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By Staff Sgt. Tina Villalobos
Task Force Spartan
Chief Warrant Officer 3 John Mosco, tactical communications chief, signal company, 28th Infantry Division, Pa. Army National Guard, really doesn’t have to seek out opportunities to prove his moxie and charisma. But on March 28, he demonstrated that challenges can be overcome with tenacity, confidence and a willingness to succeed.
Known as an information technology (IT) expert, Mosco was one of two soldiers the 28th Infantry Division considered as candidates to deliver a lecture at exercise Gulf Shield One which involved 23 Task Force Spartan (TFS) partner nations.
Gulf Shield One is the largest regional exercise of its kind in terms of the number of participating countries and military members, as well as the quality of equipment and interactions involved. Elements of the exercise included live fire, simulations, lectures, workshops and a command post exercise (CPX), as well as elements of joint planning. Gulf Shield One promotes interoperability, camaraderie and regional stability through the shared understanding of techniques, processes and capabilities.
Mosco drew the lucky straw when his military visa arrived ahead of the other candidate. Having earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, multiple relevant certifications, and with his doctoral degree underway, Mosco came to the event with a solid foundation for success.
“I was tasked with going to Saudi Arabia to deliver a cyber-security lecture,” said Mosco. “I went there thinking I was giving the lecture to a smaller group, but I got there to find that I was going to provide the lecture to more than 300 people.”
Although he had very little time to prepare, Mosco was undaunted. In his civilian duties as a military technician he is constantly immersed in IT issues. And as an adjunct professor for Delaware County Community College and Delaware Valley University, he is well versed in teaching IT subjects as well as developing learning plans and customizing syllabi based upon known learner capabilities.
“The challenge with it was that when I teach at the university, I have an understanding of what the students know based upon the course — if it’s a 101 course, if it’s a 102 course, I know what to teach,” said Mosco.
He immediately took action, gathering resources from his predecessors of the 35th Infantry Division, as well as pulling from elements of a course he teaches.
“I found that one of the classes that I teach, and that I’m currently teaching while I am here, had a cyber-security lecture that I use,” said Mosco. “I took the information from the 35th and combined it with my own lecture and made some adjustments to be more of what I thought they were looking for. I spent a lot of time developing the course content.”
According to Mosco, the requirements were to provide a basic overview of cyber security operations and the steps that a person can take to secure his or her personal system, as well as to gain an overall understanding of cyber security concepts.
In addition to having to learn the requirements of his audience, other challenges included working with an interpreter (to provide inclusion for attendees who speak Arabic), having to factor in additional presentation time to translate concepts through the interpreter, as well as a maximum presentation time of one hour.
Certain IT terminology did not translate well from Arabic to English. One example was a type of malware Americans refer to as a worm. In Arabic this malware is described as a moving/mobile virus.
“The reason we call that kind of threat a worm is because it self-replicates. If you cut a worm up, you get a bunch of worms,” said Mosco.
Mosco and his interpreter shared their apprehension at presenting to such a large audience and the many challenges they would face, but the two worked together to ensure their audience would understand the presentation. The slides were supplemented with illustrations to bridge the language gap.
Through their shared sentiments, Mosco and his translator saw their shared humanity and found the ability to encourage and support one another.
“I was kind of amazed. It made me reflect on the fact that we’re all human with the same struggles,” said Mosco. “I teach in front of people all the time, but this room was an enormous auditorium with representatives from many nations. There were TV cameras as well as still photography. The whole time I was recorded.”
Mosco said that although he teaches professionally, he had never spoken in front of an audience that he didn’t know in some way, and the audience at Gulf Shield One was very diverse, with a wide range of academic and professional achievement.
Being housed with the senior officers of a variety of nations, to include Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, as well as several African nations, Mosco used his mealtime conversations with them to determine their needs and help him rework and tailor his lesson plans to his audience.
“I was the last speaker to go — so I had three days of breakfast, lunch and dinner with the circle of senior officers, to include all kinds of officers from around the world,” said Mosco. “I needed a real-world example, so I went and researched the examples of concern to their nations they had provided during our meals together. They were pleased to find that my first slide the following morning encompassed the issues they had discussed with me.”
Due to his success in completing the academic portion of the exercise, Mosco was also invited to participate in the first portion of the Gulf Shield One Command Post Exercise (CPX) serving as a communications advisor and observer working with the Saudi Military.
According to Mosco, from the moment he arrived in Saudi Arabia until the moment he left, he was treated as a distinguished visitor.
“Their hospitality was second to none. The absolute equality and respect and courtesy with which they treat one another was amazing,” said Mosco. “I have never experienced in all my life a culture that was so courteous and respectful and extremely generous and hospitable. The way they greet each other and talk with one another, you feel respected and honored at all times.”
Mosco said in his visit and personal interactions, he experienced a very open, friendly, and warm Saudi Arabia, where he was welcomed, included and befriended everywhere he went.
“This lecture was one of the most impactful experiences of my life,” said Mosco. “To be selected by the 28th Infantry Division to represent not only our unit, but the Army, and our country was extremely gratifying. It was pretty clear to me when I arrived, that I was representing the U.S. at an international exercise. These exercises are common, but I think the opportunity to be the person to present does not come along very often. I was very blessed and honored to be chosen by the unit.”
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION