SMWDC’s goal is to produce 110 WTIs per year with one WTI attached to each surface ship and staff (Center for Surface Combat Systems, Afloat Training Groups, etc) to ensure a single training standard for the surface fleet.
Junior officers aboard JPJ said having the rear admiral come on board ignited their interest in the WTI program, primarily because the career trajectory allows opportunity for growth, specialization and appreciation.
“Do I see myself pursuing the path of a WTI? Right now, where I am in my career, I would say, yes,” said Ensign Elee Wakim, main propulsion officer (MPO) aboard JPJ. “It offers the opportunity for me to specialize, learn and grow in a specific warfare area. It allows me to leave my imprint and really have ownership of something in my career. It’s an exciting opportunity and it’s one I think I’ll pursue.”
Lt. j.g. Alexander Roman, anti-submarine warfare officer (ASWO) for JPJ, agreed with Wakim.
“Would I sign up to be a WTI? Of course, without a doubt,” said Roman. “This is an exciting time to be a SWO; being a better warfighter is what I signed up to do. WTI is the future of the [surface] Navy. Being able to teach tactics, being able to understand the tactics and being able to tactically employ the weapon systems, and build up the proficiency of the wardroom, wherever you go [as a WTI] in the Navy, is the way that it should be.”
Dating back to summer 2014, Kilby and his SMWDC staff have been on a ship-to-ship campaign seeking the most tactically passionate junior SWOs to prospectively become WTIs. His visit to the JPJ marked his 55th ship visit spanning from San Diego, Virginia, Japan and now Hawaii.
“When you take time out of your day to go to the ship and address them, that’s a definite overt signal; it’s a visible tangible signal that we are serious about this program,” said Kilby. “The JPJ is unique; she’s the test ship for the Missile Defense Agency in the Navy. Those officers are on the tactical cutting edge of our Navy and I definitely want to pull that experience and leverage it as we move forward into this program.”
In the end, Kilby said the WTI program is a long-term investment opportunity, one that builds a more robust surface Navy, with more tactically proficient leaders as they gain subject matter expertise at more junior levels.
“The best investment is in our people; we’re investing in our youth and building that expertise at a much more junior level,” said Kilby. “We will see over time, that those officers will stay in and feel valued, and become great commanding officers, destroyer squadron commanders or amphibious commanders in the future.”
SMWDC headquarters was formally established June 2015 at Naval Base San Diego and is responsible for increasing the tactical proficiency of individual surface warfare communities through the creation of warfare doctrine, underway assessment exercises and Warfare Tactics Instructors.
For more information on SMWDC and WTI email SWO_WTI@navy.mil