Psych Tests Help Build Up Cyber Force

Military NewsBy EJ ArchuletaApr 30, 2015

The U.S. military is beginning to increase the use of “psychometric” testing to identify the most qualified individuals for the expanding cyber force. Recent research has uncovered information that various traits might be connected to strong performances in cyber training. Logic, solid math skills, attention to detail, and behavioral intuition. It is also considered that there is a correlation to cyber work with musical ability.

Army Col. Jennifer Buckner was reviewing a warrant officer package for a talented Army bandsman and noticed his exceptionally high entrance exam score and said, “now I look at band members differently.”

As a way to find people with an aptitude for cyber skills, the military has been creating and using multiple tests that go beyond resumes and interviews to identify the best candidates. The most basic test is given to recruits on track for cyber jobs on day one at their Military Entrance Processing Stations. This cyber test takes about 20 minutes to complete and predicts those who may prosper in cyber school. At this point in time, that test is not part of the general military entrance exam, known as the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

“It’s primarily used to confirm and make sure you’re the right fit for the job,” said Donald Hill, chief of testing division at the Military Entrance Processing Command in Illinois.
Other tests may be able to evaluate those who not only have an interest in the cyber force, but people who may have unknown skills for cyberwarfare. Such tests measure psychological capabilities with statistical research and questionnaires.

Different forms of these tests were used by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the intelligence community.

Army Col. Jennifer Buckner, who is commandant for the Army Cyber School at Fort Gordon said, “assessing how an individual learns skills, I think those are important assessment tools that we are looking for and experimenting with. We’re kind of trying to apply them in a layered approach. None of them are decisive in and of themselves. They are tools that help with our decision making.”

The private sector is currently working to create similar tests. The SANS Institute, which is a Maryland-based cyber security training location, has been collaborating with the Army and other corporations to develop success predicting assessments.

Partly, this is an effort to save money on training programs. “They want to make pretty darn sure they have a successful candidate coming through their program,” claimed Scott Cassity, a managing director for SANS. Highly developed tests will also be able to help with job assignments, such as determining if a soldier is more skilled in offense than defense operations.

Over the past several years, recruits have been required to take a personality test by the USAF. The Air Force uses big-data analytics alongside training school test scores, and later career information, to discover unexpected traits for cyber fields.

The goal is to assemble an operational cyber force of about 6,200 personnel by the end of 2016.

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Source: Military Times