Cyber Defense Review

An Emotional Response to Being One of the First Cadets to Branch Cyber

By 2LT Daniel Brown | June 11, 2015

I have been asked multiple times what my emotions were the night I learned that I would be branching cyber. The night was like any other branch night at West Point with all of the First Class cadets anxiously awaiting their fate as army officers. The only difference with this branch night as opposed to the previous decades of them was the inclusion of the new branch, Cyber, to the list of possibilities. I knew going into this night that there were roughly forty to fifty cadets that were competing for Army Cyber slots. All of us had put in work through a selection process known as the Cyber Leader Development Program in which our talents, experiences and skills were assessed by a mentor. I thought my chances were decent because I had put hours into my application packet and had done everything I had been asked to do. I knew I would branch either Army Signal or Army Cyber. My grandpa had been an officer in the Army Signal Corps so I had a historical connection to Army Signal, but my hope and dream was to branch Army Cyber.

As the night progressed we were finally given our envelopes with our branch inside and the first thing every firstie did was feel the envelope to figure out what branch they had gotten. I can say with complete honesty that I had no idea what mine was. We then waved the envelopes above our heads, as per tradition, and awaited the order to open our branches. When the order came I ripped open the envelope and confirmed my hopes and dreams. I had branched Army Cyber. The moment was surreal and was shared with several of my classmates. Cadet Ames Evans, a fellow cyber cadet, told me that he was ecstatic as well and that it was one of the greatest days of his life. Cadet Braxton Musgrove informed me he was happy, but was not incredibly surprised. This lack of surprise was an emotion that was shared by several cyber cadets who were confident in their abilities. This demonstrates one aspect of branching cyber that differentiates it from the other branches. Not only do cadets have to be sufficient in all three pillars, but even more importantly, prospective cyber soldiers have to possess a certain set of skills that separates them from their peers. To branch cyber means that you are a member of a profession. The hours and time it takes to become proficient in the skills necessary to be an effective cyber officer set cyber soldiers apart. It could be compared to learning several foreign languages, proficiently; learning to think analytically as well as logically work through incredibly complicated problems that utilize everything from cryptographic algorithms to complicated arithmetic equations. I knew that night that I was joining the ranks of such soldiers, and that was what made it one of the greatest nights of my life.