A Ready, Lethal, and Capable Surface Force: Warfighting Development Centers’ Founder Visits SMWDC
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​Adm. Bill Gortney (ret.), right, speaks with Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) Executive Director Mr. Frank Olmo, left, Commander, SMWDC Rear Adm. Dave Welch, first from left, and other members of the command during a meeting to discuss SMWDC's development since its establishment in 2015. Gortney was the driving force behind the development of Warfighting Development Centers (WDC) in all of the Navy's warfare communities when he was Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. 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)           

(NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO) -- Adm. Bill Gortney (ret.) visited Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) onboard Naval Base San Diego, Mar. 28.

“It was an honor to host Admiral Gortney’s visit with our team,” said SMWDC Commander Rear Adm. Dave Welch. “His vision to develop Warfighting Development Centers akin to Naval aviation’s model across the rest of our warfare communities is having a big impact on the Fleet by helping us to deliver a more lethal Surface Force to our Strike Group and Fleet Commanders.”

During his visit, Gortney received an update on the command’s development along its four lines of operation since its establishment in 2015 to include the development of the surface Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) program. WTIs are a growing cadre of tactically astute junior Surface Warfare Officers supporting advanced tactical training, doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures development, Fleet operational support, and capability assessments, experimentation, and future requirements during production tours at SMWDC and other commands where they help increase Surface Force lethality. Production tours are a WTIs opportunity to refine the skills they learn during a training syllabus that includes training as a trainer and as a tactical expert in one of four warfare areas – Anti-Submarine/Surface Warfare (ASW/SUW), Amphibious Warfare (AMW), Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), or Mine Warfare (MIW).

“To have one of the leaders who was here when WDCs were implemented and who deeply understands the history behind them was a unique, invaluable opportunity for us,” said Welch.

“We were able to have a fully informed conversation about what we have accomplished, what we are doing, and what we plan to do next as a command. Having him ‘red-team’ our ideas in an informal, critical environment led to a rich discussion. It reinforced much of what we are doing as a team, and I am confident we are on the right track toward a sustainable model of transitioning readiness into lethality as we approach full operational capability in the next couple of years. The continued investment by the Navy in the WDC concept is critical to our ability deliver in this era of great power competition. We continue to recruit and attract top talent across the Fleet for the WTI program, and our retention numbers trend high.”

SMWDC is one of five Warfighting Development Centers in the Navy along with Undersea Warfighting Development Center (UWDC), Naval Information Warfare Development Center (NIWDC), Expeditionary Warfighting Development Center (EXWDC), and Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC). The WDC concept across the Fleet is built off of Naval aviation’s model that resulted from the establishment and implementation of United States Navy Fighter Weapons School fifty years ago this month on Mar. 3, 1969. That command later became the Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program - more popularly known as TOPGUN.

SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and exists to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains. SMWDC headquarters is at Naval Base San Diego with four divisions in Virginia and California focused on Sea Combat, Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Amphibious Warfare and Mine Warfare.

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