Meet the Marines' new CIO

new Marine CIO Lorna Mahlock from 2016/USMC photo 

Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock shown here as a colonel and commanding officer of Marine Air Control Group 18 on the Marianas Islands in 2016. (Photo credit: USMC/Lance Cpl. Makenzie Fallon.)

The Defense Department is grappling with aging infrastructure and massive network modernization efforts. But for the Marine Corps, it's a little different -- and Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock, the Corps' new CIO, is looking for transformative solutions to fix that.

"One of the things that's really, really important that I'm looking at industry to do is help modernize the network in a different way," Mahlock said during a panel at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Northern Virginia Chapter's Naval IT Day Oct. 1.

"As you think about the network at the tactical edge, intelligence is going to drive how we use our network, how we deploy our network. So you have to be able to think about the ability to maneuver the network" in a threat-informed environment and "utilize the capabilities that [industry] offers us to help us deter the enemy whether in the Pacific or Europe or Russia."

Mahlock emphasized network and data center modernization, as well as cultivating talent, as top challenges.

"From our perspective, we have a culture, we have an ethos that is uniquely Marines Corps. So we're looking for people who want to do damage to the enemy in cyberspace and we're looking for models to get those folks," she said.

The Defense Department has admitted to challenges with retaining cyber workers, often due to pay constraints or having too few to choose from and train. But one thing that stuck out was Mahlock's linking issues with cyber workforce to internal processes, not a lack of talent.

"There's a lot of talent out there, the challenge for us as an institution is are we agile enough," she said. "Are we open enough in our thinking to leverage that talent?"

Ultimately, Mahlock said, "this is about winning," so the goal is to let the warfighter focus on fighting, not the network.

"I want our Marines to focus on war fighting, so if there's things that others do well, let others do them" well for the USMC, she said.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


  • Defense
    Soldiers from the Old Guard test the second iteration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) capability set during an exercise at Fort Belvoir, VA in Fall 2019. Photo by Courtney Bacon

    IVAS and the future of defense acquisition

    The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System has been in the works for years, but the potentially multibillion deal could mark a paradigm shift in how the Defense Department buys and leverages technology.

  • Cybersecurity
    Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lora Ratliff)

    Mayorkas announces cyber 'sprints' on ransomware, ICS, workforce

    The Homeland Security secretary announced a series of focused efforts to address issues around ransomware, critical infrastructure and the agency's workforce that will all be launched in the coming weeks.

Stay Connected