By Mass communication specialist 1st Class Jerry Jimenez, Navy Office of Community Outreach

SAN DIEGO – Chief Petty Officer Kristin Burnett, a native of Merrill, was inspired to join the U.S. Navy for education and travel opportunities.

Now, 17 years later, Burnett is stationed with a command responsible for teaching future information warriors the skills required to defend America around the world.

“It’s exciting for the impact we have on the fleet at large because we’re a training command,” Burnett said.

Burnett, a 2002 graduate of Merrill High School, is a cryptologic technician (technical) operating from the Information Warfare Training Command in San Diego.

“I am the leading chief petty officer of the intelligence division,” Burnett said.

Burnett credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Merrill.

“I learned the importance of a having a strong work ethic,” Burnett said. “Being a woman in the Navy, you have to be resilient a lot because it’s a male-dominated industry.”

IWTC San Diego is just one component that makes up the Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT) domain, headquartered at Naval Air Station Pensacola Corry Station, Florida.

Charged with developing the future technical cadre of the information warfare community, the CIWT domain leads, manages and delivers Navy and joint force training to 22,000 students annually. With 1,200 military, civilian and contracted staff members, CIWT oversees about 200 courses at four information warfare training commands, two detachments, and additional learning sites located throughout the United States and Japan.

CIWT is responsible for training enlisted cryptologic technicians, information systems technicians, intelligence specialists and electronics technicians. CIWT also provides training to cryptologic warfare, information professional, intelligence and foreign area officers that prepares them to be prepared to wage battle and assure the nation’s success in this burgeoning warfare arena.

There are many reasons to be proud of naval service, and Burnett is most proud of earning the rank of chief petty officer.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it this far,” Burnett said. “I thought I would do my first enlistment and get out, but I ended up making chief by my 10-year mark.”

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Burnett and other sailors and staff know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes serving as a key part of the information warfare community in its mission to gain a deep understanding of the inner workings of adversaries, and developing unmatched knowledge of the battlespace during wartime.

These sailors and staff have a tremendous responsibility in creating war-fighting options for fleet commanders and advising decision-makers at all levels as they serve worldwide aboard ships, submarines and aircraft.

“Being in the Navy means serving next to people that are like family,” Burnett said.