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Upskilling & Reskilling SOF Operators

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

While reading an article titled "Even Generals Must Learn New Skills in Tech-Dominated Special Operations Future" I quickly gravitated my thoughts as a current and soon to-be former Marine Special Operator. With almost 17 years of special operations experience, for most of my military career, I have been behind a gun. However, within the past 5 years, I have engaged further more into understanding the technology world and how it relates to the type of work I have been performing throughout my career.

The article discusses the future for operators like myself, to focus less on what type of weapon they will be carrying throughout their deployments, yet the focus will be on how operators can retrieve and pull data rapidly from anywhere around the globe.

I remember when I first joined the military as a young Recon Marine. OIF was still hot, and the military was looking for guys that could move, shoot, and communicate. All you needed was a hard body and strong mind and the military would teach you the rest. As the war on terrorism went on, so did my military education. Many years later, I was sent to multiple courses such as jump school, combat diver course, and scout sniper school. As we eliminated targets, we would build operational procedures through lessons we learned during our deployments. Little did we know our oppositions were also was learning from their mistakes.

Today more than ever, the cyber environment has become the tip of the spear for special operations. For the last 20 years, we have been fighting and taking out our country's enemies. This is a great way to detour state side terrorism acts, however it is also a double edged-sword. As we neutralize termism, those that survive learn from their colleagues mistakes. Enemy operation procedures evolve and their plans become more complex. We can see this in their recruitment efforts. Formerly, recruitment was a face-to-face interaction and now it is performed through the internet and can be accessed around the world. This heightens their anonymity and widens their influence.

After almost two decades of military operations in the special forces community, I have seen the impact on technology. It has positively affected operations and the personnel conducting the operations. The individuals that embrace and evolve with technology, are the ones picked to do the best missions. The individuals that refuse change go extinct like the dinosaurs they are.

This is how I went from a Recon/Sniper background to learning and understanding intelligence acquisition. This eventually led me to studying cyber operations and receiving CompTIA certifications. My best advice for young professionals that are looking to join the military is to strengthen your mind the same way you strengthen your body. This is because most people that join the military only focus on the physical attributes, opposed to the upcoming complicated technology that is the future of the military.

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Christopher McCormick

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