Akin to TOPGUN for the Navy’s best aviators, SMWDC is charged with increasing the tactical proficiency of the Surface Fleet by selecting an elite cadre of Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) to become Surface WTIs – the tactical best of the best. WTIs come from three Surface Warfare communities: integrated air and missile defense, amphibious warfare, or anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare. They’re best identified in the fleet by their red and black patches.
Under Kilby’s strategic vision, 84 SWOs graduated from SMWDC’s intensive 3-5 month WTI courses in Virginia and San Diego. And graduates have quickly become tactical force multipliers in the fleet by leading advanced Missile and Surface Warfare exercises, mentoring combat watch teams on cruisers and destroyers, and writing and updating warfare doctrine. Since opening, SMWDC WTIs have “rewritten and revised 19 tactical publications” Kilby said.
“For the commanding officers in the crowd, I need you to continue to beat this drum and have your best young officers apply for the WTI program,” said Kilby. “We’re recruiting and investing in our youth. Remember, we don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.”
WTIs also led SMWDC’s pilot Surface Warfare Advance Tactical Training (SWATT) -- a three-week exercise inserted between a ship’s basic phase and its Composite Training Unite Exercise. This effort tactically prepares cruisers, destroyers and amphibious ships for deployment. Kilby’s staff successfully led two bicoastal trial SWATTs with the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group in 2015 and Destroyer Squadron 26 in 2016.
Operationally, SMWDC led the Mine Counter Measures (MCM) operations for Vigilant Shield 2015 in the Southern California (SOCAL) operating area, and integrated with the Republic of Korea Navy during the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise in 2015.
Kilby also led as the operational Commander for the SOCAL portion of the Navy’s largest multinational exercise, Rim of Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016. Kilby and his Mine Warfare Division, Commander Task Force 177, integrated with six partner nations and 24 units to form an international cohesive coalition that successfully disposed of 77 inert mines near SOCAL military installations.
As SMWDC’s first commanding officer, he conducted more than 80 ship visits to spread the tactical gospel of the new command and how it benefits junior SWOs. He met with congressional leadership. He me with Secretary of Defense, Dr. Ash Carter, two consecutive Chiefs of Naval Operations and multiple foreign-allied leaders to increase international command partnerships.
His successor, Wade comes from Commander, Naval Surface Force, and U.S. Pacific Fleet as the former chief of staff. He is only the second admiral to lead SMWDC.
“I thank Jim for establishing SMWDC and setting the standard; I’m ready to get to work,” said Wade. “Jim, you brought SMWDC to life. You’ve taken an idea and a vision and made it a reality. And I promise as the new commander to give it my all and take the football down the field. Everything we do is focused on our ships and our Sailors to ensure they have the confidence and competence to employ their weapons systems to fight and win if called upon.”