FALLON, NEV. (April 19, 2017) – Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center’s (SMWDC) are now earning their wings. Surface WTIs Lt. Andrew Blanco, Lt. Weston Floyd and Lt. Scott Margolis are all graduates of SWMDC’s comprehensive Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) WTI program, as well as new graduates of the E-2 Hawkeye Weapons and Tactics Instructor (HEWTI) program , taught at the Naval Air Warfighting Development Center in Fallon, Nevada.
“By completing each of these courses we are better equipped to bridge the gap between the surface and aviation communities by communicating ideas, training war fighters, and developing tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP), that impact both communities,” said Floyd. “With the development of new capabilities that require IAMD and Hawkeye cooperative knowledge in contested operational environments, there has been an increased demand for integration between the two communities.”
WTI patches on a uniform are known as a symbol of prestige, distinction and expertise. Whether naval aviator or surface warfare officer (SWO), it shows that the wearer is a tactical subject matter expert who is humble, approachable and credible in the latest tactics and doctrine.
Floyd said his WTI mindset is evolving following his completion ofboth the HEWTI and IAMDcourses, and thereby better equipping him to foster integration through training, academic lectures and TTP development. Through complete emersion of these philosophies, “WTIs are able to effectively operate in both simulated and integrated events, not only with the Navy, but also with other services,” he said.
Blanco said the proficiency garnered through completing the intensive training is essential in not only becoming a technical expert, but also when working with partner nations and services.
“With my assignment as the first IAMD WTI stationed at the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School (CAEWWS) at NAWDC, it was encouraged by my aviator counterparts that I complete the (dual) curriculum,” he said. “This is a similar process that has been used in the past for integrating Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) Officers from other nations and services like the British Royal Navy and the U.S. Air Force, who typically also have representatives on the CAEWWS instructor staff.”
The HEWTI course, in conjunction with SWO philosophy, creates a unique and in-depth understanding of material otherwise not readily apparent in the fleet. The instructors expect certain standards from their students, whether aviators or SWOs. Floyd said, “Otherwise he would not have been exposed to the critical insights of how the Hawkeye community executes their mission sets and how they integrate in a Joint environment.”
“This exposure allows us to translate and communicate Hawkeye lessons learned and best practices back to the Surface community, further enhancing integration and cooperative efforts,” he said.
Blanco said he also wanted to spearhead this integration with both the Hawkeye and surface communities.
“I did not simply want to be a specialist in my own area of expertise of integrated air and missile defense,” he said. “I wanted to develop into a trusted representative of another’s community special skillset to allow for increased staff recognition and increased exposure to the key integration concepts that could enhance other surface community initiatives.”
The concept of dual-patch wearers is a fairly new concept where junior SWOs can graduate from a WTI course at both SMWDC and NAWDC, but one seen throughout Naval Aviation with many Hawkeye WTIs also graduating from TOPGUN.
“The traditions and professional credibility associated with being a patch-wearer within the aviation community comes with a great amount of responsibility to uphold the quality and esteem we have for our instructors for many years,” said Blanco. “The trust that you are given when asked to represent another community other than your own by wearing their patch should not be taken lightly.”
Floyd offers some advice for future Surface WTIs.
“Earn that respect and credibility within multiple warfare communities, he said. “SWOs and aviators have made significant strides with integration and it is imperative that we continue to foster this positive relationship by learning each other’s communities and specialties.”
In 2015, the Chief of Naval Operations authorized the establishment and modification of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), and the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC), to enhance fleet warfighting capabilities and readiness across all levels of war. WTIs are an elite cadre of surface warfare officers and aviators taught by SMWDC and NAWDC -- respectively. Graduates of the programs are charged , with increasing the tactical proficiency of the Navy by bringing advanced tactical training and doctrine development to the fleet in support of maintaining maritime superiority. Other warfighting development centers include the Expeditionary Warfighting Development Center, Undersea Warfighting Development Center, and the newly established Naval Information Warfighting Development Center.
For more information on SMWDC’s WTI program, visit: http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/nsmwdc/Pages/Home.aspx#.WPfq2Xpo7W6