Cyber still largely missing from military graduate programs

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Although the Defense Department has acknowledged that future military conflicts will have a cyber component, graduate programs at military academies still lack adequate information technology and cybersecurity curriculum.

An Aug. 7 report (.pdf) by Pell Center Fellow Francesca Spidalieri finds that, of the six military graduate programs surveyed that offer joint professional military education--a requirement for becoming a Joint Staff Officer and promotion to senior ranks--there's a tendency to prepare students for traditional theories and rules of war rather than managing cyber operations.

"On the whole, the schools that offer joint professional military education (JPME) are, like their civilian counterparts, not yet up to the challenge posed by cyber risks and opportunities," says Spidalieri, in a Pell Center blog post.

Ever-changing cyber threats should be reviewed and traditional military paradigms should be assessed in light of this changing envirionment, writes Spidalieri in the report.

"Achieving cybersecurity is more than a technical issue and it demands cyberstrategic leadership across the whole range of societal institutions and military services," she writes.

The report ranks the programs by assigning points for core IT courses; elective IT and cybersecurity course; and availability of related seminars conferences and training. Among those surveyed the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. had the most cyber curriculum offerings, while the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Penn. had the lowest score.

Military programs are doing more to develop new, cyber-related content for students, says the report. Not only are these developments commendable, they outpace cyber-curriculum integration with non-technical graduate programs at civilian universities, writes Spidalieri.

Still, she says, more can be done to ally course work and military goals.

"Military institutions of higher learning must be an incubator of these non-technical cyber leaders, blending theory and doctrine, with methodology, tools, and implementation, and aligning their curricula with the strategic goals of the nation's cyber defense strategy," writes Spidalieri.

For more:
- read the Pell blog post
- download the report, "Joint Professional Military Education Institutions in an Age of Cyber Threat" (.pdf)

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