ANG gains newest COS: Pa. ANG's 112th COS formally recognizes cyber leader

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond
  • 111th Attack Wing Public Affairs
Pa. Air National Guard's Lt. Col. Claudia Malone was formally recognized as the 112th Cyberspace Operation Squadron commander during a ceremony held at the 111th Attack Wing headquarters building here Sept. 10.

Ushering in the Air National Guard's newest COS, the event was piloted by Col. Michael Shenk, 111th Operations Group commander, who established Malone's status amid an audience of friends, family, Wing and state-level leadership.

"This is definitely a momentous occasion -- we are making history," Malone stated while addressing the 112th COS members in the audience. "This event marks the beginning of a new era."

With only 12 COS units in the Air National Guard, Malone pointed out that the assumption of command and official recognition of the unit escorts in a new chapter for Horsham AGS. The 112th COS mission operates on both a state and federal front, providing cyber support for a multitude of platforms based upon the area of responsibility.

"We bring a very unique capability to the state of Pennsylvania, to the governor, to the [the Adjutant General] to mitigate risks," said Malone. "I feel this is a long time coming."

Shenk agreed with Malone that the COS unit is a vital mission that brings with it high expectations. He stated to the audience that Malone will serve as the kingpin of an operation that leads the charge in ensuring the cybersecurity of defense systems. More specifically, the unit will perform defensive Cyber Protection Team (CPT) missions in support of U.S. Cyber Command and state of Pennsylvania taskings. The COS is part of a growing trend in the Air Force to program and organize cyber personnel into a new Cyber Mission Force (CMF) construct, operationalizing what it does in cyberspace.

This high-stakes mission required a precision leader be chosen to take the helm.

"It's really important that we select the right person to stand up and lead this new mission," said Shenk. "There was some tough competition, but Lt. Col. Malone was clearly the best choice for the job...I couldn't see anyone better qualified to stand up this new mission."

Shenk proceeded by listing the attributes that separated Malone from the pack.

Of note, were her technical and command experiences stemming from the multiple roles she's held within her military career - from administration officer to flight commander. Malone was also complimented on her implementation of the Air Force core values. Shenk observed her drive and commitment to Project Hero, which is community- and military-based recovery and rehabilitation program for veterans.

"Her integrity is beyond reproach," he said. "...No one puts in a longer technician day getting the job done, then follows up by offering her spare time to help military veterans in need more than Lt. Col. Malone."

During the ceremony, the squadron guidon was decorously passed from Shenk to Malone. Afterwards, as the first-ever 112th COS commander, Malone stated her official testimony regarding the cyber trade. She described the evolution of the cyberspace field over the past 50 years, and with a bit of humor, projected its future.

"So over the next 50 years, our children, we and our grandchildren are going to be introduced to more lexicon, methods, bad actors and threats - and new words to describe them all. Don't be surprised in 50 years if you hear in the news...that our cyberspace operations squadron, or some variant of, has uploaded a KUNV.18 uplink to the Squid Run IP cipher language controller to Preep a Nerkle into space."