical Training be altered for "cyber warriors"?

      Also, you have to pass Physical Training tests every year to stay in. Will the guy who cooks the food the "cyber warrior" eats be held to a higher physical standard than the "cyber warrior" is?

      I'm thinking that Lt. Col. Sharlene Pigg does not understand anything about morale or esprit de corps.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @07:12PM (#48236773) Journal

        I'm thinking that Lt. Col. Sharlene Pigg does not understand anything about morale or esprit de corps.

        Arguably, the bigger problem is that the concept of 'cyber warrior' is an iffy fit for the army at best; and just plain incoherent nonsense at worst.

        Obviously, now that electronic systems are valuable enough to be worth attacking, defending, and spying on, it's perfectly plausible that somebody is going to end up doing that job; but that's quite different than inferring the existence of 'cyber warriors', much less ones sufficiently closely analogous to conventional warriors that the army would be a logical outfit to have some(not that the Air Force, which seems to be the branch making the most noise about it, is an obviously better fit). Whatever Tron might have told you, 'cyber war' isn't going to be physical combat except more neon...

        If the army is serious about a mandate broad enough that 'cyber warrior' actually fits, they are going to have to suck it up and, yes, accept that their current arrangements for training, evaluation, promotion, etc. include elements that are either supported by outdated assumptions or mere nostalgia.

        If they aren't, they should get over whatever territorial pissing contest and/or painful misunderstanding of 'cyber war' has them trying to search for a supply of cutting edge IT and security people who are willing to put up with a system bent on evaluating their ability to pick up a rifle when necessary and either contract it or develop a non-dysfunctional relationship with an agency actually suited to the task(ostensibly the NSA, if somebody could pry them away from our email for a few minutes).

        They are just going to have to choose: if they want to have one-size-fits-all processes(whether justified by the theory that all their people might actually need combat skills, or by cultural and institutional cohesion considerations), then they just aren't going to get to do everything, at least not well. If they want to do a wide variety of fairly disparate things, they just don't get to keep all their existing practices, at least not well(the only thing that would depress enthusiasts of boot camp and physical training more than just exempting some people from it entirely would be watering the requirements down enough that any pudgy keyboard jockey would be minimally inconvenienced by meeting them...)

      • I'm thinking that Lt. Col. Sharlene Pigg does not understand anything about morale or esprit de corps.

        Or, and bear with me on this: perhaps the desire to win a cyber-war is the paramount priority over and above ideal morale conditions.

        Of course it's also possible they have a plan to accomplish both.

      • First off, Basic Training. Is there going to be a "cyber warrior only" camp for that?

        Possibly. But we should absolutely get an animated series about it.

      • by drnb ( 2434720 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @10:29PM (#48237677)
        In some ways it is similar to the WW2 Women's Auxiliaries that the various services had. The idea back then was to free up a man from a "desk job" so he could be sent to "the front".

        That said, if we need a cyber whatever it could be an entirely different branch of service. These specialists could be placed with the military as needed.
      • Not only that but if they change the physical requirements it's going to have a lot of repercussions.

        First off, Basic Training. Is there going to be a "cyber warrior only" camp for that?

        Secondly, promotions. Will the promotion points for Physical Training be altered for "cyber warriors"?

        Also, you have to pass Physical Training tests every year to stay in. Will the guy who cooks the food the "cyber warrior" eats be held to a higher physical standard than the "cyber warrior" is?

        I'm thinking that Lt. Col. Sharlene Pigg does not understand anything about morale or esprit de corps.

        Should the cook be held to "physical standards" which aren't relevant to the actual job either? Outside movies like Under Siege, shooting at people really isn't part of the chef's job either. (As an Air Force cadet, I was pretty good at Escape & Evasion - and if I'd gone on to be an actual fighter pilot, that could well have been a vital skill if shot down over enemy territory. As a drone pilot, eight time zones from the action where the biggest threat is road rage on the daily commute? Not a chance.)

        Su

        • by Whorhay ( 1319089 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @11:37AM (#48241025)

          I always thought it was funny that my being fat, while still able to beat the other PT standards, was a big enough deal to possibly get an Admin discharge. Meanwhile so long as you could shoot something like 28% with the M16A2 everything was honky dorry. I qualified expert every damn time I went to the range and when someone actually challeneged me I shot 98% in a timed test, with one misfire and two stoppages. In an organization where shooting at other people is a real possibility, the only reward for being a good marksman is a ribbon for bragging rights.

      • by Hodr ( 219920 )

        All good points, but the fact is that we already treat people differently based on their gender. I.E. you must run this fast, for this long, to be an effective soldier, unless you are female, then you can be slower and quit sooner. The answer is that we don't put women into the positions that are too physically demanding for them. This is the same concept, if you happen to have an MOS that doesn't require you to be physically active, then as along as you can complete your mission you should be fine.

        And wh

  • I wonder if they'll be as strict as the FBI about not hiring people who've "pirated" music or TV shows.
  • FUBAR Deluxe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2014 @05:21PM (#48236173)

    Imagine a "cyberwarrior" (whatever the FUCK that is), who is having trouble with military discipline. The chain of command then starts fucking with him. Sooner or later, he does something really stupid. Then the bastards send him to a line unit. HOW THE FUCK is that motherfucker going to cope there?

    This is some seriously fucked up shit.

    • Then the bastards send him to a line unit. HOW THE FUCK is that motherfucker going to cope there?

      They're not going to send him to a line unit unless they need cannon fodder, and then he'll get what he deserves. They'll just give him a DD and send him back to bumfuck, boringville.

  • Sooo..... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean the Army will procure quantities of military issue Diet Coke, Hot Pockets and Twinkies in camouflage packaging?

  • Really, they should just be recruiting an army of nerds to sit in a room driving avatars, whether they be drones, remote tanks, or humanoid robots.

  • by SgtAaron ( 181674 ) <aaron@coinet.com> on Sunday October 26, 2014 @05:35PM (#48236263)

    When I enlisted in 1990 you only had to be able to complete something like 13 pushups to be assigned to a basic training unit. Those that couldn't were put into a "remedial physical training" unit, where of course they were roundly laughed at by those in real basic. Passing the actual PT test at the end of basic is different, but at 18 were only had to do around 45 pushups and 60 situps in two minutes, and run two miles in less than 17 minutes or thereabouts--don't recall precisely. And as you get older, the requirements lessen. Upon enlistment all we had to do was lift 40 pounds above your head on a weight machine. I was 5'3" and 115 pounds back then (still 5'3", beer has added a bit of weight over time :-)

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @05:50PM (#48236323) Homepage

      When I enlisted in 1990 you only had to be able to complete something like 13 pushups to be assigned to a basic training unit.

      I'd have failed that. Sure, I probably could have spent a lot of time working out and gotten to that point, but what's the point?

      Anytime you introduce a selective pressure for one attribute, you're unwittingly selecting AGAINST other attributes. Do you want the best "cyber warrior" you can find, or the best "cyber warrior" who also happens to be able to do 13 pushups too? If the bad guys aren't so picky, she might find herself outclassed...

      • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday October 26, 2014 @06:06PM (#48236389)

        I got out in 1990 after serving for 7 years.

        Sure, I probably could have spent a lot of time working out and gotten to that point, but what's the point?

        So that the other people in your unit know that they can depend upon you to perform the physical requirements of being in a war zone.

        Anytime you introduce a selective pressure for one attribute, you're unwittingly selecting AGAINST other attributes.

        And I agree with that. 100%. Dr. Hawking wouldn't be physically able to serve (even if he wanted to). But you would want him working on your side.

        Do you want the best "cyber warrior" you can find, or the best "cyber warrior" who also happens to be able to do 13 pushups too?

        I prefer to substitute "Facebook" for "cyber" in these articles. It puts them in perspective.

        But that isn't the question. The question is whether these "Facebook warriors" will ever be deployed to a war zone.

        If yes, then they need to meet the physical requirements the same as every other soldier.

        If no, then hire them as civilians. Skip Basic and AIT and everything else. Classify them along with all the other GS-whatevers.

        • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

          Don't get me wrong - having physical requirements for anybody who is deployed anywhere near a combat zone or who is responsible for providing physical security is a no-brainer. If the mission requires having a "cyber warrior" join a team that will infiltrate some facility then they certainly should be able to meet the physical qualifications, use a gun, etc.

          • besides being able to wrangle a loaded rack server into place at combat speed could come in handy someday.

            Or run a 100 foot network cable

            Or throw a ssd to some grunt to plug it into a rack

            but then again any DI that can't get a geek into shape in decent time needs to hang up his smokey bear hat

          • by khasim ( 1285 )

            I think I'm agreeing with you.

            If the mission requires having a "cyber warrior" join a team that will infiltrate some facility then they certainly should be able to meet the physical qualifications, use a gun, etc.

            Yup! But that "Facebook warrior" would probably have a different MOS.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_occupation_code [wikipedia.org]

            But the "Facebook warrior" who will never be deployed and will never see actual combat would be a GS-something.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Schedule_(US_ [wikipedia.org]

      • "a lot of time" in this case equal about six weeks of try to do 13 push ups a day. You're literally disqualifying yourself because you don't want to spend two hours TOTAL exercising.
        • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

          "a lot of time" in this case equal about six weeks of try to do 13 push ups a day. You're literally disqualifying yourself because you don't want to spend two hours TOTAL exercising.

          Somehow I doubt it takes only two hours total. But, whatever. Honestly, I could really care less whether I can do a pushup. :) My current employer doesn't really have a problem with that, and I don't have a problem with accepting their paycheck.

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      I know someone who joined the Navy in 1970s, he learned proper military posture and attitude very quickly. He answered "yes" and was slugged in the gut. He was told to answer "Yes SIR!" and followed by "On your feet boy! and I mean like now!" He managed to get up, and stand up straight (cough cough, yes cough sir cough).
  • by Chuckstar ( 799005 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @05:38PM (#48236279)

    There's something wrong with their numbers.

    There's no way that only 30% of Americans are high school graduates who are not obese and don't have criminal records. It's just not possible.

    The U.S. high school graduation rate is 80%. About 30% of the population have been arrested. Many of those will be found innocent, charges never pressed, or convicted of very minor charges, such that 8.5% of the population ends up with felony convictions. Does obesity account for all the rest?

    The stats they are using are ages 17-24. Is it possible they are skewed by the fact that many 17 and 18-year-olds simply haven't finished high school yet (even if they are on track to do so)?

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @05:53PM (#48236337) Homepage

      The U.S. high school graduation rate is 80%. About 30% of the population have been arrested.

      Well, if that alone isn't cause for concern, I don't know what is. Think about the implications of that in a society where you have a good chance of being unemployable even if you have a college degree...

    • 72% are not obesity related. Obviously your numbers are suspect.

      "While cognitive and moral disqualifications have held steady, weight issues account for 18% of disqualifications, and the number is rising steadily, according to Batschelet."

      If your back of a nonexistent napkin attempt is that far off, do you really conclude that the article is the wrong one?

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @05:56PM (#48236355) Homepage Journal

    Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

    Not in civvy street, anyway.

  • ... that DoD has determined that geeks are typically fat and stuff?

  • ... if you'd just bulk up a little.

  • ... to a military computer near you.

  • AFAIK they recruit excellent engineers that meet their fitness requirements so what is so different about the USA?

    Really, anyone who isn't disciplined enough to stay somewhat fit, or to get fit enough for basic, really isn't military material IMHO. Physical discipline and mental discipline go hand-in-hand. Are cyber-warriors allowed to stuff their faces at the DEFAC? Will they be excused from all field exercises? Will never be deployed in country, attached to MI units?

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      AFAIK they recruit excellent engineers that meet their fitness requirements so what is so different about the USA?

      Well, do you want the best, or do you merely want "excellent?" There can only be 10 top-10 anythings in the world, and maybe they aren't good at pushups?

      I couldn't tell you what if any differences exist in the current physical standards between the branches of the US military.

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

      The enlisted aren't really "engineers" from an academic perspective, they are very specifically trained techs. The actual engineers (with a BS) would mostly be officers who went through ROTC or some such and so had to go through plenty of military and physical training in college already.

      I agree that if you can't manage 30-ish push ups in 2 minutes you may want to consider another job - many (even technically minded) young people can already do that, and almost anyone in otherwise good health can get ther

  • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @06:37PM (#48236573)
    I don't believe the mission nor the culture of a "cyber warrior" (yes, whatever the fuck that is) lends itself to the military. Sorry, no. Not even close. What makes those guys (and yes, it is mostly guys, by far) tick is utterly foreign to military culture. It's a bad fit.
  • So they are looking for pasty scrawny geeks to fly their drones? (My son's comment upon reading the headlines...)
    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      So they are looking for pasty scrawny geeks to fly their drones?

      Hardly. I believe that they require drone pilots to be qualified as ordinary aircraft pilots, and they make them wear flight suits while they're piloting drones.

      Idiotic, but it is a culture thing. There is certainly an overlap of skills in piloting a drone and a manned aircraft, but there are lots of things exclusive to either. Maybe your next ace drone pilot is afraid of heights and you wash him out in training. :)

      • Wow, Interesting. But wearing a flight suit? If I had not commented, I would mod you very informative...
  • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @07:26PM (#48236845)

    he can apply for amnesty, change his name to General Lardass and asked to be put in charge of Cyber Command.

  • by Livius ( 318358 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @07:33PM (#48236875)

    Why not simply order then to undergo physical training until they are no longer obese? Most of them would thank you for it.

    (Yes, I know obesity is not that simple, but surely it could be one part of the solution.)

    • Because people who do not qualify cannot be ordered. You have to lower the criteria, and accept the previously unacceptable, before you can order then to undergo physical training until they are no longer obese.

      Criminal history was mentioned as part of this. You can't basic train someone's arrest for hacking or weed out of the record. So there goes your plan. Try again.

      • by Livius ( 318358 )

        You could create some kind of conditional enlistment, it would be nearly the same thing.

  • Declare lack of academic and physical fitness of young people a national security problem on par with terrorism. Allocate trillions of budget accordingly to sponsor high quality educational and athletic programs to anyone willing to participate, including free healthy meals. A cost of enrolling all children in a state would be like half of a modern stealth plane.

    Next, reach out to women, LGBT and other unrepresented demographics to consider enlisting. Experience instant boost in highly qualified recruits du

  • Way to address the 18% and not the 82%!

    Given that you're not OK with the 70% remaining people that are currently unqualified, that'll get you another 12.6% overall, instead of 57.4% overall. Way to go for the 22% solution to the 100% of the problem there! Let's see... that'll give you a "C+" grade, on the standard scale... way to overachieve!

    Perhaps you need to hire some otherwise unqualified STEM people to do your math for you, before you start making policy decisions based on your back of the envelope c

  • ... They didn't want people with disabilities back when I was younger and applying for IT jobs with them. :(

    • also up or out rules and other BS makes it better to have this not part of the old system. Maybe tech / IT should be on it's own for all of the us gov IT needs.

  • I can understand the logic behind this decision, but I don't think it is the best way to achieve what they want to accomplish. Cyber warfare is the next big up-and-coming thing. It is officially considered one of the "theaters of operation" for warfare now and it seems like every week we hear about some new virus, exploit, or hackers from China breaking into US businesses' networks. Because of this, it makes strategic sense to recruit "cyber warriors" if you will. What doesn't make sense is how it is nece
  • it's time for a new branch of the military.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN

Working...