AUGUST 31, 2020 – The Marines are looking for the best and brightest minds to lead cyberspace operators in defense of the Nation. Nineteen U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen and one Marine sergeant with the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program from The Citadel joined Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command for a summer internship at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.
The interns, hosted in two waves to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, were divided into small teams and embedded with seven of MARFORCYBER’s cyber mission force teams from 22 June to 14 August.
“This [internship] program happens because of the people and the leadership devoted to developing the future cyber mission force,” said David Luber, Executive Director, United States Cyber Command.
Midshipman 1st class Paul Jervis, from Gilbert, Arizona, said that his first cybersecurity class at USNA sparked his interest in the field, which led him to choose cybersecurity as his major. “Here at MARFORCYBER, we were able to do something worthwhile, and I enjoyed it.”
Jervis added, “I’m able to go back to the academy and tell my midshipmen friends that we were able to conduct operations that will have a lasting impact on MARFORCYBER.”
During the course of six weeks, each intern worked with cyberspace operators in support of real-world missions to build their skills and bring fresh minds to the fight.
“The interns that took part in this program are the leaders of our future cyber force, and I am very excited that we can host them every year. The insatiable curiosity of the interns this year was incredible, and the things they did will stay with MARFORCYBER for years to come.” Maj. Gen. Mathew G. Glavy, MARFORCYBER and Joint Task Force Ares commander
Lt. Col. Adrian Ybarra, Combat Mission Team 702 commander, said, “this internship is unique; not only are the interns exposed to technologies used by United States Cyber Command, but they also have the opportunity to impact real-world operations directly.”
As an example of their impact on MARFORCYBER’s mission, the group dove into a problem set, given to them by the CMT, and developed a new capability to save MARFORCYBER over 1,500 working hours every year.
“Taking part in real-world operations helped paint the bigger picture of what cyberspace operations are,” said Sgt. Ryan Skibicki, a native of Massillon, Ohio. “It motivated me to want to learn more at the academy.”
Midshipmen are required to attend summer training, which they call their summer cruises every year. They can be assigned to nuclear submarines or train aboard aircraft carriers and more.
“On other cruises, they are always saying ‘this is cool because we could shoot these missiles or we could shoot these torpedoes,’’’ said Midshipman 2nd Class Josh Ralston from Manassas, Virginia. “Being at MARFORCYBER, you are doing things that affect everyday operations.”
Interns participated in real-world operations, mission-related activities, developed future capabilities and saw firsthand how the Marine Corps persistently engages adversaries in cyberspace.
“A big difference between this and the other cruises is that on the other cruises we are shown around, but here, we are given purpose. I think that sense of purpose is a good start for us for the next two years to see that we have a purpose,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Lucy Ackerman from Seattle, Washington.
“The interns that took part in this program are the leaders of our future cyber force, and I am very excited that we can host them every year,” said Maj. Gen. Mathew G. Glavy, MARFORCYBER and Joint Task Force Ares commander. He added, “the insatiable curiosity of the interns this year was incredible, and the things they did will stay with MARFORCYBER for years to come.”
MARFORCYBER participates in the National Security Agency’s Service Academy Internship Program. Applicants are primarily juniors and seniors at Annapolis, majoring in computer science and cyber operations. Students interested in participating in the internship program should contact the Marine Corps Coordinator at the Center for Cyber Security Studies.
For more news and information about MARFORCYBER, visit www.marforcyber.marines.mil/ on the external internet, or follow us on Twitter @MARFORCYBER.
By Staff Sgt. Jacob Osborne | Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command