REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - The head of communications, intelligence, security and cyber experts at the Army Materiel Command started his career in the communications and cyber realm in 1980 as an electrical engineer, working with computers, satellite and telecommunications systems.

"It was a nicer world back then," said Daniel Q. Bradford, chief information officer and the director for communications, security and intelligence at Army Materiel Command. "We were just focused on functionality - making things work. We really didn't have cyber security in early Army networks."

Midway into his career, the cyber world changed. In February 1998, U.S. government and military systems were attacked by young hackers who accessed computers belonging to DOD, NASA and federally funded research sites. This incident pushed the Army and DOD down a deliberate cyber path. Bradford said his work changed from operating and communicating in a trusted world to one of ensuring and protecting the mission in cyberspace.

"It made you aware of just how important and critical cyber security and cyber operations were going to be to mission assurance," Bradford said.

He worked in a world where the offensive cyber capabilities of adversaries and hackers quickly matured - a world where hackers quietly market system vulnerabilities and exploits, selling their knowledge to the highest bidder. As a result, Bradford's background in command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems, networking and engineering evolved over the years.

Bradford is passionate about enterprise communications systems, operations and defending the Army in cyberspace. That passion has carried through four years of active duty as an Army officer, two years in the Army Reserve, more than 38 years as an Army Civilian and almost 12 years as a senior executive.

It was that cumulative experience and leadership as deputy to the commanding general and senior technical director of U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command that led him to receive a Presidential Rank Award as a Distinguished Executive on Dec. 13, 2018.

He was formally notified by Lisha Adams, executive deputy to the commanding general for Army Materiel Command.

"It was quite a surprise and extremely humbling to be honored with this award," he said. "You simply can't achieve this recognition without the trust, confidence, hard work and support of the employees that helped you to be successful."

He was nominated by retired Maj. Gen. John W. Baker, former commanding general of NETCOM, for his work operating, managing and defending the Army's enterprise network globally. Bradford exercised oversight and technical control for a command of 17,000 personnel spread around the world in four theaters of operation.

During his time at NETCOM, he led the operational engineering and design activities in the command. His team infused the latest technology into the Army enterprise network and supported defensive cyber and network operations. As the senior civilian in the command, he was also responsible for civilian well-being, training, career and mission-related activities.

Bradford said leadership values he learned throughout his career - especially from the 10 general officers he has had the privilege and honor of working for - drive his work. He believes in humility and taking care of people.

"You have to understand what drives and motivates people," he said. "If you can understand that, then you can accomplish any mission. That's how you lead and manage."

Bradford believes leaders should never sacrifice their ethics and integrity. For him, being in the senior executive service is all about collaborating, negotiating, influencing and shaping others. As general officers throughout his career passed on advice and experience to him, Bradford pays it forward by mentoring others.

"I enjoy mentoring and talking with people, helping them to achieve their personal and career goals based on what I've learned over my career," he said. "If I can help people get to where they want to go and achieve their aspirations and goals, that's fantastic."

From starting his career as a lieutenant and working his way up to a senior executive, Bradford said the mission and people-oriented nature of the Army is what kept him in government service.

"It is a privilege and honor to work for the government," he said. "You can make a huge difference for our Army and nation."