All posts by JKallberg45

Retention is Key for Cyber Talent Management


If the armed forces seek to create a more significant force, recruitment and training of cyber support will only meet demand if retention is high. (Bill Roche/Army Cyber Command)
The United States is an engineering country where technical solutions are born, and solutions are thought up, in an innovation-friendly environment of academia and industry. There are gaps, but the United States is highly adaptive and able to face technological challenges due to its research capacity and industrial base.

The more substantial challenges are retention, maintaining an able workforce and transferring the willingness to serve to the next generation. The cost for the Department of Defense to recruit and train, or transition a mid-career officer, are high. Equally challenging is the time to replace an officer that decides to leave the armed forces. This is a simple math problem: If the armed forces seek to create a more significant force, recruitment and training will only meet demand if retention is high; otherwise, the inflow is only compensating the outflow from the service.

With the strengthening of the American economy, combined with a radically increased demand for information security competence in the civilian workforce, retention of cyber skills and cyberwarriors will be an ongoing concern. If you train, you need to be able to retain the personnel — otherwise it is a lost investment for the organization.

The millennials are likely the next decade’s cultural-change agents, not by intent but through catalyzing change and, from a cyber perspective, it might be necessary.
According to the RAND study “Millennial Perceptions of Security,” millennials and young people are less invested in national security issues, but care about their economic security. Millennials will be the predominant workforce in the next decade, slowly replaced by the post-millennials in the late-2020s. The retention of “Generation Instagram” is likely different than earlier generations.

Should we expect that “Generation Instagram” to leave their social media-upheld island in the digital world, return to the 20th century and embrace the bureaucracy and its industrial age apparatus?

A culture shift is needed. Conventional forces consistently prepare for war, while cyber forces are continuously engaged in cyberwar. Therefore, rotating cyber officers through assignments reduces readiness and increases risks. Allowing one individual to hold a position for five or more years will significantly improve operational readiness. Exempting the cyber force from mandatory positional and geographic moves will help build and maintain a more effective future force.

Also in need of change is the dated Defense Officer Personnel Management Act, which includes an embedded assumption that one partner makes a career and the other tags along with the rotations, trying to see what they can do at the post where they land. To retain these two smart individuals as a military family we have to design rotations and positions in a way that the spouses have career opportunities that match their abilities. Millennials and the younger generation want to influence their future.

Alexander Hamilton, writing in 1775, said “There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.” A rigid bureaucracy has limited workplace appeal for millennials; to release the enthusiasm, an organization that has a higher degree of freedom is more adaptive and mission-centered as the unit commanders are empowered.

Freedom is also a prerequisite for innovation, the freedom to fail an informed and rational attempt. Millennials are likely the next decade’s cultural-change agents, not by intent but through catalyzing change, and from a cyber perspective, it might be necessary.

The rapid changing technical landscape, the increased velocity in engagements, the thick fog of uncertainty, all create a need for future cyberwarriors to stay current within an innovative, embracing, and enabling culture. At a large scale, it can be a strategic advantage compared to our potential adversaries that lack initiative, and have fear-driven cultures and repressive outlooks.

Jan Kallberg, PhD

Jan Kallberg is a research scientist at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point and an assistant professor in the department of social sciences at the United States Military Academy. The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Army Cyber Institute at West Point, the United States Military Academy or the Department of Defense.

The Fight for Spectrum

An EC-130H Compass Call aircraft is parked at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan Sept. 12, 2014. The aircraft is configured to execute worldwide information warfare tactics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez/Released)

Spectrum sounds to many ears like old-fashioned, Cold War jamming, crude brute electromagnetic overkill. In reality though, the military needs access to spectrum and more of it.

Smart defense systems need to communicate, navigate, identify, and target. It does not matter how cyber secure our platforms are if we are denied access to electromagnetic spectrum. Every modern high tech weapon system is a dud without access to spectrum. The loss of spectrum will evaporate the American military might.

Today, though, other voices are becoming stronger, desiring to commercialize military spectrum. Why does the military need an abundance of spectrum, these voices ask. It could be commercialized and create so much joy with annoying social media and stuff that does not matter beyond one of your lifetime minutes.

It is a relevant question. We as an entrepreneurial and “take action” society see the opportunity to utilize parts of the military spectrum to launch wireless services and free up spectrum space for all these apps and the Internet of Things that is just around the corner of the digital development of our society and civilization. In the eyes of the entrepreneurs and their backers, the military sits on the unutilized spectrum that could put be good use – and there could be a financial harvest of the military electromagnetic wasteland.

The military needs spectrum in the same way the football player needs green grass to plan and execute his run. If we limit the military access to necessary spectrum it will, to extend the football metaphor, be just a stack of players not moving or be able to win. Our military will not be able to operate effectively.

The electromagnetic space is no wasteland, it is a space ready to be utilized, at computational speed, and it serves as a deterrent in the same way as the ICBM in the silo. It exists, it can be utilized, and our adversaries understand. The military needs its electromagnetic space to ensure that they can operate in a degraded environment when our adversaries seek to limit the American might through electronic warfare, we should be able to fully operate and execute our operations to the extent of our abilities.

We invite people to talk about others to talk about justice, democracy, and freedom, to improve the world, but I think it is time for us to talk to our fellow man about electromagnetic spectrum because the bulwark against oppression and totalitarian regimes depends on access.

Jan Kallberg, PhD

/I originally wrote this as an opinion text for in 2015. Its relevance has increased with the shifted focus on peer and near-peer adversaries.


Current Position

Army Cyber Institute at West Point
Research Fellow /Scientist

United States Military Academy (West Point)
Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences


University of Texas at Dallas
Post Doc, Research Scientist, Cyber Security Research and Education Institute, Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, the University of Texas at Dallas

University of Texas at Dallas
PhD Public Affairs. Dissertation: “The Internet as a Proxy for Democratic Accountability and Transparency – A Comparative Test of Waldo’s Five problems Areas in Five Advanced Democracies”.

University of Texas at Dallas
M.A. Political Science – Public Management major, IR minor

Stockholm University – Juridicum Law School
J.D./LL.M. Thesis: “Reputational Risks on the Internet – a Pragmatic Study of International Cyberlaw”

Brief about Dr. Jan Kallberg

Dr. Kallberg’s research is focused mainly on cyber-supported strategic surprise, accelerated warfare, cyber defense, and how cyber impact societal stability/destabilization.

Dr. Jan Kallberg is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Research Fellow at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point. He was earlier a researcher at Cyber Security Research and Education Institute under the guidance of Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, the University of Texas at Dallas, an Assistant Professor at Arkansas Tech University, and part-time faculty at George Washington University. Dr. Kallberg is certified CISSP and CISM. He also serves as the Managing Editor for the Cyber Defense Review.

When he registered as his personal domain in 1997 there were four (4) references on the Internet (Altavista) to cyber defense. Today it is a million.  A small claim of being ahead of time.

Dr. Kallberg has been published in Joint Forces Quarterly, Strategic Studies Quarterly, Air and Space Power Journal, Military Review, IEEE IT-Professional, IEEE Security & Privacy, IEEE Technology & Society, and IEEE Access. Dr. Kallberg is on the editorial board for IEEE Access.

Read Jan Kallberg, Ph.D., latest column in Fifth Domain (Defense News).