SAN DIEGO - Officers from the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) invited instructors from Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) on board for training, August 7.
“We in the surface community recognized that we weren’t as focused on warfighting as we could be, but SWMDC is helping to bring our focus back to that,” said San Diego’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Carl W. Meuser while addressing the wardroom. “The Chief of Naval Operations’ number one tenant is warfighting first. The Navy and the nation need us focused on warfighting and SWMDC and the training they provide is a key part of that effort.”
The training was primarily focused on how SMWDC could assist and improve San Antonio-class LPD tactics and the amphibious warfare community as a whole.
“These ships, particularly the San Antonio-class ships, are hugely capable in a command and control environment,” said Cmdr. Dan Arthur, assigned to SWMDC. “It rivals that of an LHA or LHD and we’re going to need that in the fight.”
SMWDC stood up on June 9 with the mission of increasing the warfighting effectiveness of the Surface Fleet by providing advanced tactics and training across the individual, unit and integrated level enabling warships and Warfare Commanders to transform combat potential into maximum combat power.
The foundation of this effort training junior officers to become Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) who will specialize in warfare areas such as amphibious operations, integrated air and missile defense, or a combination of anti-submarine and surface warfare.
“If we could get one WTI on board every ship, which is our goal for the next couple of years, we would now have that go-to guy, that rockstar for tactics,” said Lt. Damon Goodrichhouska, an anti-submarine WTI assigned to SWMDC. “They would raise the tactical proficiency of the watch team and the entire wardroom.”
SMWDC’s primary effort is in developing junior surface warfare officers (SWOs) with enhanced skill sets critical for today's fleet. Surface WTIs are specifically trained as subject matter experts qualified to teach and develop tactics in their specialized field.
“WTIs are the standard bearers for tactical performance,” said Arthur. “If you have a WTI in your command, that’s the guy or gal you go talk to for any tactical question. If you want to know about a missile, about your airframe, about your gun, you ask that person.”
A good portion of the brief was about WTI training, the WTI career path and how they can help increase warfighting effectiveness of ships.
The future of the SWO community is moving towards creating warfighting experts. Soon all ships across the fleet will have WTIs in the ranks of second tour division officers and department heads through the most senior officers.
“As part of this increased focus on warfighting, an officer’s warfighting ability is going to be a major factor in who gets promoted and who doesn’t,” said Meuser. “There are a lot of opportunities for young Surface Warfare Officers, whether it be graduate education or to become WTIs, we’re opening up the opportunities for junior officers, and making their career paths more flexible,” said Meuser. “At the end of the day, the people that get promoted and get command of ships are going to be the most talented warfighters that we have.”
Creating the WTI is just one way the SWO community is changing to enhance the tactical proficiency of the fleet. With more than 35 SWOs completing the new WTI course, these officers will interact with the fleet on board ships, at training centers, and throughout critical points in the training cycle to ensure the latest tactics and best practices are in place.