WTIs
A Day in the Life of Warfare Tactics Instructors
By Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Cox, Warfare Tactics Instructor

Rear Adm. Jim Kilby, commander, Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, (SMWDC) first introduced the Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) concept to this forum in the December 2014 issue. Since then, WTIs have authored two Aegis Wheel Book editorials. Lt. Chris Murphy, integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) WTI, wrote about optimizing the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD watch team. Lt. Doug Wilkins IAMD WTI, described his increasing appreciation of the complexity of the BMD mission and the importance of systems integration, tactical thought, and BMD mission preparation. My focus in this editorial is to provide an update/current status of SMWDC’s WTI programs and a glimpse into some of the efforts to improve Surface Force tactical readiness undertaken by our IAMD WTIs.

I’ll start with a little background on the Warfighting Development Centers (WDC) and SMWDC. In June 2015 the Chief of Naval Operations approved Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet’s plan to transition warfare centers of excellence to warfighting development centers to enhance fleet warfighting capabilities and readiness across the theater, operational, and tactical levels of war. SMWDC is Commander Naval Surface Force’s executive agent to train Surface and Mine Warfare forces in advanced tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) across all warfare areas at the individual, unit, integrated, and joint levels. In addition to advanced tactical training, SMWDC’s missions include:

  • Setting and enforcing combat proficiency standards
  • Developing, validating, standardizing, publishing and revising TTPs
  • Providing operational and subject matter expertise to support strike group commanders, numbered fleet commanders, Navy component commanders, and combatant commanders
  • Leading training and warfighting effectiveness assessments to identify and mitigate gaps across all platforms and staffs for assigned mission areas as the supported WDC
  • Collaborate with other WDCs to ensure cross-platform integration and alignment and to promote cross-domain synergy

SMWDC is comprised of a headquarters component located in San Diego, Detachment Little Creek, Va., our Amphibious Warfare, and East Coast Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) Directorate; Detachment San Diego our Anti-Submarine / Anti-Surface and West Coast SWATT Directorate; Detachment Point Loma, also in San Diego, which is our Mine Warfare Directorate; and Detachment Dahlgren, Va., our IAMD Directorate. SMWDC has four principal focus areas that will enable the execution of our missions:

  • Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI)
  • Doctrine and Tactics
  • Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT)
  • Surface Warfare Combat Training Continuum (SWCTC)
Our target is tactical dominance across all mission areas, and the WTI program (the subject of this article) is the cornerstone of this effort. WTIs are leading the charge to increase the tactical acuity of our surface forces and develop the tactics necessary to defeat all emerging threats.

There are three WTI courses of instruction that are in varying stages of development. SMWDC Detachment Little Creek has developed the Amphibious Warfare (AMW) WTI course; the 14 week pilot course commences in March 2016. Detachment San Diego has developed the Anti-Submarine / Anti-Surface (ASW-SUW) WTI course; the 14 week pilot course began in January 2016. And Detachment Dahlgren has been graduating IAMD WTIs since November 2013; six cohorts (54 total graduates) of IAMD WTIs have successfully completed the 19-week course of instruction and a seventh is projected to graduate in May 2016.

Several members of the IAMD WTI cadre who are making a difference are highlighted below. These lieutenants represent only a fraction of the good work accomplished by IAMD WTIs in the months of February-March 2016. They serve as examples of how we’re executing our vision for WTI employment.

  • Lt. Josh Mills and Lt. Emma Mattson: SMWDC Headquarters
  • Lt. Andy Blanco: Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School
  • Lt. Pat George: Aegis Training and Readiness Center
  • Lt. Serg Samardzic: SMWDC Operations/ Training and Readiness, and Lt. Douglas Wilkins: Center for Surface Combat Systems, San Diego
  • Lt. Kyle Sullivan: Surface Warfare Officer School

IAMD WTIThis is an exciting time to be a Navy Surface Warfare Officer. We are building our cadre of WTIs -- a network of force multipliers who will have an exponential impact on the tactical readiness of the Surface Force. The WTI program represents a palpable culture shift for the Surface Warfare community, in both career progression and expertise. The program is designed to recruit our best tactical athletes. And then assign them to key training and tactical development commands for production tours, and eventually put one on each ship and afloat staff. This is one of the most visible and tangible examples of embracing high-velocity learning, and welcoming a new warfighting culture of tactical excellence by design. WTIs are out in fleet making a difference; you can easily identify them by their red and black patches as they carry out the WTI ethos: Warriors, Thinkers and Teachers.


This article was previously published in Volume 10, Issue 1 of the Aegis BMD Wheel Book Newsletter.

For more information or If you have any questions regarding the IAMD WTI or any other WTI program, please contact SWO_WTI@navy.mil.

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