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Molding Future CTI Sailors Into Warfighters
by U.S. Navy Cryptologic Technician 1st Class Amy Lavelle
Center for Information Warfare Training
August 28, 2020

Fire Control Technician 1st Class Michael Clark is serving as the leading petty officer (LPO) of the command indoctrination division for new-accession Sailors waiting to begin language training at Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Monterey.

August 20, 2020 - Fire Control Technician 1st Class Michael Clark, leading petty officer (LPO) of the command indoctrination division at Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Monterey, speaks with new-accession Sailors awaiting language training. IWTC Monterey, as part of the Center for Information Warfare Training, provides a continuum of foreign language training to Navy personnel, which prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations. (U.S. Navy courtesy photo)
August 20, 2020 - Fire Control Technician 1st Class Michael Clark, leading petty officer (LPO) of the command indoctrination division at Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Monterey, speaks with new-accession Sailors awaiting language training. IWTC Monterey, as part of the Center for Information Warfare Training, provides a continuum of foreign language training to Navy personnel, which prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations. (U.S. Navy courtesy photo)

The new Sailors continue Navy military training, work on watch-standing qualifications, and begin to learn about the target language and culture of their assigned language prior to starting actual language training. Navy trainees at IWTC Monterey study languages that are critical to the Navy’s mission, including Arabic, Chinese-Mandarin, Korean, Persian-Farsi, Spanish, and Russian at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC).

Clark comes from an extended family of military veterans, including a retired Navy master chief who served during World War II and completed 30 years of active service aboard submarine and surface platforms.

“While I was living in San Diego, I learned a bit about working on submarines,” shared Clark. “From there, I became more and more interested in Naval service, so I spoke with a recruiter and took the ASVAB [Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery].”

Scoring high on the ASVAB, the recruiter encouraged Clark to consider becoming a cryptologic technician (interpretive) or to go to the Navy’s Nuclear Power School, but he was not convinced.

“I was never a strong student in school, and I didn’t want to be a nuke,” admits Clark. “Knowing that I would have to go and do a language when I barely know English was not appealing, either,” joked Clark.

For Clark, however, serving on a submarine had great appeal.

“Submarines really stood out to me,” he said. “So, once I got to sub school, I was able to make a wish list and FT [fire control technician] was at the top of my list. Warheads on foreheads. The best way to explain what FTs do is that we [control weapons systems] under water.”

Of making the transition from submarines to a shore command, Clark admitted that, “There is a bit of a culture shock. You have to flip a switch because life on a submarine is quite different than that of a shore command. Given the cramped living and working environment on a submarine, things are more relaxed, the crew is close-knit.”

Clark’s transition to a training command, however, was somewhat easier. Prior to IWTC Monterey, Clark worked as a recruiter.

“In many aspects, working with Sailors was similar to my work recruiting,” offered Clark. “I’m molding Sailors’ minds, keeping them motivated, instilling them with the things they need to know.”

When asked if he enjoys being an LPO, he stated, “It’s awesome, and the reason I like it is because I have a chance to direct them in the right path, to give them the tools to be successful so that they have the same opportunities that I had. It is rewarding.”

IWTC Monterey’s indoctrination division has anywhere between 40-80 Sailors at any given time.

“He [Clark] is very easy to approach,” said former indoctrination division Sailor Seaman Britnee Perales, who is waiting to begin her studies in the Russian Basic Course. “His patience and ability to explain things in an easy to understand way makes him a great leader.”

When asked if he plans to make the Navy a career, Clark readily responded, “I knew early on that I wanted to make the Navy a career. I will stay in until the Navy doesn’t want me.”

IWTC Monterey, as part of the Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT), provides a continuum of foreign language training to Navy personnel, which prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.

With four schoolhouse commands, a detachment, and training sites throughout the United States and Japan, CIWT trains over 22,000 students every year, delivering trained information warfare professionals to the Navy and joint services. CIWT also offers more than 200 courses for cryptologic technicians, intelligence specialists, information systems technicians, electronics technicians, and officers in the information warfare community.

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