Navy/Marine Corps Integration in Era of Great Power Competition: Latest Amphibious Warfare Tactics Instructors Join the Fleet
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (Nov. 30, 2018) Rear Adm. Brad Skillman, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2, poses for a group photo with Amphibious Warfare (AMW) Warfare Tactics Instructor course graduates onboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) is headquartered in San Diego and has four divisions located in California and Virginia focused on Integrated Air and Missile Defense, AMW, Surface Anti-Submarine Warfare, and Mine Warfare. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Brianna Frazier/released)

Six Amphibious Warfare (AMW) Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) candidates completed the AMW WTI course of instruction Nov. 30, earning their WTI patches and joining an ever growing cadre of top tacticians across the Surface Fleet.

Rear Adm. Brad Skillman, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2, addressed the students during the graduation ceremony, highlighting the importance of tactical expertise in an Era of Great Power Competition.

“I recently returned from Trident Juncture 18 where the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group worked closely with our NATO allies and partners,” said Skillman. “The maritime threats we face as a nation and as a coalition are very real. I cannot stress enough to each of you that much of our strategic success is dependent on performance at the tactical level, and this milestone in your career marks the starting point where you become the Fleet’s elite tacticians.”

The completion of AMW WTI Course 18-3 marks the seventh graduating class of AMW WTIs since the inception of the program in 2016. The course is designed to increase the doctrinal knowledge and tactical proficiency of the well-qualified SWOs that are selected for the program.

Each of the new graduates will complete production tours where many of them will support SMWDC’s four lines of effort- advanced tactical training, doctrine and tactical guidance development, operational support, capability assessments, and experimentation and future requirements - through events such as Ship Self Defense System (SSDS) simulators at Wallops Island, VA; advanced tactical training underway; as well as doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) reviews.

Among AMW WTI class 18-3’s graduates was Maj. Karl Kurbikoff, the second Marine Corps officer to attend the AMW WTI course of instruction. SMWDC AMW Division has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic (EWTGLANT) for training and support, fostering the transfer of tactical level knowledge in the classroom.

Kurbikoff will use his new skillset as he completes his instructor tour at EWTGLANT, and subsequently returns to the fleet. He was also the recipient of the Iwo Jima Leadership Award, a peer-selected honor that reflects superior leadership qualities displayed throughout the fifteen-week course.

“This was an incredible opportunity to improve my knowledge of the Navy’s amphibious capability. I now have a greater understanding of shipboard TTP and the Navy specific processes for amphibious operations, which will allow me to be a better instructor. Most importantly, I now have a better understanding of the effort needed for seamless Navy-Marine Corps integration in the fleet,” said Kurbikoff.

There are now more than 50 AMW WTIs in the surface fleet under SMWDC’s purview, adding tactical and doctrinal expertise to afloat ships and staffs. Interested leaders and SWOs can get more information about the Warfare Tactics Instructor program at

SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, U.S. Naval Surface Forces, and is headquartered at Naval Base San Diego, with four divisions in Virginia and California focused on IAMD, ASW/SUW, Mine Warfare, and Amphibious Warfare.

ESG-2 provides oversight and management of three amphibious squadrons, a naval beach group, 13 amphibious ships and two tactical air control squadrons, totaling more than 11,000 Sailors and Marines, with the capacity to embark an additional 14,000 Marines.


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