Posted on Sep 16, 2018
Samael Morningstar
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My main motivation for writing this post is to learn the differences between cyber operations and military intelligence. What are their specific duties? How are they different from each other? Which requires a higher security clearance? Could one be favored over the other based on obvious superiority? Does one offer more promotion opportunity than the other? What would my daily tasks look like in each?

I ask these questions because I intended to commission into the Army as a Military Intelligence Officer. Then, I learned of the Direct Commission program for Cyber Operations. While commissioning in with a 24-month head start is surely seducing, I'm not going to base my career choice off of that alone. So, I'd like to know the differences between the two, to find out if I'd actually like Cyber Ops over Military Intel.
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LTC Jason Mackay
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Samael Morningstar , two vastly different skill sets.

Cyber Summary: https://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/browse-career-and-job-categories/computers-and-technology/cyber-operations-officer.html

MI Summary: https://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/browse-career-and-job-categories/intelligence-and-combat-support/military-intelligence-officer.html

MI officers help the commander visualize the battlefield and interpret what the enemy is doing, what they want to do, what they are likely to do. This really comes in to play with the Military Decision Making Process which drives operations through a process called Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield.

Cyber is focused on offensive and defense operations in the cyber domain.

I guess the commonality between the two is a narrow band in electronic warfare...it's a narrow sliver of overlap in MHO.
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Samael Morningstar
Samael Morningstar
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So would it be appropriate to describe MI as essential support, and Cyber as a direct force? After reading the summary on the website, it says that Cyber is "the only branch designed to directly engage threats within the cyberspace domain." This description seems like something I'd be more interested in doing, versus being "responsible for all collected intelligence during Army missions. (Military Intelligence)" I'm glad that I came here today to receive clarification.
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LTC Jason Mackay
LTC Jason Mackay
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Samael Morningstar - if you expect me to respond, please tag me in the comment.

The MI description is a little light. MI does engage in EW. It's not notional. Can't get into means, methods, and sources but it is "direct". The S2/G2 staff is busy running a collection and exploitation process. With the S3/G3 Operations staff they work to develop the Commander's Critical Information Requirements (CCIR) and the collection plan which drives Commander's decision making, nominally through the Decision Support Matrix. There are triggers in that set up the commander To when and if to decide. It's all linked to branch plans and contingency plans or when to abandon a plan. It's high stakes, with Joes on the pointy end.

MI officers start as Platoon leaders and other Company grade positions, just like everyone's else. They get chewed over maintenance and inventories. Their staff functionality is unique though.

notnsure what 'essential support' and 'direct force' mean. There are combat arms (neither are combat arms), maneuver support, and sustainment... formerly combat arms, combat support, and combat service support. Not sure which has been assigned to Cyber.

I have no dog in the fight, but I owe it to the great S2s and MI Officers I have known to try and do them justice here. Other options later on, as you become a field grade are to pursue a functional area like Strategic Intelligence and Space Operations.
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Maj Kevin "Mac" McLaughlin
Maj Kevin "Mac" McLaughlin
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There is also an emerging path for intelligence in cyber.
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LTC Jason Mackay
LTC Jason Mackay
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Maj Kevin "Mac" McLaughlin - at a minimum, their organizations need S2s.
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MSG Officer Candidate
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They are radically different careers. Both require a Top Secret clearance level, but they aren’t in related fields.
Military Intelligence uses trend analysis, signals, image, and human sources to develop a picture of what the enemy is doing, likely to do, and/or disposition of their forces. They brief commands and help with IPB.
Cyber conducts offensive and defensive network operations, preventing enemy incursion into friendly networks or fining access to enemy networks. The Army is newer to having a cyber branch, the Air Force has been doing it a little longer as a distinct branch, but both still are defining where Cyber starts/ends when related to signal.
The concept of intelligence is inherantly support of maneuver forces, cyber is considered a new maneuver realm of warfare.
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Samael Morningstar
Samael Morningstar
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Cyber Operations sounds more like what I would be interested in. It seems to be a more direct approach. Would a bachelor's in computer science be desirable enough for this field, or should I pursue something like Information Systems? I'm only 17 so I have time to be flexible.
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MSG Officer Candidate
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CS is a desirable base, along with focus on cyber security, certifications like Net+ and Security+ are industry standards, Security+ is a gateway course in Navy and AF cyber (meaning you have to pass it to keep going), I haven’t heard if it’s important in Army cyber yet or not (I left the Army 6 months ago for an AF Cyber commission, so cyber is the only thing I know more about from an AF context rather than an Army one).
But short answer is, yes, CS is great as a degree base, get some security focused courses as part of it, and you’ll be great.
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SPC Signals Intelligence Analyst
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Military Intelligence is split into several different Moss's and this MOS's are split into different responsibilities and roles. Cyber Operations from my understanding is just one MOS (17C) and split into different responsibilities. They both have TS clearences and their roles can be found on the army website. I'm bias but I think MI is better because of the different options in jobs and the opportunities in duty stations, units and schooling. Good luck.
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SPC Signals Intelligence Analyst
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Sorry for the spelling errors.
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Samael Morningstar
Samael Morningstar
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I'm beginning to feel like Cyber Ops is what I would be better at. If it comes down to the issue of duty stations/units, I would continue to pursue MI.
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SPC Signals Intelligence Analyst
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Yeah it comes to personal preference really. I'm in MI and I love it so far. I have buddies in Cyber Ops but they have never really spoken about it but I will reach out to them and get back to you.
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