Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Cushanick, a Navy reservist and federal civil servant is one of many people who are benefitting from the Surface Fleet’s drive to continuously increase professional development opportunities across the force. Cushanick works at the Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) Basic Division Officer Course (BDOC) detachment San Diego.
On Friday, Jan. 15, 2019, Cushanick became the first Navy Reservist to complete Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center’s (SMWDC) Instructor and Tactics Course (ITC) onboard Naval Base San Diego.
“Continuous learning and professional development are at the core of what we do at SMWDC,” said Rear Adm. Dave Welch, commander of SMWDC. “We are thrilled that we could bring a BDOC instructor into the WTI cadre. It will have a positive impact on the Fleet, not just SMWDC’s lines of operation, but also for each junior officer going through BDOC detachment San Diego.”
Cushanick was first introduced to the WTI program while he was underway as a reservist aboard the Arliegh Burke-class destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) while Cruiser-Destroyer (CRUDES) units assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) conducted a Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercise in 2018.
“The WTIs I worked with aboard Spruance were phenomenal,” said Cushanick. “I was inspired by their work ethic and dedication to coach and mentor the ship’s watch teams, which made me want to pursue the WTI program.”
Cushanick discussed his WTI application with SMWDC’s ITC course manager Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Polnaszek, who saw Cushanick’s potential in the program.
The enrollment process was more involved than Cushanick initially thought because he had to navigate an uncharted path for reservists, but with support from many leaders in the Surface Warfare community, he was accepted into the program.
One advantage for him was his position at BDOC detachment San Diego where he trains and mentors junior Surface Warfare officers on a daily basis. The ability to use his annual training opportunities to get underway with SMWDC’s team to support Fleet training allows him to come back to the classroom having observed the latest in Fleet tactics – a tremendous benefit to the students he sees in the classroom each day. Additionally, the proximity of BDOC to the SMWDC Headquarters and Sea Combat Division on board Naval Base San Diego presents opportunities for increased engagement in an already strong relationship between the commands.
“Selection into the WTI program is competitive and future applicants must make every effort to highlight their previous tactical performance,” said Cushanick. “Detailing an honest narrative of their desire to be in the WTI program is important, but the Commanding Officer’s letter of recommendation is the most important part of the application.”
Cushanick looks forward to taking the knowledge he learns from the WTI program into the classroom to train Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs). He also encourages any reservist looking into the WTI program to submit an application.
“There are a lot of outstanding SWO reservists out there who would be a great fit for the program,” said Cushanick. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, and had people who believed in me, and value the WTI program.”
Following completion of ITC, WTI candidates complete additional schooling at one of four schoolhouses to earn qualification as Amphibious Warfare (AMW), Anti-Submarine/Surface Warfare (ASW/SUW), Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), and Mine Warfare (MIW) Tactics Instructors after which they complete readiness production tours in the Fleet where they support increasing the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains.
SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Forces, and is headquartered at Naval Base San Diego with four divisions in Virginia and California focused on AMW, IAMD, ASW/SUW, and MIW.
Warfare commanders, commanding officers, and leaders throughout the Fleet are highly encouraged to identify top talent to enter the WTI program as part of Surface Force continuous professional development. Commanding officers who wish to leverage WTI training for their top talent, and keep them aboard their ship for a follow-on tour, should review the Accelerated Warfare or Division Officer Sequencing Plan programs available through SMWDC.
Leaders interested in professional development of their crews and increased tactical proficiency of their units should contact SMWDC’s WTI Program Managers directly at SWO_WTI@Navy.mil for more information.