The Military Cyber Professionals Association (MCPA) is the byproduct of graduate research into innovation at the Naval Postgraduate School in California, funded by the US Army Cyber Command. After beginning operations in 2013, the Association spread by word of mouth and press coverage of events. Some of that media coverage can be seen below. The thesis describing the conceptual foundations of the MCPA and its initial founding can be read here and a video summarizing it can be viewed below.
As the MCPA has grown to thousands of members, it has embraced an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit in approaching how it pursues its mission and vision. We are always open to new ideas and opportunities as they arise. The MCPA has served as a safe and trusted platform for military cyber professionals to experiment with various initiatives from organizing regional and online cyber competitions, to awarding STEM scholarships in their local communities, to supporting veterans. Whether the initiative is on going or for a limited duration of time, each effort has supported our mission and vision. The below highlights some of those initiatives.
Hack the Arch
The MCPA St. Louis Chapter developed their own cyber capture the flag (CTF) competition engine and annual event called "Hack the Arch" (HTA). This event awarded scholarships and grew to draw in support from their region's tech, defense, and academic sectors. As shown on the flyer below, the initial HTA in 2015 had a fun theme inspired by the recent Avengers films. The theme (particularly attractive to younger members of the military cyber community) was fitting since the comic book character Thor was a member of the Avengers and Thor adorns the MCPA's medal. The following year, "AvengerCon" began as a popular training event in the military cyber community. The HTA engine has since been made open source and free for public use.
STEM Education App
MCPA members worked with a team from California State University to develop an app to gamify binary-hex conversion skills, which is useful for military cyber professionals. This was part of the school's innovation center competition to engage with local organizations. This video is the final presentation by the app development team.
The MCPA has served as the hub for military cyber professionals within the larger expositions of older partnered military organizations including the Navy League, Air Force Association (AFA), and Association of the US Army (AUSA). At the large AUSA expo, the MCPA established the Cyber Pavilion and developed it into a unique environment including a speaker's corner and exhibitors from across the community, including US Cyber Command, National Defense University's College of Information and Cyberspace, the US Military Academy's Army Cyber Institute, and the Army Reserve Cyber Operations Group.
Hammer of Thor
Inspired by the MCPA's Order of Thor medal, some military units have developed a tradition of awarding the "Hammer of Thor" to cyber teams that have achieved an important milestone like FOC (full operational capability) status.
US Cyberspace Solarium Commission
The MCPA was proud to support this whole-of-nation strategic effort by leading a networking reception at the conclusion of the culminating event and more. More info about this historic effort can be found here.
Joint Cyber Challenge
The Joint Cyber Challenge (JCC) was a DoD wide cyber capture the flag (CTF) competition. In 2015, a globally distributed MCPA team competed in the event and in 2016 the MCPA ran the event. Like many successful MCPA endeavors, the team that ran this event was composed of relatively junior active duty military officers. An article highlighting the MCPA team in 2015 was the first article we published in our magazine.
Legislative Affairs Committee
Years ago, the MCPA developed a Legislative Affairs Committee (LAC) to help build the social network feedback loops between those who are doing the mission and those who are in a position to provide strategic support with resources, authorities, and top cover. The LAC successfully helped to highlight cyber issues in the legislative community and connect the right people with each other. The effort has evolved over the years, now under the leadership of Rear Admiral (Ret) Mark Montgomery of the MCPA Board of Advisors. In recognition of the MCPA's enduring work to educate those in the legislative process, Congressman Langevin provided words of encouragement as part of the opening ceremonies of our first national convention (seen below).