I first heard about the Navy’s Warfare Tactics Instructor program (WTI) in 2015, while the program was still in its infancy. I’d heard rumors of this new graduate level training in tactics that enabled young surface warfare officers (SWO) to learn, and teach cutting-edge tactical development and advanced training to the Surface Fleet. At the time I was an Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer (ASWO). I wanted to join the WTI alumni to better serve the community by mentoring and coaching junior SWOs at sea and in the class room. However I faced a dilemma. I was up for orders and I wanted a master’s degree from Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), yet also wanted to join the new Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) to become a WTI. I chose SMWDC and put my graduate school goal on hold. However upon check-in, I found several WTI students simultaneously pursing a graduate degree with NPS through distance learning – so I did the same.
I am currently studying Systems Analysis at NPS, along with my ASW Certificate. Both will help me with my professional area of expertise, which is sonar systems. I have taken classes in statistics; simulation and modeling; and naval tactical analysis. As a WTI, I assist in the review of new execution of tactics. And if there is a challenge, I am able to use my training from my NPS distance learning program to find the best solution.
I feel fortunate to have a chain of command at SMWDC that supports my intensive academic workload. And although I am busy balancing my professional and personal goals, my satisfaction stems from witnessing amazing ship’s crews become more lethal and proficient after we (WTIs) refine their tactical methods and approach. Whether I am teaching on ships, or in SMWDC’s classrooms; I am most proud to see Advanced-ASWO graduates take what they’ve learned back to their ships and become force multipliers. I see that same academic permeation with our new WTI graduates as they implement high velocity learning in the fleet. I honestly enjoy what I do -- knowing I made the right decision becoming a graduate student and a subject matter expert. Thanks to my infused WTI and NPS education, I now have competence and confidence to educate my fellow surface warriors in what really matters: tactics and training.
Editor’s note: Lu was one of the first SWOs to graduate SMWDC’s intensive Anti-Submarine/Ant-Surface WTI course in San Diego. WTIs are a cadre of tactically-advanced junior SWOs who are charged with systematically increasing the tactical proficiency of the Surface Fleet, in support of sea control and maintaining maritime superiority. WTIs stem from three individual disciplines: integrated air and missile defense; amphibious warfare; and anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare. WTI courses commence biannually across all three disciplines in January and July in San Diego and Virginia. For more details, visit: http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/nsmwdc/Pages/Home.aspx