U.S. Army Cyber Command welcomed its first Science Advisor to the Commanding General in a ceremony at Fort Belvoir, Va., Oct. 3, 2019.
Mark A. Mollenkopf will serve at the Defense Intelligence Senior Level, a senior technician position equivalent to a Senior Executive Service federal civilian employee.
In his role as ARCYBER's chief technologist, Mollenkopf will apply his expertise in electronic warfare, intelligence and information operations to advise the ARCYBER commander on all aspects of intelligence and intelligence- and cyber-related technologies and their application. He will collaborate with intelligence, cyber and science and technology organizations to generate and ensure the integrity of capabilities, concepts, policies, operational programs, studies and training that support and enable Army maneuver in the information environment.
The ceremony was actually more of a "welcome back" than a welcome. Mollenkopf served as a key member of ARCYBER and its affiliated organizations throughout his prior 31-year uniformed Army career, including service as senior technical advisor to the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade and tours as Command Chief Warrant Officer for the Army Cyber Center of Excellence, ARCYBER, and U.S. Cyber Command. He has completed a number of Army and Department of Defense leadership and technical courses, and holds several professional technical certifications. (To read his full biography, go to https://www.arcyber.army.mil/Leaders/.)
ARCYBER commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty hosted the ceremony, talked about the history and significance of senior level federal civilian positions, welcomed Mollenkopf back to Army Cyber, and applauded his extensive technical knowledge, skills and far-reaching impact on the cyber profession.
"He's a warfighter at heart," Fogarty said. "He understands how to bring together the technical resources to fight, survive and win. Because that's the business we're in. We're an army, and there's no trophy for second place."
Mollenkopf thanked several of his mentors and supporters in attendance and expressed gratitude for his appointment and the opportunity to return to ARCYBER to support and advance Army cyber capabilities.
"It feels very special and rewarding to be back on a team where everyone really cares about the mission," he said.
Mollenkopf recently took the time to answer a few questions about his career and his new position.
Can you provide a few examples from your uniformed career that illustrate how you can help develop the training and employment of forces for operations in the information environment?
Sure, here are a few examples. In the early 2000s, I led a cryptologic support team to Iraq providing national and tactical intelligence support to Task force Freedom. While there, I developed unique capabilities and processes that transformed the way tactical signals intelligence operations were conducted. These efforts significantly improved the intelligence community's ability to drive successful maneuver operations while protecting the force from enemy attack. This was a real game-changer as the operating concept was embraced and enhanced by several teams and organizations making our efforts much more effective across the spectrum of operations and many other locations across the globe.
Later, l spearheaded the modernization of signals intelligence training at the Army's Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. As a result, the Department of Defense learned how to use near-real-time intelligence combined with combat information to create positive outcomes in a complex counterinsurgency operating environment. This training was later certified and designated required training for those deploying in future operations.
Later in 2012, I led the development and management of U.S. Cyber Command's first training and certification exercises designed to ensure that a common level of operational proficiency could be achieved across the burgeoning Cyber Mission Force teams. This was much trickier, as it required team-building across multiple service components and agencies. It ended up being very successful, and several teams were trained to a well-defined standard thanks to the collaborative effort of many subject-matter experts and senior leaders.
How do you envision continuing to contribute to Army Cyber?
As Army Cyber Command's Science Advisor and lead technologist, I'll be focused on working closely with intelligence, cyber and science and technology organizations to generate capabilities, policy and training that solves problems, builds teams and gives us advantage over our adversaries. These efforts will include collaboration with academia and industry using modern venues to facilitate problem-solving and teaming. I'll be working with the distributed Army Cyber team to reduce unnecessary complexity while enabling as much organizational agility as possible.
What are the most pressing challenges in cyberspace?
I think the biggest challenges today and likely for the foreseeable future are centered around identity management and data management. It's really difficult to build robust authentication systems that are not susceptible to exploitation when credentials are stolen or easily generated from known information. Likewise, collecting, organizing and protecting data is an enormously difficult task as organizations grow. Most organizations, both DoD and in industry, have realized that controlling access to data is the single most important mechanism to protect their business processes from compromise while ensuring intellectual property is safe. I'll work to enable the Army and its partners to make sense of the vast amount of data it possesses while working to reduce systemic complexity that undermines security.
How will you look to integrate other players and solutions such as academia, industry, federal and state agencies?
I'm hoping to address this in two primary ways. First, we'll build and sustain collaboration opportunities that enable innovative approaches to solving problems. Second, we'll initiate a focused effort that enables us to liberally share as much source code and lessons learned as policy allows to help drive innovation and build teams across the community. We've got to harness the power of small teams, as it's the foundation of every good, problem-solving organization. When we build teams and forums that solve hard problems and produce useful outcomes, the team members go home each night knowing that they've contributed to the greater good of the Army and the nation. That's what we want for our people, so that's what we are going to do.
How critical is good intelligence to operating in cyberspace? What direction can the Army take to "up its game" in cyber-focused intelligence?
Good intelligence is central to successfully operating in any military mission area, but becomes foundational when operating in the cyberspace domain due to the logical nature of its existence. All activity in cyberspace is sensed using monitors and probes, thus correlating activity across a large architecture like the Army's is challenging. The Army's intelligence apparatus is already pretty good at delivering critical nuggets that drive operations. As a result, Army intel has enabled quite a few mission successes across the continuum of our cyber missions. I think the most effective way forward would be to more tightly correlate blue network operations data with enriched intelligence and commercial threat information. This would generate the ability to more rapidly respond to analyst questions and help our defenders more rapidly close in on threats to our network architecture. Increasing levels of automation and integration demand increased speed and agility in the responsiveness of our intelligence apparatus. This will be the critical component that drives future operational success in a hyper-integrated architecture operating at network speed.
What do you see as the greatest challenges to keeping up with the science of cyber and staying on the tactical edge ahead of our adversaries?
I view the science of cyber as the key means to enable advancement in sustainable ways across all our mission areas, because we can uniquely leverage data, math and the scientific method with great success in this domain. We can empirically prove security, best practices and techniques while building advanced capabilities that give us significant advantage over our adversaries spanning all echelons of operation. I think that one of the biggest challenges that we can address is managing the problem of escalating complexity in our tactical systems to better enable successful operations. The skyrocketing complexity of cyber protocols and capabilities directly undermines our ability to sustain consistent, rapid progress in deploying and operating our systems. To be successful we'll need to leverage the science of cyber to manage complexity in the design of our systems so subsequent integration and employment can occur with the speed and agility that enables our people to achieve mission success.
What career advice would you give up-and-coming cyber professionals about keeping their knowledge, skills and abilities current and sharp?
I think there are a few key things that make everyone a better cyber professional. First, learn to code. This is hands-down, the most important attribute of cyber professionals of all ages. Coding is the next evolution in semantic exchange with computers and will become the underlying competency for creating and controlling machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities. Ceding this ability to others puts cyber professionals at extreme risk, because they are depending on others to understand and convey fundamental concepts that underpin nearly every system and workflow within an organization. There are lightweight programming languages that can provide the needed insight without a significant commitment of time; not everyone needs to be a low-level, hardcore coder. Second, work on developing good strategic vision. Good technical leaders learn to see true opportunity and avoid the pitfalls of seemingly never-ending good ideas. It requires the development of critical thinking skills to see the big picture and how to lead small teams to achieve organizational goals within that holistic view. Finally, be courageous in all that we do -- every day. Courage is the great equalizer of talent, success and character, and since we all have gaps in our education, experiences and training, learning to be courageous all the time gives one a significant advantage in solving problems and leading positive change.
ABOUT US: United States Army Cyber Command integrates and conducts full-spectrum cyberspace operations, electronic warfare, and information operations, ensuring freedom of action for friendly forces in and through the cyber domain and the information environment, while denying the same to our adversaries.
Interested in the challenge of joining the Army Cyber team? Check out military and civilian cyber career and employment opportunities by clicking on the "Careers" tab at www.arcyber.army.mil