back to article US Marines seek more than a few good men (3,000 men and women, actually) for cyber-war

The head of the US Marines wants to recruit about 3,000 troops skilled in online warfare and espionage to make sure the Corps is ready for 21st-century battle. On Thursday, General Robert Neller told the Surface Navy Association's annual convention that he was looking to raise his numbers from 182,000 to 185,000 in the next …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much money do you have?

    And how much freedom do I really get to keep while on active duty? Not much, in both cases.

    I'm a normal, everyday, senior Linux Admin with devops, virtualization, and all the bells and whistles, and as an independent contractor my fees start at US$100/hr, and I am undercutting my peers by $20/hr or so. Top security persons can fetch $150-$200/hr no problem. The guys who cleaned up Target made about $1000/hr. In the military I made about a $1/hr. Guess what I won't be doing anytime soon? Go fetch some proper funds and try again. Wanting to "storm the beadheadend and fling some e-grenades at the enemy servers" for Uncle Orange doesn't float my fucking boat.

  2. Brian Miller

    "There's no cyber MOS"

    No, really? And you want to keep people after training? Of course you do. I imagine things might have change a wee bit when I was in, the computer MOS were overloaded, and then after training they sat around in California, going whale watching. After three years, then you could start to be allowed to touch the actual computer systems.

    For computer hackery, us guys in Signal would buy our own gear, and have fun. The guys in the actual computer MOS were busy looking good, because that's all the command emphasized. Seriously, they were all about polishing their brass and shoes, and looking good in very frequent inspections. My brother went airborne to actually use his skills, because there's too few people smart enough to program a computer and nuts enough to jump out of an airplane.

    Will the USMC fulfill their recruitment goal? Eh, doubtful. It's a hard sell, even recruiting from other branches of the services.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    check your calendar and enjoy these last few days

    When the shit hits the fan here real quick why are we assuming people will be given a choice? Re-instituting the draft fully may well be one of the less controversial things our incoming Commander in Chief will do.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: check your calendar and enjoy these last few days

      If Donald 'Tremendous' Trump does re-institute the draft then they'll need that wall to the south and an even bigger one to the north to stop the avoiders from jumping ship.

      It will also send out a clear message to Putin, the NORKS and the Chinese that the USA is preparing for war.

      Not a good move IMHO.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: check your calendar and enjoy these last few days

        "and an even bigger one to the north"

        My cousin benefited enormously from the Vietnam War. It took the threat of being killed to jerk him out of his comfortable existence on campus. He went north to avoid the draft and ended up a full professor.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: check your calendar and enjoy these last few days

        >It will also send out a clear message to Putin, the NORKS and the Chinese that the USA is preparing for war.

        Twitter will do that. The draft will be instituted hastily after the crap starts as planning (and consistency) is not one of the Donald's strong points.

  4. Michael Thibault
    IT Angle

    >recruit about 3,000 troops skilled in online warfare

    You're going to turn a blind eye to any claims of relevant experience, of course. Right?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The military never understands what they have in a volunteer. This kind of job would have been straight up my ally when I was in the Marine Corps. I joined late. By the time I enlisted I had about 6 years experience as a network and systems admin. Two prior to that doing helpdesk work. I would have needed training for sure, but my background demonstrated aptitude and an interest.

    I had not completed college, but took the ASVAB and scored the maximum. When I joined open contract where did they stick me? Fucking supply behind a desk doing the most tedious snorefest for work.

    I begged to be switched to infantry in boot camp and in combat training. Anything but fucking supply, but the monitor for supply wouldn't give me up. I would have fucking crawled on my hands and knees if I knew I was going to be sitting behind a fucking desk and in a warehouse LITERALLY counting tent spikes. I was strong, I was smart, I was dedicated and this was effectively my task on any given day. Talk about feeling epically underutilised.

    So back I went as soon as I could to the civilian world, picked up a systems administrator position with a high tech company, finished college with my G.I. Bill benefits and never looked back. That doesn't even take into account the massive salary cut the military compared to before and after.

    Would I go back? Sure, fast track me to an OE-3, pay me a comparable salary to what I get now, train me appropriately, and I'd even be willing to get my ass a bit more in shape so I meet fitness standards, but ya... not gonna happen. And there-in lies the problem with 'recruitment'.

    1. 2Nick3

      If, after 4 years, you were still counting tent spikes your command had no faith in you to do more than that. Showing no personal drive or initiative is exactly how you make sure that no one minds if you don't re-up, and prevents you from finding opportunities down other career paths.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Only in your fictional universe was I offered exactly nothing to re enlist. Quite the contrary, but spending a couple years to finish college, not to mention running through all the year plus shit to get commissioned via MECEP in a system you haven't much faith in pails compared to just going out and getting a job and instantly improving your situation. There's an order to things in the military and you don't just magic your ass to the top without a while lot of time ans effort that can often times be spent better elsewhere if you have options.

        It doesn't even bring into the equation the personal aspect being married to someone who you spent a year stationed overseas from just to return weeks before they were deployed. No fault of the USMC or the Navy, but that shit wears on you too.

        Feel free to come over and run through my medals, commendations, and promotion warrants though. There might be some more than you expect for 4 years. Then you can apologize.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, if Rudy Giuliani is overall charge

    then they've already lost.

  7. Christoph

    "convincing them to sign up for military life in the Marine Corps could be a very tough sell indeed"

    The stereotypical hacker physique is pretty much antithetical to what the US Marines insist on. Digging them out from behind the piles of empty pizza boxes and Jolt Cola bottles to do basic training would be distinctly non-trivial.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      RE: stereotypical hacker physique

      I know one guy who does ultra-marathons for fun - after about 100 miles he has the program written in his head. It's Trump who's sitting on his bed with a pile of pizza boxes.

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Civilian managements who don't want to pay the going rate also have problems recruiting staff. Maybe he should do what they do: outsource to India. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. BongoJoe

      If they outsource to India who is going to answer my bank's phones?

  9. Nolveys

    "Cyber Command"

    sounds like a cartoon aimed at 10 year old boys. I can't think of anything with a "cyber" prefix that I could take seriously.

  10. Pen-y-gors

    Bit of empire building here?

    Why does the US Marine Corps need a cyber-offense capability?

    I appreciate that the US Marines still exist as a separate entity (as do the Royal Marines) for historical reasons. Navies fought on water, armies fought on land, and eventually, Air Forces fought in the air, and Marines were soldiers who fought from ships.

    But surely there is no need for a country to duplicate specialist units in each service? Cyber-skills are needed but wouldn't it make more sense to have a single team that provides a central cyber-resource? Given the tendency of each service to guard their own territory and treat the other services as a bigger threat than the enemy, I can see great opportunities for chaos and confusion as each services cyber warriors plant malware on the same Russian system, and then spend ages attacking the people who planted the other malware!

    A military unit with the job of running up beaches, guns blazing, really doesn't need its own cyber-offense unit.

    Time for a central unit I think, in the same way that things like Military Intelligence are usually handled.

    1. Alistair

      Re: Bit of empire building here?

      @ Pen-y-gors:

      "Cyber-skills are needed but wouldn't it make more sense to have a single team that provides a central cyber-resource?"

      The key word in your sentence is "sense". This is military. And US military. And US military Industrial Complex.

      Go back and read US history. Several versions since there isn't a single version that stands as correct.

      a) Corruption is rampant. Everywhere it is about making someone OTHER than the serving soldier money.

      b) endlessly, needlessly, reduplicated redundancy is an absolute and utter requirement in order for the profits to make it to the sadly ignored and maligned profiteers of wallstreet.

      c) for each and every iteration of a process in the services invoke (b) as frequently as possible in order to invoke (c).

      Oh, and while we're at it, save as much money as possible when it comes to treating *anything* the serving soldier is diagnosed with. Just to be saving the profits for the poor maligned profiteers of wallstreet.

      <who? Me? no, I'm a Canadian. Sadly, if it is at all possible, we treat our service (men/women) even more atrociously than do the 'murricans, and Yes, I know more than a few personally>

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bit of empire building here?

      (as do the Royal Marines) for historical reasons.

      The Royal Navy used to fight on land as well as at sea without marines to help them. The Marines were perhaps originally there to protect the officers from the crew in event of mutiny, which is why they were billeted between them. (Of course, it may be that this was for even more historical reasons - when in early fighting ships the officers steered at the back, the crew worked the sails, and the soldiers were in the low part in the middle doing the fighting more or less hand to hand alongside the enemy.

      The problem with a modern combined ops unit - which is what the Marines seem to be - is that the more capable you make the members, the more expensive they become and the more you need to pay to get the people you want. The same is happening with military kit. Eventually it's going to be overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers of a low tech military with lots of cheap soldiers and kit, because (for instance) no matter how high tech your aircraft, tank or ship eventually it's going to run out of fuel or ammunition.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bit of empire building here?

        eventually it's going to be overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers of a low tech military with lots of cheap soldiers and kit,

        Heading this way fast. Look at the ever decreasing numbers of fighters, bombers, destroyers, etc, all the time predicated that "this new piece of kit is X times as effective as the old one." - although the main reality is that pork barrel procurement, plus kid-in-the-sweet-shop specifications mean that the cosr has gone up by orders of magnitude.

        The F35 is the archetype of this idiocy (having out-idioted the prior award holder, the F22), but there's plenty more examples from all round the world. Military leaders seem incapable of grasping the nettle of procurement, and don't even seem to appreciate basics like the mathematical relationship between complexity and unreliability, nor the reality that the weapons platforms should be simple, robust and not unduly expensive, with the advanced capabilities mainly in the weapons themselves, and any on-platform elements containerised to keep the weapons systems separate from the ship or airframe.

    3. Crazy Operations Guy

      "Time for a central unit I think"


      I've always thought that the various military 'cyber commands' should be spun off into their own division. While they are at it, scrap the NSA, send their offensive teams to the newly created military branch, the intelligence units to the CIA, and then spin off a new governmental agency responsible for defensive-only type stuff.

      That way any offensive activities fall under the rules of combat, the intelligence stuff is where the rest of the foreign intelligence stuff is (I'm not a big fan of the CIA, but I'd rather one organization being shady rather than several).

      I figure that a proper defensive organization would also take a few pieces from other organizations and would act as the InfoSec department for the entire government, and even would do work for state/county/city level governments as well. Essentially NIST, but with consultants. Maybe even, with proper oversight, tap into the NSA's network taps at the US borders and implement multi-layer firewalls to block malware, spam, botnet, and attack traffic from coming into the US. Maybe also set up a certification process, similar to UL, for evaluating the security of internet-connected devices before going to market.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bit of empire building here? Will see this again from AF & Army upper echelons

      Agree in triplicate - Army, Air Force and Marines.

      They need to keep their eyes on the enemy and maintain whatever security staff to provide and support the eyes. Leave the offensive work to a new cyber force.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Trump run military with cyber warriors?

    The few. The proud. The 400 pounders sitting on a bed somewhere.

  12. The Dark Side

    Uncle Sams Misguided Children

    Since the Donald says he knows everything about hacking and he says that he`s a smart guy. He won`t use the ARMY (as they Aren't Really Marines Yet), the USMC will do the best FUBAR to anyone who tries to hack Uncle Sam.

  13. JCitizen

    They will have to come crawling on their knees!!!!

    Because they did not accept me the first four times I tried - Hey I got glasses so what!!?? Mr four eyes ain't so easy to forgive an forget!

  14. HmmmYes

    Maybe just maybe the stratgey that beat the USSR - force the Ruskies o wreck their economy by upping spending - a war of attrition on the military budget - has now backfired on the US?

    The threats to the US - apart from itself -are Russia and China. There's no way either of those will get into a spending war with the states on planes and guns and ships. Fckit, they are years behind.

    So both countries have done the smart thing and chosen the battle they want to fight - cyber war. Which happens to be the one that the US has ignored - mainly because it was too busy wasting money on plane and guns and boats.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3000 for online warfare?

    Thats the Battlefield 1 servers fucked then.

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