KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Airman 1st Class Josephino Cambosa, 333rd Training Squadron student, became the first non-prior service Airman to graduate the Cyber Warfare Operations Apprentice Course here, April 10.
“I am honored to be the first non-prior service pipeline student,” said Cambosa. “I am excited to join like-minded individuals in a team effort to defend our nation’s cyberspace.”
The Air Force’s cyber warfare operations enlisted Airmen are on the front lines of the nation’s offensive and defensive cyber operations.
The Airmen go through the initial skills training as part of the CWO schoolhouse at Keesler AFB.
Over the course of 97 academic days, Airmen are trained on hardware and software, operating systems, programming, networks, cryptography and more.
“It is definitely more challenging than an average technical training I’ve been through,” said Cambosa. “The instructors impart a lot of knowledge, technical skills and they maintain a lot of technical expertise.”
Prior to attending the CWO course, Cambosa attended the Air Force’s Pilot Training Next program at the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental Detachment 1 in Austin, Texas and completed the cyber transport systems initial skills training at Keesler AFB as a prerequisite for CWO.
Due to the difficulty in finding and identifying people with the aptitude to succeed in cyber warfare, the career field is not available for first term Airmen, resulting in being a cross train only Air Force Specialty Code.
“This is a problem facing industry at large,” said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Agard, Cyberwarfare Career Field manager. “It’s a challenge not unique to the Air Force. It’s trying to find people that have the cognitive ability to succeed in the career field.”
Airmen from any career field wishing to cross train into CWO must have minimum scores of a 64 in the general category on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and a 60 on the electronic data processing test. Applicants are then manually screened and then further assessed to see if they are a fit for the career field.
However, starting in fiscal year 2019, an initiative was started allowing select Airmen in the cyber transport systems pipeline who show that they possess the ability to succeed in CWO, to be placed in the pipeline.
“The career field has initiated a test run of NPS candidates attending a closely related career field for potential cross-flow into the CWO career field and meeting certain criteria,” said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Risher, 333rd CWO instructor. “Cambosa is the first of these test cases, which brings high-performing NPS candidates from the cyber systems technical training pipeline into the CWO pipeline.”
By opening up the career field to first term Airmen, the Air Force can develop the skills and increase the depth of experience starting early in an Airman’s career.
“What this does is allow us to find more talent at a younger age,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Miller, 333rd TRS commander. “Get them into the heavier offensive and defensive side of cyber warfare. Getting them in here earlier and start building them from scratch.”