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Women's History Month: Rear Admiral Elizabeth Train and Rear Admiral Danelle Barrett

Navy leaders and pioneers

"From the Revolutionary War to current conflicts, women have played a crucial role in the security of our nation and the success of the U.S. Navy. Join us as we celebrate Women's History Month by profiling women leaders and pioneers across the Navy."

Navy Photo

Rear Admiral Elizabeth Train is currently serving as Director, National Maritime Intelligence-Integration Office and Commander, Office Of Naval Intelligence.

Q: Why did you decide to join/serve the Navy?

A: My family on both sides has a long legacy of service in the Navy and Marine Corps. I had been out working in the private sector for about five years when I realized I might age out of the opportunity to enter the Navy through OCS. I was working in management in the outdoor outfitting business. I loved the job but didn't see it as a lifelong career-but lifelong passion for the outdoors, yes. I had been concerned about apparent lack of opportunity for women in the military, however, given the constraints of the Combat Exclusion Law. My father, grandfather and uncles always placed a strong emphasis on Command at Sea being the ultimate accomplishment in the Navy, and that was not an option for women in 1983. I became aware of Navy's early efforts to place female intelligence officers into P3-Orion anti-submarine warfare squadrons providing them an opportunity to participate in operational deployments. I drove down to the recruiter in Richmond in a January snowstorm from Charlottesville and never looked back!

Q: Who have your role models been that have influenced you or helped to guide you?

A: a) My mother. She always told me with hard work I should be able to accomplish anything. She was a fierce advocate for her 4 daughters (so was my Dad!). She married young and stayed home to raise us and support my father in his naval career.
b. Tish Long. Former Director of NGA and accomplished leader in Naval Intelligence (where she began her career) and the National Intelligence Community. She is devoted to mentoring young professionals in the community and dedicates a good deal of effort toward women's mentoring programs. She is an incredible role model for achieving success while effectively demonstrating a reasonable work- life balance.

Q: Please tell us a story about someone, perhaps in your family or otherwise, who has influenced you or challenged you to become more than you might.

A: Whenever I would struggle with work life balance of raising two sons while having a Naval career, she would encourage me by jokingly saying that if I stayed home every day baking them chocolate chip cookies, they would not be happy and neither would I! In spite of not having a career, my mother was incredibly hard working-in literacy programs, volunteer work, and education-dedicated to developing the future citizenry of our nation. Another key influencer in my life was my parents' encouragement for me to go on a "walkabout" during a year off after high school. I took that time to complete an end-to-end hike of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. They didn't blink over their 18 year old daughter out there on the trail and gave me strong encouragement. Completing that hike was a life changing event for me. I gained confidence in my ability and strength to face adversity. Up to that point in my life I suffered lack of confidence in myself. Later, my father had retired in Nov 1982 and was on his own "through hike" of the trail, and briefly came off in July 1983 to put his uniform back on to swear me in at my commissioning.
This is a photo collage of Rear Admiral Elizabeth Train.

Q: Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why.

A: Whenever I have been asked this question throughout my career, I have been blessed in that it is always the assignment I was in at the time! Every successive assignment was more challenging and personally and professionally rewarding. There were several highlights that stand out. My first assignment as the air intelligence officer in a P-3 squadron gave me the opportunity to participate in detachments across East Asia and the Indian Ocean. My first CO gave me the opportunity to serve in the role I was trained to do-Intelligence. This scenario was not experienced by my female colleagues in other squadrons, who's COs did not permit them to go on operational detachments and loaded them up with non-intel collateral duties.

Going to sea on a Carrier Strike Group Staff immediately following repeal of the Combat Exclusion Law was a highlight. Lots of lessons learned for the Navy, some funny stories and some not...but truly a memorable experience.

My time as Director for Intelligence on both the US Pacific Command staff and the Joint Staff was extremely challenging and rewarding. During my assignment with USPACOM, I led an interagency group of experts across intelligence, industry, and nuclear organizations to provide intelligence and technical support to the US Joint Task Force conducting relief, recovery, and departure operations following the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan in 2011. I additionally held daily coordination video teleconferences with my Japanese counterparts to exchange information and understand their requirements. Working with those experts to deliver innovative application of intelligence capabilities for the purpose of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief was extremely rewarding. Japan is an important ally, and it was clear that the US efforts to assist them were extremely valued and appreciated.

As the JS Director for Intelligence, I was responsible for providing the Chairman with intelligence centered on strategic warning, delivering all source responses to contingency operations and plans, and assessing, validating, integrating, and advocating for current and future warfighter capability requirements. The Chairman is the principal customer as he prepares to provide his 'best military advice' to the Commander in Chief. It was a period of many simultaneous DoD operations-Arab Spring, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and counterterrorism operations across multiple continents. It was fast -paced, exhilarating and hard work by the entire staff. I felt that the hard work was valued.

Command! I have been privileged to have served in Command twice, as an O6 and a Flag Officer. While in Command of the Navy Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center, I was responsible for officer and enlisted accession level, mid-career, and specialized training for Naval Intelligence. The best part of each week was presiding over a graduation ceremony, with families from across America in attendance, beaming with pride over their sons, daughters and loved ones-who have volunteered to serve knowing they would immediately be assigned to combat theaters. As Commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Navy's Intelligence Center and the oldest intelligence organization in the United States, I work with an amazingly talented and diverse military and civilian work force who not only deliver intelligence support to the fleet but provide highly technical intelligence to acquisition programs, deploy with special operations forces and manage SCI networks across the Navy. While our building may not get underway, this command operates at high optempo 24/7..the energy and enthusiasm in the building is inspiring and rewarding.

Q: What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

A: People follow leaders because they want to. Good leaders walk through doors they may not have expected to open, and hold them open for those that follow. As a leader in today's Navy, I am accountable for anticipating and adapting to surprise and uncertainty, for recognizing change and leading transitions, empowering my team through trust and understanding. Leaders have an obligation to understand and mentor those around them, to develop their teams, to ensure they pass on what they know to the future generation. I have worked hard to invest in those that follow me so they are effective and pass along their knowledge. Inspiring others to aim high with a sense of purpose and succeed is the reward of leadership.