Agile and Adaptable: IWTC Monterey Preserves Navy Readiness in COVID-19 Era

22 October 2020

From Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class Amy Lavelle

MONTEREY, Calif. – Onboard the Presidio of Monterey, Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Monterey is safely moving toward the new normal of daily operations of training and preparing new information warfare Sailors to fight and win in this era of COVID-19.
MONTEREY, Calif. – Onboard the Presidio of Monterey, Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Monterey is safely moving toward the new normal of daily operations of training and preparing new information warfare Sailors to fight and win in this era of COVID-19.
 
 Cmdr. Josie Moore, commanding officer of IWTC Monterey, recently held her first in-person command quarters in the Kent Navy Yard, which was the first in-person command quarters there since Feb. 28. Although attendance was reduced to maintain spacing requirements, the event represents a significant milestone.
 
 This is one example of how IWTC Monterey is taking cautious steps toward a new sense of normalcy while strictly adhering to COVD-19 mitigation requirements outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Monterey County, Presidio of Monterey, and Naval Education and Training Command (NETC).
 
 In March, normal military operations came to a screeching halt with the release of a NAVADMIN, stopping military movement. This was done in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 throughout the Navy. Soon after, NETC issued a general order, restricting all Sailors at training commands, including IWTC Monterey, to remain on post. Divisional quarters, normally held daily in the Senior Chief Shannon Kent Navy Yard, was reduced to once per week, with each division assigned a different day of the week. Simultaneously, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) halted all classroom instruction, and made an emergency transition to virtual language instruction.
 
“It’s been a challenge to both maintain standards and keep morale up,” said Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Brian Burrows. “Sailors have been attending class from their barracks rooms and have been restricted to post in the off-duty hours. Additionally, we have less face-time with them due to restrictions on holding formations. There is simply no substitute to in-person quarters for conducting muster, instruction, and inspection.”
 
Since June, NETC general orders related to COVID-19 mitigation have been modified, granting incrementally greater freedoms. Commands, including IWTC Monterey, have been left to implement policies that adhere to overlapping Navy, garrison, and local governmental orders, and have been extremely cautious with student populations who are normally operating in close-quarters.
 
 In September, IWTC Monterey divisions resumed socially-distanced morning quarters, staggering division times and locations to maintain social-distancing requirements. Staff members use internet resources to conduct virtual quarters for students who live off-post. Although this seemed like a small step forward, the positive impact on Sailors’ morale was undeniable.
 
“I noticed such a change in the morale of my Sailors,” remarked Divisional Leading Petty Officer Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class Sara Schmitt. “And even on days when phone muster was authorized, my Sailors still attend in-person muster; they were so excited to see one another.”
 
While language classes are still held online, one class of six students is attending in-person instruction at one of the schoolhouses. Situated in a large classroom designed to seat 40+ individuals, these students sit at their own tables, spaced widely apart from fellow classmates and instructors.
 
“Being able to be here in-person has not only helped my concentration and motivation, but also, interestingly enough, my sleep,” shared Seaman Dracylene Hartzog. “I imagine that not being in my barracks room helps a lot!”
 
Hartzog is not alone in her praise for modified in-person instruction. Fellow student Lance Corporal Owen Buchheit stated, “Attending class in-person makes such a difference in learning and motivation. Being able to interact with your classmates makes learning that much more productive.”
 
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.
 
 For more on Information Warfare Training Command Monterey, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/IWTCMonterey and http://www.monterey.army.mil/Service_Units/IWTC_Monterey.html, or find them on Facebook.
 
 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.
 
 For more news from the Center for Information Warfare Training domain, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/CIWT, www.facebook.com/NavyCIWT, or www.twitter.com/NavyCIWT.
 
 
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