Army JROTC Training Next Generation Of Cybersecurity Leaders
by Kyle Crawford U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs
June 1, 2022
“The Army is committed to investing in our nation’s youth, and the need for emerging technology talent continues to grow,” Maj. Gen. Johnny K. Davis, the commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command, said.
The Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (Army JROTC) will launch a new cyber pilot program, designed to provide Cadets an introduction to the critical field of cybersecurity, during the 2022-23 school year at several high schools across the nation.
Cadets from James Clemens High Schools join in on the computer assembly learning activity during the Army JROTC Cyber pilot program kickoff event, Huntsville, Alabama on April 27, 2022. Throughout the event attendees learned about the cyber security industry, meet experts in the field and participate in workshops. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from photo by Kyle Crawford, U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs.)
Enrolled students will have the opportunity to study under the guidance of cyber instructors to hone their skills in a hands-on curriculum and can receive industry-recognized certifications. Students can begin the program at any grade level. In addition, Cadets will train to become better citizens through traditional Army JROTC lessons.
Army JROTC Cyber is a complementary component with a dedicated focus on expanding science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) opportunities. The four-year curriculum was developed in collaboration with the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army - Manpower and Reserve Affairs (ASA M&RA), U.S. Army Cadet Command (USACC) and the cybersecurity experts at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).
During a conference April 26-27, 2022 at UAH with incoming Army JROTC Cyber instructors, senior Army leaders and industry partners, Davis announced the program.
“I am thrilled to launch this innovative JROTC program that will encourage and inspire JROTC Cadets to hopefully pursue careers and opportunities in cyber and STEM.” Davis said.
Eleven schools across the country will participate in the Army JROTC Cyber program during its inaugural year.
Francis Lewis High School – Fresh Meadows, N.Y.
Franklin Military Academy – Richmond, Va.
Jackson-Reed High School – Washington D.C.
Liberty Magnet High School – Baton Rouge, La.
Missouri Military Academy – Mexico, Mo.
New Mexico Military Institute – Roswell, N.M.
Putman City West High School – Oklahoma City, Okla.
Shortridge High School – Indianapolis, Ind.
Sidney Lanier High School – San Antonio, Texas
Thomas Edison High School – Queens, N.Y.
Vanguard High School – Mesquite, Texas
Maj. (Ret.) Crystal Armstrong, Liberty Magnet High School, is one of the many Soldiers For Life who have stepped up to teach the first cohort of Army JROTC Cyber Cadets.
“The most important thing is that the students will get hands-on experience working with us,” Armstrong said. “The goal is to teach the kids a lot about the systems and help them get their certifications so that they can be successful earlier in the cyber community.”
Armstrong was an information systems officer for several years during her Army career. At one point she was the chief officer in charge of an unclassified and classified server network serving over 10,000 personnel. Armstrong holds a master’s degree in the cyber field.
Armstrong said Liberty Magnet High School Army JROTC has seen strong interest in the incoming cyber program with 72 students already signed up. This is in addition to the school’s established traditional Army JROTC program with three instructors and approximately 150 Cadets.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Mark O’Connor, the senior Army instructor at Jackson-Reed High School, will be leading cyber classes this fall.
“Cyber is definitely the future, it’s going to impact all aspects of their lives,” O’Connor said. “There’s no part in society that won’t be touched in some way, shape or form for all of our students. Giving them these skills now will open up numerous opportunities…”
O’Connor is a great example of a teacher gaining experience in the modern cyber field. Within the past year he has taken classes with the GenCyber program hosted by the University of North Georgia and is actively training with Army JROTC Cyber curriculum designers.
Upon the completion of the program, students will have the foundation that will allow them to take their knowledge to the next level in the civilian workforce, higher education, or military service.
There were 597,767 online job listings for cybersecurity-related positions between October 2020 and September 2021, according to CyberSeek.org, a job tracking site supported by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), a program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
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