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PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 26, 2016) -- Lt. Serg Samardzic and Lt. Aaron Jochimsen, Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) coordinate missile exercise rehearsals on the USS Princeton during an anti-submarine exercise in the Southern California operating area Sept. 26, 2016. Thirteen WTIs are underway with USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group leading the Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT). SWATT is a three-week exercise to tactically prepare cruisers and destroyers for carrier strike group integration. SMWDC opened June 9, 2015 at Naval Base San Diego and is responsible for increasing the tactical proficiency of the Navy's Surface warfare community through the creation of warfare doctrine, underway advanced-training exercises and warfare tactics instructors.(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Andersen/Released)

 

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PACIFIC OCEAN (Sep. 27, 2016) - Seaman Mariessa Failing fires a M240 machine gun off the starboard side bridge wing during a Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) weapons exercise in the Southern California operating area. SWATT is a three-week exercise designed to tactically prepare cruisers and destroyers for carrier strike group integration. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class William J. Blees/Released)

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PACIFIC OCEAN (Sep. 27, 2016) - USS Chafee (DDG 90) fires its Mark 45 5-inch lightweight gun off the port side during a Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) weapons exercise with USS Princeton (CG 59) and USS Shoup (DDG 86) in the Southern California operating area. SWATT is a three-week exercise designed to tactically prepare cruisers and destroyers for carrier strike group integration. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class William J. Blees/Released)

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PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 2, 2016) - USS Princeton (CG 59) fires multiple weapons on a high speed maneuvering surface target during an exercise in the Southern California operating area. Thirteen warfare tactics instructors are underway with USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group leading the Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT). SWATT is a three-week exercise to tactically prepare cruisers and destroyers for carrier strike group integration. Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center opened June 9, 2015, at Naval Base San Diego and is responsible for increasing the tactical proficiency of the Navy's surface warfare community through the creation of warfare doctrine, underway advanced-training exercises and warfare tactics instructors. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Andersen/Released)

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PACIFIC OCEAN (Sep. 26,2016) – Operations Specialist 2nd Class Keenan Gilchrist manages surface tracks in the combat information center onboard USS Chafee (DDG 90) during a Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) missile defense exercise rehearsal in the Southern California operating area. SWATT is a three-week exercise designed to tactically prepare cruisers and destroyers for carrier strike group integration. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William J. Blees/Released)

 

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PACIFIC OCEAN (Sep. 26, 2016) -- Lt. Damon Goodrich-Houska (left), and Lt. Ben Olivas, warfare tactics instructors (WTI) of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) assess a combat watch team onboard USS Chafee (DDG 90) during a missile defense exercise rehearsal in the Southern California operating area. Thirteen WTIs are currently underway with USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group leading the Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT). SWATT is a three-week exercise designed to tactically prepare cruisers and destroyers for carrier strike group integration. SMDWC opened June 9, 2015 at Naval Base San Diego and is responsible for increasing the tactical proficiency of the Navy’s surface warfare community through the creation of warfare doctrine, underway advanced-training exercises and WTIs. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William J. Blees/Released)

More SWATT Photos

Chafee Increases Tactical Readiness with WTIs, SWATT Exercise
By Petty Officer 3rd Class William J. Blees, Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The dimly lit room glows with a bluish tint. There are people seated at consoles across the room, staring at display screens that show a wide array of information essential to the ship's tactical mission.

Looking down at the anti-submarine warfare evaluating table in the Combat Information Center (CIC) is a group of Sailors fully engaged in the current operation at hand. In the group are two Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTIs), who are easily identifiable by the black and red patches on their uniforms. As the training exercise unfolds, the WTIs are observing, mentoring and taking note of everything so they can give detailed training after the scenario on where the crew succeeded and where there is room to grow.

The exercise being monitored in the dark room is called SWATT, or Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training; and two mid-level lieutenants are leading the helm.

Lt. Damon Goodrich-Houska specializes in anti-submarine/anti- surface warfare (ASW/SUW), and Lt. Ben Olivas specializes in integrated air and missile defense (IAMD). Both are WTIs assigned to Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), and they're entrusted to train the crew of guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) in the Southern California operating area -- leading multiple surface warfare events at sea.

"One of the big things that we are doing is getting deep into the PBED (plan, brief, evaluate, debrief) process," said Goodrich-Houska. "We are leading in-depth debriefs in an environment where the entire watch team is comfortable addressing issues that came up during the exercise. And we are creating an environment where they will continue to do this as they move forward once we depart."

WTIs do not embark ships to observe exercises, take score, and report a passing or failing grade. Their mission is to teach, lead, and give one-on-one training with Sailors while also testing new tactics -- just before a ship goes into its Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX). COMPTUEX is the final exam before a ship's deployment; however, thanks to the WTIs and SWATT, units now receive an underway mid-term.

Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona's Lt. Phillip Neff, warfare systems analyst helped the WTIs interpret key information of each SWATT event through video replay that instantly recalls play-by-play, detailing exactly what happened.

"What you think happened during an exercise is often not what occurred, because systems are not always 100 percent accurate; our replays keep the crew honest and depict the story better," said Neff. "It's important because Sailors are about to deploy and may face potential threats. They need the best training they can get, and if they don't know exactly what happened, then they won't improve."

Chafee surface warfare officers (SWOs) agreed that a higher level of tactical learning is now available -- thanks to the addition of this multifaceted technology and the WTIs' subject matter expertise.

"This was a big learning experience for us after coming out of the [ship] yards," said Lt. j.g. Jeremy Jones, anti-submarine warfare officer aboard Chafee. "The best take away [from SWATT] was the renewed focus on tactics, and actually executing them in real time. I particularly liked the in-depth focus of surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare."

Chafee entered Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in June for routine maintenance repairs and returned to sea in September.

"Bringing back tactics really comes down to ensuring Sailors and combat watch teams aren't afraid to ask questions during SWATT events," said Goodrich-Houska.

Goodrich-Houska isn't the only WTI leading the charge. Thirteen WTIs and more than 20 staffers of SMWDC are underway mentoring combat watch teams aboard guided-missile cruisers USS Princeton (CG 59) and USS Lake Erie (CG 70), USS Shoup (DDG 86), USS Pinckney (DDG 91), and USS Kidd (DDG 100).

"We're getting faster and smarter with surface warfare tactics because of the WTIs," said Cmdr. Brian Fremming, commanding officer of Chafee. "All around, those watch stations in CIC are getting a lot more constructive training done, simply because WTIs are there supplying them constructive feedback."

Even after SWATT adjourns and WTIs depart Chafee, the knowledge and skills that they taught the crew will continue to permeate and maturate throughout the wardroom. WTIs are the surface Navy's new, systemized force multipliers to support maritime superiority and high velocity learning. And the events they led during the first SWATT will prove essential for the crew during COMPTUEX, deployment and any potential threats underway.

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