U.S. Cyber Command this year is recruiting and training airmen to join one of the Air Force's 39 cyber mission force teams that will be established over the next two years. The command needs about 1,715 airmen for the Air Force teams, as part of a Defense Department-wide effort that will put in place 133 cyber mission force teams with 6,000 personnel by 2017.
The mission will rely on participation from 900 Reserve Component cyber operations airmen, who could find themselves assigned to associate units that work with active-duty units, equipment and resources.
"Were expanding not just in cyber mission forces but other areas within the Air Force that support 24th Air Force," the numbered Air Force that defends the service's networks, said Col. Joseph Herold, reserve adviser to the chief, Information Dominance and Chief Information Officer, in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force.
Herold said in the future, the Reserve wants associate units providing skills to three cyber protection teams — smaller teams within DoD's cyber missions forces. Associate units also will continue "operating the firewalls and the gateways for the Air Force."
"We have associate units with various active-duty units in the Air Force … these are specific in operating and defending the Air Force network," Herold said.
In the end, it's to bring in more manpower without having to leverage new resources.
Another "sweet spot," Herold said, for both the Guard and Reserve is working in cyber protection teams because members not only have Air Force training, but also bring in their civilian expertise and experience.
"We want to retain that investment by offering them an opportunity to come into the Air Force Reserve and continue to serve as part of the total force, while also pursuing their civilian career," Herold said.
Right now, cyber Reserve airmen predominantly work in the San Antonio area, but associate units will also be manned at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Herold said.
While the Air Force is working to meet its requirement from USCYBERCOM, working to get airmen in and ready to go is the challenge across the board, Herold said.
"We have to get the right people in and through the pipeline," Herold said. "The challenge [has been] to get the right folks in at the right time to enable us to get everyone up to speed according to the timelines that we're trying to make."