The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is prioritizing hiring and retention in the fields of in the fields of cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science and software development.  The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act mandated DoD assess the skills required for, and the diversity of, its STEM and research and engineering workforce.  DoD also must evaluate the “existing hiring, recruitment, and retention incentives for women and minorities in the research and engineering workforce” and its effectiveness in recruiting women and underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities in STEM programs. The DoD Emerging Technologies Talent Marketplace is the foundation of that effort.

Gen. Paul Nakasone

“The challenge is ensuring we retain our very best. Those very best are often exponentially better than their peers—10 or 20 times better. They’re coders, they’re forensic and malware analysts, they’re developers, they’re operators who are x times better than those to their left or right. Those are the folks we must ensure we retain. They are the ones we are in fierce competition to keep. . . .

“The return on investment the cyber force has brought over the last several years is a direct result of the accomplishments of the talented cyber workforce provided by the services. Talent management is key. We have learned that financial incentives retain people, but not necessarily the most talented people. Keeping the best of the best focused on the hardest but most rewarding aspects of our unique missions is one of our best retention tools. Over the coming year we will engage the services to continue building a manpower model to support retaining the most talented professionals.”

GEN. PAUL M. NAKASONE
Commander, U.S. Cyber Command and Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service

Lt. Gen. Michael Groen

“Like with any set of transformational technologies, we have a lot of work to do in broadly understanding the transformative nature and the implications of AI integration, We are surrounded by examples in every major industry of data-driven enterprises that operate with speed and efficiency and leave their competitors in the dust. We want that. … We have to do this; it will make us more effective, more efficient.”

LT. GEN. MICHAEL S. GROEN
Director, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center 

“I look at this as a total force issue, much broader than the department. I think the challenge will be the education side — education with regard to the opportunities that are available. Making sure that programs like our cyber scholarship program are out there and visible and that we continue to recruit the right type of talent.”

ESSYE MILLER
DoD’s first black female principal deputy CIO
(Retired June 2020)