What is a military cyber professional?

We have a very broad and purposely imprecise understanding of what a cyber professional is because the theories about cyberspace as a domain of activity are still evolving. As those theories evolve, we will see changes in the career specialty structure. That being said, some specialties are more clearly cyber-related than others. A few examples of cyber-heavy jobs include the Cyber Systems Operations Specialists (Air Force), the Cryptographic Network Warfare Specialists (Army), many Information Dominance Corps Officers (Navy), and even Marine Field Artillery Officers that are working targeting in cyber organizations. The US Army reecently established a "Cyber Branch" alongside the Infantry, Military Police and other such fields. Our nascent profession is Joint (Army, Navy, etc), interdisciplinary (SIGINTers, Warfighters, linguists, etc.), across all ranks (Officer, Warrant, Enlisted), and from a diverse background (Active Duty Servicemembers, Reserves, National Guard, DoD Civilians, Defense Contractors, Academics, and concerned citizens). Although the MCPA has a broader understanding of the current and future military cyber profession than some other organizations, you can find a helpful general overview of the area here.

What's the value of being a member of the MCPA?

The value of MCPA membership increases with each new teammate. Some benefits are explicit, such as eligibility for our recognition program. Some benefits, such as access to exclusive networking venues, may seem more intrinsic but are actually incredibly powerful. Online member-only resources include access to social networking venues (like our group on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+), a growing number of special interest groups, and an expanding list of collaborative/crowdsourced professional development resources on our intranet. Off line, members connect at regular professional development, recognition, STEM outreach, and social events organized by a local chapter. Leadership opportunities within the MCPA are plentiful, increase exposure, and open doors. Membership identifies you as a professional and contributor to this area, which remains a national security priority. Due to the evolving nature of this relatively new area and the presence of our members at all echelons of the government, membership in the MCPA gives you a real voice in the development of policies that directly affect you and your world. All this for the low price of free (if eligible). How much better does it get?

What's the value of being a sponsor or partner of the MCPA?

Sponsors rest assured that the dollars (and bitcoins) given to the MCPA directly enable us to accomplish our mission of developing the American military cyber profession and investing in our nation's future through STEM outreach. For example, sponsor funding keeps membership free for those that serve (and have served) our nation and enables us to recognize those that devote their time in STEM outreach activities in their local communities. Business wise, sponsors are making a public statement about their commitment to a positive movement towards sustainable economic growth, innovation, education, and national security. Such a statement supports the values and marketing/branding efforts of many businesses, organization, and individuals. In addition to gaining access to the same benefits and events that MCPA members enjoy, sponsors are also provided additional exposure to those that serve in tailored activities depending on availability and interest. Sponsors regularly make connections with MCPA members, some of whom become business partners, friends, and potential recruits/employees. For organizations seeking talent with recent government experience in the cyber arena, being involved with the MCPA offers access to many personnel that are / will be / have recently transitioned out of government service.

What's different about your organization compared to others?

There are four main differences between the MCPA and many other organizations also interested in military cyber affairs.

First, the most distingushing feature of our organization is our mission. An organization's mission drives its strategy and activities, as well as how it conducts them. Ours is a mission of education. We encourage you to digest the mission statement of other organizations before you compare us to them.

Second, since we have such a powerful mission and vision, we have been able to produce a distinct business model that relies on the support and volunteerism of many patriotic Americans. While the traditional model employed by many other organizations relies on fees paid by masses of servicemembers, we do not ask our nation's heros to sacrifice any more than they already have/are/will. We provide for (not take away from) our service members. This financial flexibility allows us to stay true to our mission and vision (such as a focus on the US), where many other organizations have gone completely international and reaped the financial benefits of such a wider pool of membership. See below for why we focus on the US. 

Third, we are the only military professional association with cyber at its core. Other associations have a different primary focus (like information operations, electronics, electronic warfare, communications, intelligence, etc.) and cyber as a secondary focus. In accordance with our vision, we believe cyber in the DoD is so important that it deserves its own association of professionals dedicated to its development and is such an urgent priority that it can no longer afford to be a secondary concern.

Forth, since this field lacks the maturity and history that many others do, we are more forward-looking than many other organizations. We are here to shape the future, not to let it pass us by. While some organizations are content with the status quo, we believe much more innovation is required to get our nation where it needs to be.

Why do you limit your focus to the development of the American Military Cyber Profession? Why leave out international partners?

We are scoped to the United States for two main reasons.

First, it is due to the sensitivity associated with cyber work today, much of which is classified and not for foreign audiences.

Second, we believe that the US has lots of work ahead of it to develop the domain of cyberspace and we need to focus on our own situation first.

Generally speaking, the US does go to war as a member of an international coalition and there is value in fostering such international professional networks, which is why we are happy to offer membership to our foreign allies. Please note that free membership only applies to employees of the United States government and its state governments (for example, Connecticut National Guard, California State Trooper, etc.).   

Why do you ask me for a Google account on the membership application form?

We are leveraging the security, cost, and usability of a "Google Apps" infrastructure. Due to this infrastructure, in order to access the MCPA members-only intranet and other member-only features, you need to use a gmail or non-gmail Google-linked account. You can forward your gmail to another account, if you wish. If we did not go with a Google secured credentialing system, each of our users would be burdened with yet another username and password to keep track of. You may enter a non-Google linked account in this field of the membership application form with the understanding that you will be missing out on many member-only benefits, like access to the MCPA Intranet. Regardless of the infrastructure, always apply good personal security practices to keep any of your credentials private (like taking special care if using an unsecured wifi hotspot).

Why can't I access the Intranet, Connect, Teams, ProDev tabs, event calendars or other member-resources on the site?

If you know you're a verified MCPA member, just click the "sign in" button at the bottom of the page. If that doesn't work when you click on one of these member-only tabs and you encounter a log-in screen for those with @milcyber.org accounts, you will also see an option to log-in with a non-milcyber.org account (at the bottom left of the screen). Another method to ensure a smooth transition into these member-only areas is to log in to your account before accessing such areas. If these options still do not work, it is possible that your membership application has not yet been approved, or you do not have access to the specific resource. Please contact your local MCPA leadership or the support team to remedy this if it has been longer than a week since applying.

How do you secure my personal information?

The data collected as part of the application process is maintained behind the Google infrastructure that we leverage. The MCPA limits access to your information to only those that have a need to know and appropriate background in managing sensitive information. We maintain a general policy of least privilege and access.

I'm a coach for high school and college cyber defense teams. How can students participate in the MCPA?

If eligible for free membership (like those student that are also employees of the government, like cadets at the United States Military Academy), they are welcomed to join as full members. If eligible for membership, but do not have any status with the government, they are welcomed to apply for full membership as well, but their membership fee needs to be paid before their application is approved. Regardless, participation in MCPA supported activities (including receipt of MCPA recognition items) does NOT require membership (unless specifically stated).

I'm a parent of a high schooler that would like to participate in a STEM activity that MCPA supports. Are you going to recruit my child in to the military? What is your STEM outreach program?

No, we are not recruiters and are not going to recruit your child into the military. Our intent is to support young Americans interested in STEM, no matter what sector or field they decide to pursue. Our STEM outreach program supports our members that focus their volunteering on K-12 STEM activities in their local communities. STEM activities might be teaching an age-appropriate class on cyber security to 5th graders, or coaching a local "hackathon" group of high schoolers. We ensure these volunteers are recognized for their part in investing in the future of our nation.

Why do you focus on STEM education? Why not include the Arts (STEAM)?

America's lack of home-grown STEM talent is a well-documented issue of grand-strategic consequence. No serious commentators disagree with the value of the Arts, but there are already plenty of other organizations that focus on supporting the Arts and the US has an abundance of talent in this field. As a way of correcting this imbalance before its effects result in continued degradation of American security and economic well-being, the MCPA is specifically focused on STEM education for younger students. Being that most of our members are patriots that want to ensure the well-being of the nation, this focused effort is a great fit.

Why is your medal called the Order of Thor and when can I wear it?

Military associations typically have medals that are symbolically named after some inspirational character from history, mythology, or sacred texts. Some examples include the Order of Mercury from the Signal Corps Regimental Association and the Order of the Archangel from the Military Strategists Association. We chose the mythological character Thor because he is a warrior that operates in and through the clouds (the cloud being a widely recognized symbol of cyberspace). He also wields a hammer that has the power to build and the power to destroy. We found the symbology more appealing than other options. Such awards are authorized for wear in appropriate uniform (or civilian attire for civilians) at association events in accordance with each Service's regulations. For example, uniformed members of the Army will find guidance in AR 670-1 (Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia), section 22-12, paragraph d. The medal shall be worn around the neck. Modification of the ribbon length is authorized to allow for best and most professional appearance.

I see you are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. What's that mean and what's your business model?

Since we have a clearly educational mission, we are certified by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which means that people/organizations can make donations to us that are taxWe manage overhead costs in pursuit of our mission and vision. We have numerous sources of revenue. We do not take membership fees from servicemembers (and others that currently qualify for free membership). We do not conduct traditional fundraisers that put our servicemembers to work washing cars or picking up trash. Our servicemembers sacrifice enough already and are highly educated. Thankfully, there are enough patriotic Americans that realize the urgency and need to invest in the MCPA as a long term solution to the challenge of securing this nation's security and prosperity.

Does the binary in your logo mean something or is it just decoration?

We do not like to miss opportunities to encode messages. The binary in the logo (version2) and the binary in the Order of Thor medal do translate to something. However, the binary swirling around the blue on our welcome page is simply decoration. Can you figure out what these messages are?

Why is my local chapter of the MCPA associated with another organization?

Chapters without IRS-approved non-profit status may seek fiscal sponsorship by an existing 501(c)(3) non-profit entity, in which the chapter is considered a program of the fiscal sponsor. Such an arrangement is totally legal, however the trade-offs may not be in the best interest of the local chapter or the MCPA, so must be considered on a case by case basis and approved by MCPA national leadership. In any case, MCPA (national) membership is a prerequisite of membership to any chapter no matter what organization serves as fiscal sponsor. More so, no visiting/non-local MCPA members shall be turned away from attending local MCPA chapter events, provided there is sufficient room.

I'm a concerned citizen or business and want to support the MCPA. How can I help?

Thanks for your interest! At this point in our endeavor, we would most appreciate your monetary support. We have established a variety of options for you to provide this type of support. Please find a summary of costs and benefits of sponsorship here. Payment for MCPA national sponsors (bronze, silver, etc) can be made from that page. If interested in sponsoring or co-sponsoring a specific project or initiative (such as our magazine or veteran support), you may do so on top of your general sponsorship or independently from general sponsorship. In other words, we also welcome sponsorship of MCPA projects by those with no other ties to the MCPA. If you're sponsoring a project in addition to being a general sponsor, your benefits are cumulative. Contact us if interested in sponsoring a specific project. If you simply want to make a contribution for any amount without any sponsorship benefits, we accept credit card and bitcoin.

What's the difference between your magazine and journal?

Cyber (the Magazine of the MCPA) and Military Cyber Affairs  or MCA (the Journal of the MCPA) are different in a number of ways. Cyber considers a much wider range of submissions for publication than MCA. The pieces featured in Cyber can be long commentaries or stories about events of interest to the military cyber community as short as a few paragraphs accompanied by attention-grabbing color photos. MCA, on the other hand, is a scholarly journal with strict standards of rigor outlined in their submission instructions hereMCA does not include advertisements but Cyber does. Both, however, are programs designed to support the MCPA educational mission and are made free to the public. The Cyber uses the same copyright policies as MCA.

What's the difference between your journal and other journals?

Our journal, Military Cyber Affairs (MCA), is distinct among other military cyber related scholarly journals as the only independent journal focused on military cyber affairs. This independence, following the fine tradition of institutions like the U.S. Naval Institute, means that we have more flexibility to publish content since we are bound to the mission and policies of our publisher (the non-profit Military Cyber Professionals Association) and not that of the U.S. government. For example, our partners at the Army Cyber Institute (ACI) at the U.S. Military Academy also publish a high quality journal focused on this field.