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News | March 24, 2022

First Female Deputy Secretary of IANTN Secretariat Encourages Women to Break Down Barriers

By U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet

The opportunity to serve at the Inter-American Naval Telecommunications Network (IANTN) Secretariat was not a guarantee for Lt. Cmdr. 
Maria Belen Canales, but her wish came true when she was selected for the position of Deputy Secretary of IANTN Secretariat at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Feb. 16, 2022. 

This makes Canales, a Peruvian naval officer, the first female deputy secretary of IANTN in its 60-year history.
 

“It is exciting to have Lt. Cmdr. Canales join the IANTN Team,” said Cmdr. Lee Bush, Director of Communications and Information Systems at U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. “Lt. Cmdr. Canales as the partner nation lead of the IANTN, will transcend the organization into a new era and expand responsibilities. She brings talents in various phases of military operations which will be a valued asset to the IANTN as well as the Inter-American Naval Conference organization.”
 
Canales has worked hard in her career to reach this point and hopes her achievements will inspire other women.
 
“This milestone is helping me a lot,” said Canales. “But not only for me, this also opens doors for the rest of the women in my country, and tells them that if you want something bad enough, work for it and you’ll get it.”
 
A career surface warfare officer, Canales joined the Peruvian navy while in college because she was curious about what the navy offered. In 1998, Sailors from the Peruvian Naval Academy came to her school and provided an informational session to students, which sparked her interest to attend the school.
 
Canales’ career has been benchmarked with other ‘firsts’ as a female naval officer. In 2021, she was the first female to be the executive officer of a Peruvian navy corvette ship.
 
She loved working on a ship because she enjoys basic seamanship and the teamwork mentality that is inherently developed amongst the crew.
 
On setting goals and being persistent to reach her achievements, Canales says, “I worked for it and knocked on a lot of doors.”
 
As the deputy of IANTN, Canales manages the partner nation team that establishes and facilitates the communications of partner nations with the U.S. during both normal peacetime and casualty situations. Canales explained it is important to have IANTN because partner nation countries need to be able to communicate and share information with each other in order to maximize interoperability and cohesion. Since every country has their own set of policies and procedures, it is challenging to align these, a challenge that Canales said she is ready to take on.
 
Hand-picked by the Peruvian Head of Navy, Adm. Alcalá for this position, Canales said she looks forward to the chance to work with all types of people from different navies. People come from all walks of life, and she enjoys receiving input from them, bringing new ideas to the table.
 
“She’s a no-nonsense, goal oriented, surface warfare officer that will take this organization to another level,” said Lowell McClintock, the civilian deputy of IANTN Secretariat.
 
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