DAHLGREN, Va. (NNS) -- Seven Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) qualified as Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTIs) and joined the growing base of top tacticians in the Surface Fleet during a graduation ceremony at Aegis Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) in Dahlgren, Va., on May 21, 2020.
These new graduates join the WTI cadre, warfighting experts in one of four surface warfare areas - IAMD, Anti-Submarine Warfare/Surface Warfare (ASW/SUW), Amphibious Warfare (AMW), and Mine Warfare (MIW).
Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center’s (SMWDC’s) IAMD Division develpos top-talent junior SWOs into IAMD WTIs through 15-weeks of rigorous training that includes classroom instruction with ATRC, tactical training, mission planning, and on-site visits with the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC) and various Army and Air Force commands. SMWDC’s IAMD WTI program focuses on the Navy’s most cutting-edge tactics and technologies in the air defense domain, and within the BMD mission set. WTIs each have a specific research “focus area” to start them on the path to becoming a subject matter expert on that particular topic. “You should be proud of what you have accomplished, but your work, the reason you came here, is just starting,” said the ceremony guest speaker – Rear Adm. Tom Druggan, Program Executive, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), Missile Defense Agency. “Navy’s Surface Warriors can now fight at the network level with Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air and Aegis BMD Engage-on-Remote tracks. It is your charge to raise the abilities of our operators to take advantage of this new warfighting capability.
Fighting at the network level brings new battlespace, new capabilities, and new resilience. It is time for you … to lead and develop the combat teams on each of your ships, so that the U.S. Navy can fight and win, anywhere in the world, in an era of great power competition.”
After earning qualification, WTIs complete a production tour, where they bring their skills to the Fleet providing advanced tactical training, developing tactics and doctrine, providing operational support, and crafting capability assessments.
The newest graduates – Lt. Cmdr. Matt Biggerstaff, Lt. Cmdr. Ben Elzner, Lt. j.g. Rob Brown, Lt. Tia Cooke, Lt. j.g. Jack Beaver, Lt. j.g. Adam Sippel, and Lt. Pierre Connor – will report to tours with SMWDC’s IAMD Division located at Dahlgren, Va.; USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) forward deployed to Rota, Spain; NAWDC located in Fallon, Nev.; and USS Mahan (DDG 72) and USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) both located in Norfolk, Va.
WTIs – a new generation of expert surface warfare tacticians – are a key element of accomplishing SMWDC’s mission. Through a range of operations from updating doctrine and TTP, to providing training ashore and afloat during Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) events and similar exercises, WTIs are shaping doctrine and its implementation in the fleet. WTIs are developing Combat Ready Warships and Battle-Minded Crews through SMWDC’s advanced tactical training exercises and returning to the Fleet as force-multipliers for their watch teams. The IAMD WTI cadre develops and delivers a series of complex Air Defense Exercises during SWATT exercises that test the mettle of Sailors and systems to ensure readiness across all advanced warfare fighting capabilities.
SWOs interested in professional growth and development with opportunities to increase the Fleet’s readiness and lethality can email the WTI program managers at SWO_WTI@navy.mil
SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. SMWDC headquarters is located onboard Naval Base San Diego and has four divisions located in Virginia and California focused on IAMD, ASW/SUW, MIW, and AMW.