SAN DIEO, Calif. - More than twenty Surface Warfare Officer Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) candidates completed initial instruction – the Instructor and Tactics Course (ITC) - at Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center’s (SMWDC) headquarters May 24.
SMWDC stood up as one of the Navy’s five Warfighting Development Centers in June 2015 to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Fleet. Already, more than 200 qualified WTIs are in readiness production tours or returned to the Fleet after initial qualification as an Anti-Submarine/Surface Warfare (ASW/SUW), Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), or Amphibious Warfare (AMW) WTIs.
“A core principle of high velocity learning is rigorous adherence to standards and processes to achieve objectives,” said Rear Adm. Dave Welch, commander of SMWDC. “ITC provides our staff with time at the onset of WTI instruction to instill standards, and for the candidates to practice to those standards, in an environment that fosters learning and provides immediate, constructive feedback. We want this important, initial phase to carry through in application throughout the remainder of WTI training. One of our guiding principles as an organization is strict adherence to standards - while discouraging the use of tribal myth and folklore - as a basis for action.”
After completing ITC, WTI candidates transition to one of three SMWDC Divisions in Point Loma, Calif., Dahlgren, Va., or Little Creek, Va. to complete qualification as ASW/SUW, IAMD, or AMW WTIs. The ITC course graduates represented each type of WTI qualification, highlighting the need and value of a baseline course for all potential WTIs.
“It’s great to see all the different types of WTI candidates under one roof before they head to their specific schools,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Polnaszek, SMWDC’s Academics Manager. “These first weeks of training set expectations and deliver standards to candidates, and also introduce them to an elite network of naval tacticians that support commanders and watch teams. The strength of the WTI cadre is as much in the team as it is in the individual.”
With more than 200 specialized tacticians in the Fleet; Warfare, Strike Group, and Fleet Commanders have increased capability, lethality, and readiness at their disposal now and in the future. In addition to the tactical capability and expertise they are able to leverage from individual WTIs, the WTI “Warrior, Thinker, Teacher” model of continuous, lifelong learning drives unit, strike group, and Fleet-level lethality as WTIs help build agile and responsive teams throughout the Force. Adherence to standards within the tactical community also lays the groundwork for rapidly increasing and sustainable readiness.
Teamwork within the WTI cadre creates a ripple effect throughout the Surface Force through increases in operator and system performance. For instance, the synchronization of effort between IAMD and AMW WTIs will help the Surface Warfare community maximize performance and capacity of the Ship Self-Defense Systems (SSDS). Similarly, collaboration between IAMD and ASW/SUW WTIs will allow for better use of multi-mission weapons, and optimize high-demand, low-density assets for multiple mission areas. To achieve these goals, WTIs train as a team in order to learn, grow, and, when called upon, fight as a team.
WTIs receive distinctive patches after they graduate from the training pipeline. It is then that most WTIs begin one of a variety of readiness production tours in key training billets. During these assignments, they are able to expound upon and sharpen their expertise through delivery of advanced tactical training, tactics and doctrine, or operational support to the Fleet. The readiness production tour also reinforces the need for each WTI to rely on the strength, wisdom, and expertise of the entire cadre to thoroughly examine and address complex challenges.
“I like to think that when I tap into the support of one WTI,” said Rear Adm. Yvette Davids, Senior Military Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs and a career surface warfare officer who spoke at a recent WTI graduation, “I’m getting the support of 233 of the top tacticians in the Fleet.”
SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and exists to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains.