This is the first in a series of profiles featuring 2012 U.S. Government Information Security Leadership Award (GISLA) winners. The winners received the awards in October from (ISC)2 a nonprofit serving certified information security professionals and administrators.

During a time of significant demand for — and an equally significant shortage of — skilled cyber security professionals, Commander of the Army Reserve Information Operations Command (ARIOC), Col. John Diaz assembled and led a 10-person cadre that set a training strategy into motion that systematically transforms ARIOC’s workforce into elite combat-ready cyber warriors.

“We have them. They are within our ranks,” said Col. Diaz.

Diaz’s specific efforts in finding and training cyber warriors, however, may prove to be a model for other teams after being recognized with a 2012 (ISC)2 U.S. Government Information Security Leadership Award recipient in the Workforce Improvement Category.

The ARIOC Cyber Warrior Training project is an ongoing effort to transform the ARIOC into the premier Reserve Component cyber force and “operationalize” it into a force ready “to conduct Computer Network Operations in support of Army and Joint Commands to achieve information superiority of cyberspace.”

This large-scale project was launched to accomplish the following objectives, according to Diaz:

• Lead, train, and deploy adaptive and skilled Cyber CNO forces to assure integrated CNO effects within both warfighting and business mission areas;
• Build and shape a ready and relevant CNO force – trained Cyber warriors with the mind, spirit, body, and skills illustrating the Warrior Ethos that enables the Army to fight and win the Nation’s battles;
• Prepare, deploy, and reintegrate these Cyber warriors using the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) model in flexible, modular force structures and to do so within a unified approach with Joint, Agency, and Service partners to be effective, efficient, and lethal.

The training project employs a methodology that builds upon individual and collective capabilities that begins with education but is reinforced with experience.

Soldiers and teams are provided a variety of training opportunities (i.e. exercises, Cyber X-games and even short-term tours).

Education, certification, and experience opportunities are synchronized with the ARFORGEN model, the Army’s approach to meeting combatant commanders’ requirements of employing a rotational, more predictable plan for deployments.

Training opportunities are continued, reshaped and built collectively through participation in various working groups and critical key leader engagements. Also, ARIOC units will use collective training, exercises and mission support opportunities to ensure it is adequately prepared for mobilization.