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Airmen selected to participate in new cyberspace direct appointment program

Col. Eric Delange, 688th Cyberspace Wing Commander (left), and Chief Master Sgt. Emilio Avila, 688th CW command chief (right), congratulate Master Sgt. Anthony Bustamante, 92nd Cyberspace Operations Squadron flight chief, on being selected as one of the first Airmen to undergo direct appointment into the Air Force cyberspace officer corps. Direct appointment for cyberspace officers was authorized under the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The candidates’ experience will be used to develop policies and procedures for future applicants. (Courtesy photo)

Col. Eric Delange, 688th Cyberspace Wing commander (left), and Chief Master Sgt. Emilio Avila, 688th CW command chief (right), congratulate Master Sgt. Anthony Bustamante, 92nd Cyberspace Operations Squadron flight chief, on being selected as one of the first Airmen to undergo direct appointment into the Air Force cyberspace officer corps. Direct appointment for cyberspace officers was authorized under the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The candidates’ experience will be used to develop policies and procedures for future applicants. (Courtesy photo)

Lt. Col. Christopher Robinson, 91st Cyberspace Operations Squadron commander, hands second lieutenant ranks to Master Sgt. Micheal Locke, 91st COS operations superintendent, to celebrate his selection as a candidate for the newly authorized cyber direct appointment program. Upon successful completion of the program, Locke will commission as a second lieutenant. (Courtesy photo)

Lt. Col. Christopher Robinson, 91st Cyberspace Operations Squadron commander, hands second lieutenant ranks to Master Sgt. Micheal Locke, 91st COS operations superintendent, to celebrate his selection as a candidate for the newly authorized cyber direct appointment program. Upon successful completion of the program, Locke will commission as a second lieutenant. (Courtesy photo)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- The Air Force recently selected the first two candidates for a newly created cyberspace officer direct appointment pilot program, authorized by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

Master Sgts. Anthony Bustamante, 92nd Cyberspace Operations Squadron flight chief, and Micheal Locke, 91st Cyberspace Operations Squadron superintendent, will soon attend officer training school and return to the cyberspace career field as cyberspace operations lieutenants.

“These two candidates exhibit adversarial thinking and a high degree of technical aptitude,” said Maj. Gen. Patrick Higby, Office of Information Dominance, Cyberspace Strategy and Policy director, and Office of the Secretary of the Air Force chief information officer. “(They’re) a perfect fit for defensive and offensive cyberspace operations mission sets, and leading our cyber teams into the future.”

The direct appointing process is already established in other career fields, such as chaplains, attorneys and physicians, as a method of acquiring individuals in possession of advanced skills and degrees. The decision to choose Bustamante and Locke was made based on their advanced degrees, certifications, experience, job performance and demonstrated leadership potential. Their selection was granted via waiver by the secretary of the Air Force.

“(These two candidates are) a shining example of the caliber of enlisted Airmen we have among our ranks,” said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Agard, cyberspace career field manager. “Their trek through this process will help lay the foundation for the future of this initiative.”

If the pilot program is successful, it will be used to recruit additional personnel with advanced cyberspace education and skills directly into the Air Force cyberspace officer corps.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Locke regarding the new initiative. “It shows how committed the Air Force is to recruiting cyberspace professionals.”

Locke and Bustamante will retain their master sergeant rank until they complete OTS. Upon graduation, and based on their advanced education and experience, Bustamante will assume the rank of first lieutenant with two years of constructive service credit, while Locke will be commissioned as a second lieutenant with one year’s credit.

“I am extremely grateful and I look forward to paving the path for future cyberspace warriors to take advantage of this opportunity,” Bustamante said.