The Navy and Marine Corps need to develop a civilian information technology and cyberspace workforce as steeped in business skills as technical expertise, according to the Navy Cyber/IT Workforce Strategic Plan for fiscal 2010 through 2013, released on July 16.
Developed by Navy Chief Information Officer Rob Carey, who will join the Fleet Cyber Command later this year, the plan focuses on aligning IT priorities with mission requirements and integrating technology into business processes, creating a need for IT professionals with not only technical savvy but also business and interpersonal skills.
"Looking forward, the [Navy] will continue to seek IT professionals who understand business fundamentals and are able to collaborate and work with individuals at all levels throughout the department, from end users, to engineers, to executives," the workforce plan said.
The Navy employs 10,399 civilian and 13,997 uniformed IT and cyberspace professionals. The Marine Corps has 1,804 civilian employees and 7,698 uniformed service members in those fields.
To attract IT specialists with the desired business skills, the services must develop flexible work policies to be competitive in a tight job market, the report said. New "Net generation" workers, as the report describes them, demand "flexibility in work hours, pay for performance, the ability to have their voices heard, continual performance feedback, and access to advanced technology and social networking applications."
The workforce plan advocates telecommuting to attract and retain IT professionals. "A diverse and geographically dispersed workforce is engaged, innovative and collaborative," the report said. "Flexible and productive work arrangements are supported in our work environments. The future will require this trend to continue."
The plan details efforts to develop and manage a Navywide cybersecurity and information assurance workforce, including an emphasis on continuous learning through commercial certification and higher education. Full- and part-time master's degree and doctoral programs would be offered at the Naval Postgraduate School, the Air Force Institute of Technology, the Information Resources Management College, and more than 2,700 approved colleges and universities.
Since IT is embedded in almost every Navy and Marine Corps activity, the workforce plan details an education program called Decision Superiority in Cyberspace for senior flag officers and members of the Senior Executive Service. The program emphasizes the importance of information technology in naval operations, the fundamentals of an IT network, current and future technologies, and ways to defend against threats to systems and information.
In the report, Navy Undersecretary Robert Work underscored the significance of information technology to warfighting missions: "Every IT professional in the Navy and Marine Corps has to think of themselves as a warrior. The network is their weapon."