While the U.S. military refuses to make exceptions to its physical, grooming and other standards to boost the ranks of cyber operators, the British are going in the opposite direction.
The Royal Navy is waiving most of the "classic military requirements" to recruit cyber operators, Vice Adm. Jonathan Woodcock said Monday at the Navy League's annual Sea-Air-Space symposium.
"We don't expect them to wear uniforms," said Woodcock, second sea lord of the Royal Navy. "We don't require them to cut their hair. What we need is cyber operators — people who can do cyber warfare. We are refusing to be constrained by the standard requirements for all of the fleet."
Most of the new cyber operators go into the Royal Navy Reserve, he explained. His advice to his American counterparts is to not get hung up on military formalities.
"If you want the best people you've got to employ the best people," Woodcock said. "Don't employ the worst people because they fit the mold. Don't be an introverted organization. Be an extrovert."
Former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter raised the possibility of the military services using "lateral entry" to allow highly skilled civilians to join as cyber operators, even if they have purple hair, tattoos or otherwise don't meet recruiting standards.
But Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has indicated that cyber operators should be Marines first and foremost.