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Reserve Component launches direct commission program; constructive service credit for cyberspace warfare operations career field

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

The Department of the Air Force has announced that the Air Reserve component has initiated a direct commission and constructive service credit program memo for people interested in serving in the cyber security and cyberspace warfare operations career fields.

Brig. Gen. Terrence Adams, deputy principal cyber advisor to the Secretary of Defense and senior military advisor for Cyber Policy, made the announcement on behalf of the Air Force at the Aspen Institute Cyber Summit in New York.

“As our nation faces tough challenges in the cyberspace warfighting domain, the Air Force Reserve needs the best talent America has to offer,” Adams said. “The Cyber Direct Commission program is designed to attract highly skilled cyber professionals from industry and enlisted career fields who want to serve their nation in a part time capacity.”

Enlisted personnel and civilians qualified to serve as Air Force Warfighter Communications Operators (17D) and Cyberspace Effects Operators (17S) can earn a direct commission as an Air Force officer. Also eligible are personnel who are qualified to earn a cyberspace engineer/agile software developer – Cyberspace Engineering “Z” prefix as outlined in the Air Force Officer Classification Directory. 

“This program will allow the service to access cutting edge talent and leverage private sector skills to make us more competitive in the changing world environment,” said Alex Wagner, assistance secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

A review board will determine if candidates are eligible for constructive service credit for prior commissioned service, advanced education, and special training or experience.

Constructive service credit is used to determine initial grade, rank and service for promotion eligibility and is usually granted in year-long increments.

Applicants must meet the following criteria: 

·   Be eligible for a commission in the Air Force, including physical standards for entrance

·   Possess or be eligible for a top secret/sensitive compartmented information security clearance

·   Have a quantifiable record of leadership, management or supervisory experience in academia, civilian and/or military organizations (preferred)

·   Have qualifying advanced education, specialized training and/or experience in cyber-related fields as outlined in the memo

Candidates will incur an initial four-year Selective Reserve obligation from the date of appointment or commission and an additional four-year Inactive Ready Reserve obligation. They will also be required to complete the U.S. Air Force Officer Training School program. Their monthly reserve obligation will depend on the needs of their units, training requirements and mission requirements.

This program follows a regular Air Force pilot program for direct commissioning into cyber career fields and constructive service credit launched in 2020. 

This is the first time the reserve component has opened direct commissions to career fields other than lawyers, chaplains and medical personnel. The service may consider expanding the direct commission program to other reserve and Guard career fields in the future.

Career fields that may be considered are operations analyst, intelligence, security forces, chemist, nuclear chemist, physicists, nuclear physicists, developmental engineer and acquisition manager.