A “Century” of IAMD Warfare Tactics Instructors
DAHLGREN, VIRGINIA (Dec. 1, 2017) Commander, Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) Rear Adm. John F. G. Wade, left, shakes hands with a graduating Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) during a ceremony at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, Dec. 1. The WTI Course was led by SMWDC's IAMD Division. SMWDC is one of the Navy's five Warfighting Development Centers and its mission is to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Matthew A. Stroup/Released)

When Roman military power dominated Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, their primary instrument was the Roman Legion.

The primary tactical unit of the Legion was called the Century - 100 superbly trained “tactical athletes,” whose level of training and discipline set them apart from their adversaries, and gave Romans an unequaled record of success in combat.

Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) Class 17020 graduated in Dahlgren, Virginia on Dec. 1, 2017, and among their number is the 100th officer to earn and wear the black-and-red IAMD WTI patch, completing the first “Century” of IAMD WTI tactical athletes serving on staffs, schoolhouses and ships around the world in defense of the United States.

Class 17020 is the tenth convening, and the course itself has continuously evolved over the past four and a half years. The IAMD WTI Program is run with support from the Aegis Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) and partners such as the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL). Much like the early days of the Navy’s original Fighter Weapons School (“TOPGUN”), classes were taught in a portable trailer classroom, located in a parking lot in Dahlgren.

TOPGUN stood up in 1969 with a mandate to improve the combat skills of naval aviators fighting in the skies over North Vietnam. To that end, instructors were given great freedom to innovate, first ensuring that their students were “brilliant at the basics” before leading them on to develop deep and specific knowledge of Navy avionics and weapon systems in addition to the flight characteristics, tactics, capabilities and limitations of enemy aircraft. In effect, Top Gun implemented an early version of what the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) calls “High Velocity Learning”- a system based on dynamic discovery, “swarming and solving” problems to find new solutions, sharing new knowledge throughout an organization, and leading by developing capabilities in others.

Even today, TOPGUN graduates are expected to not only be superb combat aviators, they are also expected to be able to teach their exceptional combat skills to others. The IAMD Warfare Tactics Instructor Program is no different, and has consciously followed this model from similar humble beginnings in our own trailer classroom. IAMD WTI Candidates are trained from Day 1 to work together in order to successfully complete the course. They understand that in-depth technical knowledge of every Aegis Baseline, the characteristics of the battlespace in every AOR worldwide, and the weapons, platforms and sensors of our adversaries, is NECESSARY, but not SUFFICIENT for their success in earning the WTI Patch. They each must be able to take “brilliant at the basics” knowledge, and build on it through independent thought in order to enable the key High Velocity Learning process of “dynamic discovery.”

The ability of IAMD WTI candidates and patch wearers to use these skills has directly led to a steady stream of new tactical publications from SMWDC, which both break new ground and mitigate existing tactical challenges. IAMD WTIs have been directly involved in the development, testing and promulgation of clear, concise and relevant tactical documents to include:

  • TM 3-01.3-15 Tactics to Counter the FATEH 110
  • TM 3-01.7-16 Aegis Baseline 9C Core Tactics
  • TM 3-01.1-16 CSG Employment of NIFC-CA
  • TM 3-01.4-16 SeaRAM TTP for FNDF Rota DDGs
  • TM 3-01.9-16 Counter-UAS TTP for the C5F AOR
  • TM 3-01.10-16 Countering Advanced ASCMs in the C6F AOR
  • TM 3-01.1-17 SPY Operations in the Littoral (to include all current Aegis Baselines)
  • TM 3-01.2-17 SSDS Threat Centric Planning
  • TM 3-01.3-17 Aegis Threat Centric Planning
  • TM 3-22.1-17 Combat Flight Quarters
  • TM 3-01.4-17 Deceptive IFF TTP

In the fleet and on the waterfront, IAMD WTIs continue to spearhead High Velocity Learning. Patch wearing lieutenants led installation, testing and training efforts to implement SeaRAM hard-kill capability and Quick Reaction soft-kill capability against advanced cruise missiles for the four DDGs forward deployed to Rota, Spain in support of vital missions in 6th Fleet.

Following Navy combat operations in the Red Sea in October 2016, many of these same officers traveled to the 5th Fleet area of operations to gather technical data and provide essential training in SPY radar management, while developing and implementing the essential elements of Aegis Threat Centric Planning. IAMD WTI lieutenants briefed the results of SWMDC analysis at the highest levels of the Navy, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. Lessons from the Red Sea are already being implemented in Navy Live Fire exercises on both coasts, with IAMD WTIs directly involved to validate the tactical relevance of these events, and to prepare deploying units and staffs.

As Warriors, Thinkers and Teachers, IAMD WTIs live by the principles of High Velocity Learning every day. They are curious, humble, forceful, tactful and credible. By working together to pass a difficult course of instruction, they earn the WTI Patch and in so doing, show that they understand CNO’s intent when he writes “...one clear implication of the current environment is the need for the Navy to prepare for decentralized operations guided by Commander’s Intent. The ability to achieve this end is reliant on the trust and confidence that is based on a clear understanding, among peers and between commanders and subordinates, of the risk that can be tolerated. This trust and confidence is enhanced by our actions, which must reflect our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.”

As of Dec. 1, 2017, the CNO is now able to call upon a “Century” of IAMD Warfare Tactics Instructors, on duty around the world.

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