MONTEREY, Calif. (NNS) -- Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) (CTI) 1st Class Joel Kelly is serving as the leading petty officer (LPO) of N33, the division of Navy trainees at Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Monterey studying Arabic language and dialects at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC).
Kelly joined the Navy directly out of high school in August 2009. His father served in the Navy for six years and his uncle recently retired from the service. The Navy has always been a part of life for Kelly and his two brothers, who are both currently serving active duty in the Navy as well.
Aside from being influenced by his family’s service, Kelly’s inclination to travel also drew him to serve.
“I’ve always been interested in getting out and seeing different parts of our country and the world, and the Navy seemed to be the best fit,” said Kelly.
Kelly made the decision to join the Navy out of high school. Initially interested in another rating, it was his father, a former submariner who interested him in the CTI rating. Soon after, Kelly asked his recruiter about the rating.
“Next thing you know, I was sitting in a room taking the Defense Language Aptitude Battery,” recalled Kelly.
Soon, he was shipping off to Recruit Training Command Great Lakes with a CTI contract.
Kelly graduated from the Arabic (Modern Standard) basic course at the DLIFLC in 2009, and knew even then that he hoped to return as a staff member if the opportunity presented itself.
“I looked up to my LPOs and chiefs, and they have all gone on to have very successful careers in the Navy,” shared Kelly. "I considered those who had helped bring me up as a junior Sailor during my time at DLI to be Sailors whom I aspired to be like. The things they instilled in me at 18 years old have stuck with me to this day, and I wanted to have that same impact on junior Sailors.”
Kelly certainly seems to have accomplished that goal; his Sailors look up to him just as he looked up to his LPOs.
“He definitely holds us to a high standard,” said Seaman Ayshaeleni Cheretakis, who is currently studying in the Arabic (Levantine) Basic Course. “He pushes us to be the best we can in our language while maintaining military excellence, but never forgets to ensure our morale is up.”
Kelly also acknowledges that learning is a two-way street, in that he learns about himself as he trains Sailors. By learning to communicate effectively with all of his Sailors, he has also grown significantly as a leader while serving as an LPO. These experiences empower him be a more effective leader, helping him to find new ways to reach all his Sailors.
“Not all Sailors respond in the same way to adversity and challenges,” added Kelly.
During his time as a staff member at DLIFLC, Kelly also worked as a military language instructor (MLI). Upon returning to Monterey, his first year and a half was spent working as a full-time MLI, which he remembers as a positive experience. Kelly worked with students from all branches of service, helping them learn the target language.
“It was very rewarding to see a struggling student put in the necessary time and effort and to watch it pay off in the end,” Kelly recounted.
In regards to his current position as an LPO, he firmly believes that the best part is working with junior Sailors. He knows that the way he carries himself, the training he delivers, and every word of advice he imparts on young Sailors makes a big impact every day. He mentions that the work done by MLIs and LPOs alike has significant and tangible results, which they get to see every week on graduation days.
“It brings me a lot of pride every time I get to see one of my Sailors cross the stage and become a CTI, knowing just how much they had to overcome to achieve it,” concluded Kelly.
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, two detachments, and training sites throughout the United States and Japan, CIWT is recognized as Naval Education and Training Command’s top learning center for the past three years. Training over 20,000 students every year, CIWT delivers 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 news from the Center for Information Warfare Training domain, visit www.navy.mil/local/cid/, www.netc.navy.mil/centers/ciwt/, www.facebook.com/NavyCIWT, or www.twitter.com/NavyCIWT.