Gray Call: A New Tradition for our Community

By Dr. Matt Morris

May 14, 2024

Over 150 years ago, orange was established as the primary color associated with the Signal Corps and has since been weaved into the broader cultural fabric of those in the communications and IT management fields well beyond the US Army [1]. Indications of that identity are commonplace with orange adorning various logos, themes, and events of aligned organizations including the Signal Corps Regimental Association (SCRA) and Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA). The Orange Call, a regular social gathering of those in that community, is an excellent example of their pride in their identity [2,3]. 

Ten years ago, the Cyber Corps was established as a branch of the US Army through General Order No. 2014-63 and gray became the dominant branch color [4,5]. Accordingly, inspired by the esprit de corps long exercised by the Signal Corps and other communities, the Military Cyber Professionals Association (MCPA) has established the Gray Call for the military cyber community. As a Cyber Warfare Officer (17A) of the Army Cyber Corps and President of the MCPA National Capital Regional (NCR) Chapter, I am proud to have hosted the chapter’s inaugural Gray Call on 2 May 2024 at the Microsoft Garage in Reston [6].

Colonel Richard Leach (right) discusses HammerCon Trolls at the inaugural NCR Gray CallImage: MCPA

The MCPA’s thoroughly joint approach was on full display at the event. Current and former military cyber professionals from across the joint force were in abundance including the MCPA National President and Navy Veteran, Chris Cleary [7]. Dr. Joe Billingsley, the MCPA Founder and Army Veteran currently serving at the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) in the White House, was also there to partake in the festivities.

Former and current Cyber Warfare Officers at the inaugural NCR Gray CallImage: MCPA

In addition to socializing over food and drink, we heard a walkthrough of the HammerCon 2024 badges by their creator, Conrad Franke [8]. Conrad, also a Cyber Warfare Officer, was recognized with the Order of Thor medal by President Cleary. Establishing the Order of Thor (with gray neck ribbon) for members of the military cyber community was, in part, inspired by the SCRA’s Order of Mercury (with orange neck ribbon) for Signaleers and the broader communications community.

Accompanied by wife, First Lieutenant Frank (left) recognized with Order of Thor by President Cleary (center)Image: MCPA

Emerging at a MCPA national meeting earlier this year, the Gray Call was a concept that immediately resonated with me and other military cyber professionals. Some of my fellow Cyber Warfare Officers and MCPA Chapter Presidents, such as Dr. Tim Schilbach of the Fort Meade Chapter and Brian Morgan of the Minnesota Chapter, have already established this new tradition in their respective areas of responsibility. I look forward to the Gray Call becoming a huge asset of, by, and for this community, its mission space, and its people like HammerCon is also becoming. See you there!

Inaugural Fort Meade Chapter Gray Call at the Link/TAC led by Tim Schilbach (right)Image: MCPA
Inaugural Minesota Chapter Gray Call at the Tipsy Steer led by Brian Morgan (right in MCPA tee)Image: MCPA







[6] - Microsoft is a platinum sponsor of the MCPA. 



About the Author

Captain Matt Morris, PhD, is a Cyber Warfare Officer in the US Army Reserve and Senior Security Technical Specialist at Microsoft.