Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be in the military.
Now, I might finally have my chance!
In the past, I had some barriers to this. It’s not like I never looked into this.
- Too fat. Most of my life, I have been athletic. The food input was the issue.
- At 16, the Iraq war broke out. My parents both had problems with me joining the military due to them losing friends in Vietnam.
- At 19, I considered taking a semester off of school and joining the reserves to help get a job in law enforcement when graduating. My scholarship fund I was on did not permit this, had I left college, I would lose my scholarship and not afford to go back.
- At 29, I looked into OCS, but I was 295 pounds and needed to shed well over a hundred. Apparently, the cutoff for OCS was 29 or something like that at the time and I had zero chance of losing that weight that quickly.
- At 37, I looked into the reserves, but the only options were 4 months of boot camp which I could not afford to lose my job (and wages) over.
A week ago, I came across a YouTube video about direct commissions. He said something about cyber. I’m like….what?
So I looked into it.
Many people know that if you are a doctor or a lawyer, you can join the military with something called “direct commission”. Today, they expanded this further to include “cyber”.
This is the Navy reserve program.
The army program for direct commission is ONLY active duty at this time. It will be moving to the reserves.
Air Force: https://afreserve.com/officer-cyber-warfare-operations
Navy – 40. The general age requirement for the Navy Reserve is that you must be between the ages of 18-39 and be able to have 20 years of total service by age 60. The cyber warfare program says 35.
Army – 41.
Air Force – 39 I believe.
Navy – it looks like 5 weeks of Officer Development School in Rhode Island. When completed, you start as an ensign in the reserves.
Army – 4 weeks of officer school, then 12 more weeks of IT training. You are then “active duty” and report to Ft. Meade. However, the reserves have not come out with this yet. I can’t do active duty and get sent to Georgia for 3 years. Graduates start at First Lt.
Air Force – 9 weeks of school in AL and then you are commissioned as a First Lt.
But I’m 42. And I’m still fat at 246 pounds. What are my options?
When I heard about the cyber direct commissions, I dug in, like only I do. I have spent about the last 10 days frantically finding every shred of information I can. And….it looks like there’s a path for me.
- I’m going to have to continue to lose weight. The Army needs you at 25% bodyfat. The Navy says 186 pounds for my height. Not sure of the Air Force, but let’s assume it’s going to be in the 185-195 range.
- I may be able to be direct commissioned at a higher rank.
- I may be able to get in at 43. I turn 43 in November.
Well, there’s something called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2019. This just passed a few weeks ago. Essentially, they’ve been having a problem attracting talent from the private sector. I can tell you, no one worth $125-175k on the street is leaving that job to make $40k at a First Lt. No one. Additionally, those NCOs they had with 10 years experience and have a bachelor’s degree are leaving in droves to cash in at 90k to do desktop support as their first job out.
Also…what happened….Russia. I’m not going to get into any politics with this post, but suffice it to say, our friends and enemies have information warfare capabilities that may not necessarily be as good as ours, but it can be infinitely more effective. Think of this: In a desert warfare scenario, what cyber targets do I have? Now, let’s reverse that. What targets do they have of us? Everything in this country is “plugged in”. Our dependence on information systems to do everything is our achilles heel. Our stock market, our power grid, our banking systems. Think about how pissed you get when your power goes out for 30 minutes in the middle of summer? Now, imagine no power for 6 weeks because a logic bomb in a smart power grid cooked a bunch of power generation plants.
So – while no one can ever invade us, with the right cyber tools, the right conditions, and the right personnel on their side, they can take our homeland down a few pegs. Our entire defense budget is predicated on a booming economy. The way to defeat our military on the battle field is to defeat our financial systems at the homeland. Currently, DHS is tasked with defending this. From what I have read, the reserve components may not only work with securing DoD entities, but also pitch in with DHS.
But what’s new?
I read about this in some articles, then I checked it out for myself.
- They have removed the age limits from law.
- They have now authorized direct commissions up to O6 (colonel in AF/Army, Captain in the Navy).
To the best of my knowledge, many doctors today can go in up to a Lt. Col, depending on their experience.
With cyber, this can allow leaders in Information Technology be able to join in at advanced ranks like in the JAG or medical corps.
Nate, you have to be making this shit up, right?
Nope. I’m not going to cite you some shitty newspaper article, although I will place some legitimate defense newsletters below that summarize this. I’ve called up the recruiters, and this hasn’t hit any of them yet. From what I have read, the changes may come down in January at the beginning of the next calendar year. The law was just changed, meaning they have to craft new policies and roll all of them out. That takes time!
The NDAA 2019:
Specifically, I found section 501 and 502 of most interest. (open the text in PDF)
SEC. 501. REPEAL OF REQUIREMENT FOR ABILITY TO COMPLETE 20 YEARS OF SERVICE BY AGE 62 AS QUALIFICATION FOR ORIGINAL APPOINTMENT AS A REGULAR COMMISSIONED OFFICER. (a) REPEAL.—Subsection (a) of section 532 of title 10, United States Code, is amended— (1) by striking paragraph (2); and (2) by redesignating paragraphs (3), (4), and (5) as paragraphs (2), (3), and (4), respectively. (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT.—Such section is further amended by striking subsection (d). (c) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to original appointments of regular commissioned officers of the Armed Forces made on or after that date.
SEC. 502. ENHANCEMENT OF AVAILABILITY OF CONSTRUCTIVE SERVICE CREDIT FOR PRIVATE SECTOR TRAINING OR EXPERIENCE UPON ORIGINAL APPOINTMENT AS A COMMISSIONED OFFICER. (a) REGULAR OFFICERS.— (1) IN GENERAL.—Subsection (b) of section 533 of title 10, United States Code, is amended— (A) in paragraph (1), by striking subparagraph (D) and inserting the following new subparagraph (D): ‘‘(D) Additional credit for special training or experience in a particular officer career field as designated by the Secretary concerned, if such training or experience is directly related to the operational needs of the armed force concerned.’’; and (B) in paragraph (2)— (i) by striking ‘‘Except as authorized by the Secretary concerned in individual cases and under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense in the case of a medical or dental officer, the amount’’ and inserting ‘‘The amount’’; and (ii) by striking ‘‘in the grade of major in the Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps or lieutenant commander in the Navy’’ and inserting ‘‘in the grade of colonel in the Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps or captain in the Navy’’. (2) REPEAL OF TEMPORARY AUTHORITY FOR SERVICE CREDIT FOR CRITICALLY NECESSARY CYBERSPACE-RELATED EXPERIENCE.—Such section is further amended— (A) in subsections (a)(2) and (c), by striking ‘‘or (g)’’; and (B) by striking subsection (g). (b) RESERVE OFFICERS.— (1) IN GENERAL.—Subsection (b) of section 12207 of title 10, United States Code, is amended— (A) in paragraph (1), by striking subparagraph (D) and inserting the following new subparagraph (D): ‘‘(D) Additional credit for special training or experience in a particular officer career field as designated by the Secretary
H.R.5515—105 concerned, if such training or experience is directly related to the operational needs of the armed force concerned.’’; and (B) by striking paragraph (3) and inserting the following new paragraph (3): ‘‘(3) The amount of constructive service credit credited to an officer under this subsection may not exceed the amount required in order for the officer to be eligible for an original appointment as a reserve officer of the Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps in the grade of colonel or as a reserve officer of the Navy in the grade of captain.’’. (2) REPEAL OF TEMPORARY AUTHORITY FOR SERVICE CREDIT FOR CRITICALLY NECESSARY CYBERSPACE-RELATED EXPERIENCE.—Such section is further amended— (A) by striking subsection (e); (B) by redesignating subsections (f) and (g) as subsections (e) and (f), respectively; and (C) in subsection (e), as redesignated by subparagraph (B), by striking ‘‘, (d), or (e)’’ and inserting ‘‘or (d)’’
To summarize my qualifications:
- I have an undergraduate in Informatics (information systems) with a master’s in cyber security and a master’s in business administration.
- In IT, I have some very difficult certifications that demonstrate technical knowledge above my peers: CISSP, PMP, MCSE (server 2012), MCSA (server 2008), Security+, Server+, Network+, A+, MCTS-SCCM 2007, MCP (NT 4.0). I was about to take my Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) when I got my new job 18 months ago.
- I have 22 years of experience in progressive responsibility. Currently, I manage 70 contractors at a military base on a large contract. I work under US Cybercom/Netcom now, and have since their inception. I have TS clearance which also speeds up the process.
- I have worked in cyber for about 10 years now on the defensive side. I was a System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) architect over large enterprises. This tool was used to patch systems (hardening), deliver new operating systems (OSD), and send 3rd party patches/tools via silent scripting in batch, vbscript, powershell, etc.
- I have managed cyber and CND teams. I have advanced experience/knowledge on not only cyber missions within the DoD, but I have managed tons of IT/cyber resources over the last decade.
- I have also worked as a team lead/manager for 15 years, give or take. This deals with designing processes, dealing with budgets, leading the morale, devising advanced technical solutions to implement, writing policies, hiring, interviewing, and managing some of the most difficult and creative individuals in the technical realm.
- I have had enterprise-level technical abilities in cross disciplines. So I’m aware of how data centers interact with the cloud, networking, firewalls, IDS, HIPS/HIDS, workstation patching, vulnerability scan/remediation, STIGs, etc.
My next steps:
- Continue my weight loss plan. Be a bit more stringent and on-focus. Don’t settle for a 5 pound weight loss in a month when 8 might be achievable with a little more work.
- Ensure I rest properly. This means that while I may push myself, I am indeed 42 and will need to rest.
- Increase my weight training. For the past few months, I’ve only been doing Saturdays. I’m going to start also doing a Wednesday morning at 4AM workout. I’m up at 4:40 every day for work. One day a week, I’m going to get up at 4AM to then get another full body workout in.
- Increase my running. I am running about a 12 minute mile in perfect conditions, or about 18 minutes for 1.5 miles when pushing it. The cutoff is about 15 minutes I’ve seen for this. I have about 50-60 pounds yet to take off. I’m going to keep up with 2-3 runs per week. As my weight goes down, I expect my times to also go down.
- Increase my push ups. With keto, you don’t necessarily have a great push up factory going. You don’t have explosiveness for long durations due to lack of glycogen stores. I’m probably going to start with 5-10 pushups every since day when I wake up and just build on that.
All being said, this could be a reality. Or, I could be denied. But it appears now that a crack has opened in the window and I’ll be damned if I don’t at least try.
I think some people are afraid of being bold and being rejected – and what people might think of them for failing. I don’t give a shit. I have always reached for the sky. Once in awhile, I get shot down good. But you will never succeed if you don’t line up and give it your all.
The next 6-8 months, I expect that last 50 pounds to come off.
Dialed in. I have no idea what branch might even have interest in me, or how quickly the changes in law permeate down through to the recruiters.
We shall see!