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MACO Program Making a Difference in the Cyber Domain

Article By: MC1 Lewis Hunsaker

Since its inception in September 2012, more than 15 enlisted Sailors from the Information System Technician (IT) and Cryptologic Technician-Networks (CTN) ratings have earned Master of Science in Applied Cyber Operations (MACO) degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

The MACO program is designed to help the Navy meet the Department of Defense’s growing need for trained cyber professionals. After graduation, these Sailors are assigned to critical cyber billets through out the fleet.

Information Systems Technician 1st Class Thomas Skoff was one of the first enlisted Sailors to go through NPS’ MACO program.

“The opportunity to come to NPS and receive advanced training was an amazing opportunity,” said Skoff. “We are leading junior Sailors in the Navy’s cyber domain and this education is invaluable in the fleet.”

The four-quarter resident MACO program combines coursework in the study of cyber operations, defending U.S. systems, and exploiting vulnerabilities in adversaries, and culminates with a comprehensive capstone project.

“This program allows our students to look at a different aspect of cyber then what they are accustomed too,” said NPS Distinguished Professor Cynthia Irvine. “Cyber is a team activity.”

 The current cohort of students enrolled in NPS’ Master of Applied Cyber Operations (MACO) program is pictured in one of the university’s classrooms. The only program at NPS currently available to enlisted Sailors, MACO plays a critical role in preparing senior enlisted Sailors for leadership positions in Navy’s cyber community.

A few years ago, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations asked NPS to look at opportunities for enlisted service members to receive master’s level education in cyber operations, added NPS Associate Professor Dr. Duane Davis.

“Since we couldn’t add a class due to our Title 10 restrictions here at NPS, we use unused seats or ‘space available’ to fill the classes and educate these Sailors,” said Davis. “Currently this year, we have six enlisted Sailors enrolled in the MACO program.”

In May of 2015, Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and Commander, U.S. 10th Fleet, Vice Adm. Jan E. Tighe returned to NPS for an in-depth review the program.

“The cyber threat is constantly evolving, and so must our defense,” said Tighe. “The true value of this program is the opportunity to provide operationally-relevant education to these Sailors, who return right back to the Fleet, where they can apply what they've learned, and lead other Sailors in the fight.”

For more information about the MACO program, visit the NPS Cyber Academic Group website, or review NAVADMIN 013/16.

January 28, 2016

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