As soon as my commanding officer said the U.S. Navy wanted to start an advanced tactical-training program for Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) I applied to become a Warfare Tactics Instructor, or WTI. The command at the forefront of this renaissance – the new Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) – sought top SWOs to build the WTI curriculum, and I wanted to be a part of it.
When the time came, I called in for my interview while deployed in the Arabian Gulf on board a minesweeper. After the interview I filled out an application, and a month later my orders were released to report to SMWDC. I was excited to be a part of the WTI program, yet I felt even more grateful to have a stake in establishing this schoolhouse from the very beginning. I graduated from the first Anti-Submarine/Anti-Surface WTI class on April 12, 2016.
Now that I’m a patch wearer, it’s my job to raise operational skill sets on board Navy ships with the latest knowledge in our field. I get to teach SWOs new tactics, techniques, and procedures that were either created or updated by SMWDC. I have the opportunity to travel overseas to study and assess various missile exercises – or work with missile manufacturers to gain advanced knowledge on specific missile systems.
WTI life is exciting because it provides a diverse workday, challenging me to stay up-to-date on multiple warfare areas and allowing me to better train the SWOs coming through the WTI schoolhouse in San Diego. And best of all; I get to do this while remotely pursuing my Master’s Degree in Systems Analysis at the Naval Post Graduate School (NPS).
The process for enrollment was easy. Remote NPS students select which day they elect to have class each week; I have two classes each quarter and the support of my chain of command. They consistently encourage me to pursue my degree while teaching at the WTI schoolhouse. I have the best of both worlds because I get to fulfill my professional and personal goals through the Navy as a teacher by day and a student by night.
Yet, as I much as I enjoy pursuing my advanced education, my true fulfillment is rooted in increasing the tactical proficiency of the Surface Warfare community as a WTI. We’re improving the combat readiness of our ships, our strike groups, and our Navy – while still having time to improve ourselves – in the fleet and in the classroom.