Amphibious WTI
My First Gator Exercise as a Warfare Tactics Instructor

I have always had an interest in Amphibious Warfare- it is so dynamic and interdependent. It is arguably the most complex warfare area in the Navy as you work with Sailors and Marines. When I heard about the Amphibious Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) program, I didn’t hesitate to apply.  I wanted to be a part of something new, and was excited for the opportunity to specialize in a field that I am passionate about. I graduated from the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center’s (SMWDC) first Amphibious WTI class in Little Creek, Virginia, May 26, 2016. As a new WTI, I provide warfare doctrinal guidance and mentorship to underway watch teams during amphibious exercises. I also provide guidance during Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Marine Expeditionary Unit work up cycles, and provide feedback during doctrinal reviews to help ensure all amphibious warfare doctrine remains current and relevant. I had no idea my new WTI skillset would soon be battle tested at sea for a major Navy exercise. That exercise was Bold Alligator (BA 16) 2016 and it was my first exercise post-graduation where the mission was to primarily train Expeditionary Strike Group Two WTI(ESG-2) and the Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2MEB). My task was to execute as Battle Watch Captain (BWC) aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5) where I led a team of watch standers in ship-to-shore evolutions, enemy air and surface engagements, small boat escorts and Naval Surface Fire Support to protect Sailors and Marines at sea and ashore. The BWC is a tactical watch stander that functions as the representative for the Composite Warfare Commander of the ARG. This position has direct access to the admiral and acts on their behalf for permissions and orders regarding all warfare areas under the admiral’s purview. It was intense and intimidating at first. However, I was well received and trusted as the subject matter expert by both the ESG-2 staff and crew of Bataan. Sailors and Marines onboard were receptive to my guidance, whether in my role as BWC or during my time off on the watch floor as a tactical mentor.

I am humbled that the Navy utilized me at the lieutenant level as the go-to person for amphibious doctrine and tactics in BA 16. I’m proud that the WTI program is taken seriously by Navy leadership. WTIs are in high demand in the fleet because we raise the tactical proficiency of units, combat watch teams and ARGs. There are only 9 of us Amphibious WTIs in the Navy, yet 12 more are set to graduate October 2016 from SMWDC. And as the WTI program grows, we will be able to provide a service to the ‘Gator’ Navy unlike any that has existed before; junior surface warfare officers are laying the framework for the future -- thanks to SMWDC’s cultural reinvestment in tactics, training, doctrine and most of all -- people.

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