Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
 
1/1/2016
Providing the Training and Education Foundation
That Supports Distributed Lethality

Within the past two years the Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) has completed implementation of a comprehensive professional training continuum for the Surface Warfare Officer community. Surface Warfare Officers now attend formal schoolhouse training at SWOS prior to every milestone sea tour from first tour division officer through major command. Beyond this, SWOS has worked in collaboration with the Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) and the Navy Surface and Mine Warfare Development Center (NSWDC) with guidance from community leadership to refine and expand this block approach to build competence and confidence among our Officers. Work is by no means complete. Initiatives to expand billet specialty training, introduce Warfare Tactics Instructors to the podium, overhaul warfare doctrine, improve SWO recruiting and retention, and increase selectivity in the department head screening process offer great promise for continued improvement. SWOS must continue to adapt to keep pace with these initiatives.

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The SWO training continuum and building block approach enables our community to initially develop and later hone the knowledge and skills necessary in our profession. The seed is planted at the Basic Division Officer Course (BDOC), taught in Norfolk and San Diego. The entire focus of this eight week course is to set up Ensigns for success during their initial sea tour. They are taught division officer management, leadership, shiphandling and navigation, maritime warfare, and material readiness fundamentals. The goal is for Ensigns to quickly assimilate to their ship and first tour assignments, and enable them to qualify as Surface Warfare Officers. Budget plans are in place to add a ninth week to BDOC in Fiscal Year 2017. This solid foundation is reinforced during the Advanced Division Officer Course (ADOC), a four week course taught in Newport prior to a conventional SWO’s second division officer tour. (Nuclear Power SWOs proceed to prototype training and their first nuclear tour.) ADOC is not a billet specialty course; it is our community’s commitment to continued professional development. ADOC bolsters and deepens the fundamental SWO knowledge in our Division Officers and helps reinvigorate basic SWO Core Competencies that are universal in our profession. Budget plans are in place to add a fifth week to ADOC in Fiscal Year 2017. In addition to these SWOS courses, junior officers may also receive billet specialty training for their specific first or second division officer assignment. This block approach provides our Division Officers with the right training at the right time, and provides them with the confidence and competence to perform their duties.

 

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Fleet feedback has been very positive for both of these courses, and we have already reached the point where every ADOC student is a BDOC product. This trend will continue and in approximately three to four years, every Department Head School student will be a BDOC and ADOC graduate. With a solid foundation now in place, the Surface community is better postured to develop an Officer Corps which possesses more technical and increased tactical proficiency as they return to SWOS for the Department Head Course and ultimately return to sea in pivotal roles as Department Heads. SWOS must be prepared with a revised and improved Department Head curriculum to match this trend. SWOS will take advantage of Warfighting Tactics Instructors (WTIs) filling “production billets” at SWOS and will maximize post Commander Command talent assigned to SWOS to ensure wholeness and relevance of material within each warfare domain. In the next few years we plan to introduce a nuanced shift in our approach to training officers, and a greater understanding of foundational material will be expected of individual students. In other words, the SWOS department head course and command courses will provide more assigned reading and will assume an increased level of understanding of Navy instructions, capabilities and limitations. The course itself will increase in complexity with a drive to a long term goal of producing officers at the command level who have mastered SWO core competencies: warfighters, tacticians, leaders, ship-drivers, and material readiness and personnel managers.

This comprehensive training continuum has been built with the end-state goal in mind of elevating our community’s warfighting capability through advanced tactical thought and execution using the latest technology and the most qualified instructors in the schoolhouse. We must produce commanding officers who are wholly grounded in advanced warfighting and tactics; this represents a return to our roots, with the CO as the ship’s number one warfighter. Raising the bar, particularly at the junior levels, has forced SWOS to re-evaluate how we train at mid-grade and senior levels in order to improve upon the skills that our current junior officers have developed. As we move forward, we must retain an agile, innovative and relevant training organization, that relies upon improved, detailed curriculum and learning initiatives that produces competent warfighters. This requires SWOS to evolve the current curriculum, support a wide array of individual learning strategies, and better utilize specific and targeted application of technology.

Short term improvements include infusing elements of cyber security across the training continuum as well as developing and leveraging curriculum in support of the Planning and Tactics Officer. As a community, we must build shipboard Subject Matter Experts on the Navy’s Operational Planning Process, and must weave the principles of Plan-Brief-Execute-Debrief (PBED) into every aspect of formal training. This will enable ships to have a mature deliberate planning process and solid tactical training program.

We must continue to strive for the right balance of learning strategies. Today the preponderance officer curriculums are instructor-led training. While this training has its place, we realize that it is only one way that an individual learns. SWOS continues to shift towards a blended solution that combines required reading, computer based training, instructor lead training, specific and targeted application of intelligent tutoring systems, practical exercises, facilitated discussions, high-fidelity physics based simulations, practical assessments and examinations. Our goal is to provide a learning environment that supports a myriad of individual learning strategies that builds and then maintains a relevant foundation of SWO warfighting excellence.

Training and education must continue to evolve to ensure they provide relevant material, prepare officers for the challenging assignments afloat, and maintain the core competencies of our community. A center piece of distributed lethality requires that we shift away from the decades old SWO paradigm of purely defensive operations. In order to act offensively, we must have a solid educational foundation that enables all SWOs to not just understand tactics and doctrine, but to be able to plan effectively and think tactically. Surface Warfare Magazine

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