(NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO) Commander, U.S. Second Fleet Vice Adm. Andrew L. “Woody” Lewis met with senior leaders and Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) at Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) headquarters to receive an update on the command’s lines of operations, and to discuss the strategic importance of the command’s mission in an era of great power competition, Oct. 22. SMWDC’s mission is to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Fleet across all domains.
“There’s no such thing as a game day player,” said Lewis. “The best you’re going to do in combat is to perform at your highest level of training achieved – bottom line. If you don’t train to a high-level, you’re going to perform poorly in combat.”
During the visit to SMWDC, Lewis received a briefing on SMWDC’s progress along its four lines of operation since the command’s establishment in 2015 already leading to visible cultural changes in the Fleet. Specifically, they discussed advances in watch team and Warfare Commander training through Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercises, the contributions of WTIs to the Fleet through training, doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) development, and the command’s operational support efforts including the command’s recent recertification as the Theater Mine Warfare Commander. In addition to leading the surface fleet’s warfighting development, Commander, SMWDC Rear Adm. Dave Welch, also serves as the Navy’s Global Mine Warfare Commander.
“One of the challenges of cultural change – and we faced the same thing in the aviation community - is that there are always those senior folks around who don’t want to hear from a bunch of youngsters about how they could improve,” said Lewis. “But the truth is that real leaders continue to learn, grow, and get better.”
Rear Adm. John Mustin, deputy commander of U.S. Second Fleet and deputy commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic joined Lewis on his visit. Mustin has been an ardent supporter of SMWDC since its establishment, advocating for the integration of reserve forces into SMWDC’s mission.
“The results of SMWDC’s efforts are being recognized by Fleet Commanders, and the demand signal for their service is incredibly high,” said Mustin. “The establishment of SMWDC’s reserve component allows the Navy to retain the service of highly-trained, tactical experts by providing support to a critical warfighting area.”
To develop a tactically astute cadre of WTIs in the Fleet, SMWDC provides recently qualified WTIs opportunities for additional practical experience through readiness production tours. During these tours, candidates provide advanced tactical training to the Fleet in a combination of classroom, synthetic, and underway training, update, write, and test doctrine and TTP, and provide direct operational support to Fleet commanders before returning to traditional career paths.
“Warfare Commanders, Expeditionary Strike Group, and Carrier Strike Group Commanders receiving benefit from SMWDC’s operations aren’t limited to one coast,” said Capt. Christopher Barnes, deputy commander of SMWDC. “The demand for our services is incredibly high, and to meet demand, we’re always looking for top talent willing to take on the challenge of becoming one of the top tacticians in the Fleet. Sea Control is a huge part of owning the fight, and the young men and women we train have been, and will continue to be, a central element keeping the U.S. at the forefront of the ongoing competition for Naval superiority.”
SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. 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.