Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
 
Voices From the Fleet

 Following a recent trip to Guam, Japan and New Zealand, I ran into a co-worker in the hallway of our San Diego office at the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) where I work as a Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI).

As he welcomed me back with a smile he said, “We should just scrapbook your last few months of Facebook posts for our WTI roadshow presentations!”

Later that day, as I looked at the pictures from my trip I realized he was right. My WTI production tour at SMWDCs Sea Combat Division has allowed me to travel to some pretty amazing places - Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Guam, Washington, D.C. and Hawaii. A production tour is a WTI’s chance to bring what we learn in the training pipeline to the warfighter in a substantive way.

During that trip, I provided advanced tactical training and capability assessments, experimentation and future requirements around the world. In New Zealand, I supported the Maritime Warfare Centers Forum (MWCF) at Devonport Naval Base, which brought together five allied nations - the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - to improve our maritime interoperability and combat effectiveness. In Guam and Japan, I provided training and helped plan exercises for the Ship Anti-Submarine Warfare Readiness/Effectiveness Measuring (SHAREM) program.

Being the day-to-day manager of SHAREM is one of my favorite duties at SMWDC. SHAREM identifies and develops solutions to tactical problems, informs future SONAR requirements for the Fleet, collects and analyzes high quality data to improve the effective employment of weapons and sensors and, ultimately, improves overall surface ship ASW readiness and effectiveness. It’s an interesting program which has run for 48 years, operates out of several Numbered Fleet commands, and recently started incorporating WTIs for support. I help the cadre of civilians who plan the exercises, observe events, and provide feedback to both the ships and SMWDC. The opportunity to influence a major program that has been occurring for nearly half a century is one of the things that make being a WTI fun and rewarding for me.

While my fellow WTIs and I are busy when we’re on travel, we usually have enough downtime to explore and reconnect with old friends and shipmates. For me, the WTI program has mirrored the well-known Navy marketing campaign, “Join the Navy- See the World!”

 

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The rest of the Navy has started to learn about what we do at SMWDC, and the demand for WTI support around the world has increased. And while travel and global experiences has been an amazing perk of the WTI program for me, it can also make it a tough sell for potential WTI applicants.

While WTIs do spend a fair amount time traveling or deployed at sea, we don’t have to deal with the standard underway routines of staff meetings and watch schedules that ship’s company does. We do provide wardroom and on-station trainings in their combat information centers, keep underway training events on track, provide reachback support to school houses and our HQ to provide up-to-date guidance to the fleet, and lead watch team debriefs to increase watch team effectiveness.

Even when I’m back at the office in San Diego, I keep a pretty busy schedule. I often help plan conferences, finalize travel plans, attend internal briefings to stay up to speed with ongoing changes from fleet events, visit wardrooms on the waterfront, and participate in working groups.

Yes, being a WTI is a demanding job. But, without question, my decision to apply to be a WTI has been completely worth it. I have the ability to make an impact as a lieutenant that I wouldn’t get in any other position in the Navy. Underway, I am asked to review battle orders for accuracy and give tactically relevant training to warfighters. I lead debriefs which spark discussion about tactics and improve watchstanding. In-port, I help guide working groups among U.S. Navy stakeholders and foreign allies on advanced tactics. Experiences like these will only benefit both me and the Navy when I take on positions of greater responsibility in the future.

Sure, I’ve checked off a few bucket-list destinations while performing my WTI duties, but the most rewarding aspect of the job is getting to work with some of the best officers I’ve met during my time in the Navy and together we are directly increasing the lethality of the fleet - a pairing you’ll only find at SMWDC. Surface Warfare Magazine

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