Air Force Cyber Ops Questions

tibreaker

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Dec 24, 2015
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So I'm a rising AS 200 and I have been doing research into potential career fields in the Air Force. Cyber operations sounds like a really cool career field but I have a couple of questions. First off, can someone explain the difference between a 17D and 17S and how you get placed into those jobs? From my understanding a 17D is more of a comms job while 17S is actually cyber warfare. Is that accurate? Also, how hard is it to get into a 17S position? And is it difficult to switch from 17D to 17S? I would appreciate any clarification. This sounds like an interesting career field but I have some reservations because I'm not sure if I would want to spend my whole career as a comms guy. Thanks again!
 

AFSPC_USAF

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So I'm a rising AS 200 and I have been doing research into potential career fields in the Air Force. Cyber operations sounds like a really cool career field but I have a couple of questions. First off, can someone explain the difference between a 17D and 17S and how you get placed into those jobs? From my understanding a 17D is more of a comms job while 17S is actually cyber warfare. Is that accurate? Also, how hard is it to get into a 17S position? And is it difficult to switch from 17D to 17S? I would appreciate any clarification. This sounds like an interesting career field but I have some reservations because I'm not sure if I would want to spend my whole career as a comms guy. Thanks again!

Hey tibreaker,

There is no hard clear cut distinguisher between the two. 17D is athe core afsc while 17S is a shred out. Most officers who are 17S's manage some type of USAF weapon system among other things. The Air Force calls a 17D a Network Operations Officer while a 17S is Cyber Warfare Officer so you are correct. As a 17D, you can do jobs like JCU, JCSE, base comm, combat comms, or cyber program manager. Overall, 17Ds and 17Ss are all comm officers. Coming out of Undergraduate Cyber Training at Keesler AFB, depending on how well you do wwill determine if AFPC and your instructors think you are up for the 17S shred out. However, lets say you didn't get a 17S position, you get a 17D billet and after spending three years at your first job, you want to transition to a 17S billet (depends on the job). That is completely possible and not irregular! If AFPC sees a 17D wants a 17S billet that a job requires, depending on AF needs, you can land that job easily. I've known plenty of people who swap back and forth.
 

tibreaker

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Sweet! Thanks for the info. Generally, how well do you have to do in UCT to qualify for a 17S billet? Can you explain what Combat Comms, JCU, and JCSE are? I've read that you can go to airborne school for these jobs. Is that true? Do you know anybody to have done that?
 
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AFSPC_USAF

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I'm sure it changed since I graduated but in my time (2014-2015) it was usually top performers, but that was only because 17S billets were scarce. Now they are more available due to Cyber Protection Teams being stood up. Jobs such as JCSE and JCU you have the opportunity to go to jump school and be certified. Some billets for JCSE have have "J" in front of the afsc (I.e. J17D3Y) which means you have to be or going to be jump qualified. I saw a USAF chief who did work at JCU and want to jump and range school so it's possible at JCU.
 

tibreaker

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One more question. I wouldn't mind the idea of doing a job like JCU, JCSE, base comm, or combat comms for the first few years and then transitioning to a 17S position. But if my ultimate goal is cyber warfare, should I just aim for a 17S from the get-go? I know its still a bit far out but I'm just trying to get the lay of the land. Thanks again!
 
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AFSPC_USAF

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One more question. I wouldn't mind the idea of doing a job like JCU, JCSE, base comm, or combat comms for the first few years and then transitioning to a 17S position. But if my ultimate goal is cyber warfare, should I just aim for a 17S from the get-go? I know its still a bit far out but I'm just trying to get the lay of the land. Thanks again!

Yes and no. I wouldn't get so caught in the AFSC names. At the end of the day you are 17D. It really depends on you unit. For example, I know a few guys who are 17Ds and stationed at the 7th Intelligence Squadron. Who is knee deep with [a great intelligence agency who we see on the news everyday] and they are very involved with cyber warfare. You should look into a program called Computer Network Operations Development Program(CNODP). Very few are selected however they are some good "cyber warriors" who come out that program and get vectored to a specialized unit.
 

tibreaker

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That's interesting. I'll have to keep that in mind. I appreciate you answering my questions. I'm even more interested in this career field now that I know how diverse and expansive it is. I'm sure things will become even more clear down the line. And who knows what new additions will be made to the 17D career field by the time I commission. Thanks!!!
 

AFSPC_USAF

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That's interesting. I'll have to keep that in mind. I appreciate you answering my questions. I'm even more interested in this career field now that I know how diverse and expansive it is. I'm sure things will become even more clear down the line. And who knows what new additions will be made to the 17D career field by the time I commission. Thanks!!!

NP! It definitely expanding. There's talks now turning the base comma in cyber protection teams and handing the base comm workload to contractors. the AF is trying to play catch up with cyber and doing great well with it.
 
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