LITTLE CREEK, Va. (NNS) --- Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) and the Surface Navy Association, will host a panel luncheon Feb. 15 for junior surface warfare officers (SWO). The 90-minute lunch and panel discussion is a recruiting tool for the new Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) Program. Led by four WTIs, the event is set for 11:30 a.m., at Naval Station Norfolk’s Vista Point Conference Center. WTIs, Lt. Dan Hildenbrand, Lt. Kaila Julia, Lt. Matt Kesler, and Lt. Chris Murphy will headline the luncheon to educate and attract the SWO community’s top innovative and creative tactical minds.
First established in 2015 at Naval Base San Diego, SMWDC was designed to enhance fleet warfighting capabilities and readiness across theater, operational and tactical levels of war. The new command increases the tactical proficiency of the surface Navy at three levels: sailors, ships and strike groups. SMWDC courses of instruction include anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare, integrated air and missile defense and amphibious warfare.
Led by Rear Adm. John Wade, SMWDC trains junior officers in graduate-level tactical training and development. Some of the intensive coursework covers: mission planning, over-the-horizon- targeting, doctrine development, joint maritime tactics and fleet immersions where lessons are punctuated by integrating future WTIs with Marines at Camp Lejeune and pilots at the Naval Air Warfighting Development Center in Fallon, Nevada.
"The first word that comes to mind is intense; with a new set of standards and a high level of rigor that I have not seen in other naval classrooms," said Lt. Elyse Mielnik, Anti-submarine/Anti-Surface WTI assigned to SMWDC, in describing the training. "The idea of being taught lieutenant-to-lieutenant opens up a new line of communications. It is an environment where you are encouraged to ask questions and think tactically."
The classroom experience provides students with in-depth training including lectures, lab work and access to a computer-based Multi-Mission Team Trainer, allowing students to gain an enormous amount of practical application scenarios as single ships or surface action groups.
"I have always had an interest in amphibious warfare," said Lt. Brianna Frazier, Amphibious WTI assigned to SMWDC. "I had no idea my new WTI skillset would soon be battle tested at sea for a major Navy exercise."
As a May 2016 graduate of SMWDC Amphibious WTI class, Frazier's skills were soon utilized in the exercise Bold Alligator 16 which incorporated the training of Expeditionary Strike Group 2 (ESG 2) and the Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
Upon completion of the WTI program, junior officers are expected to act as tactical force multipliers for their ships, staffs and squadrons by systematically applying a warfighting standard in support of maintaining maritime superiority.
Frazier was the Battle Watch Captain aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5) where she led a team of watch standers in ship-to-shore evolutions, enemy air and surface engagement, small boat escorts and Naval Surface Fire Support to protect Sailors and Marines at sea and ashore.
"I was well received and trusted as the subject matter expert by the ESG 2 staff and crew aboard the USS Bataan (LHD 5) and the Marines and Sailors were receptive to my guidance and tactical mentorship," said Frazier. "I'm humbled that the Navy utilized me at the lieutenant level as the go-to person for amphibious doctrine and tactics during exercise Bold Alligator 16 and proud of the Navy leadership supporting the WTI program."
"This is an exciting time to be a SWO" said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Cox, WTI program manager at SMWDC. "This high-velocity learning welcomes new warfighting cultures of tactical excellence by design and supplies the fleet with a network of WTI multipliers who will have an exponential impact on the tactical readiness of the Surface Force."
There are 125 WTIs in the fleet across the three disciplines, with 42 more slated to graduate spring 2017. These new generation surface warfighters are the best of the best in tactics and doctrine, and are systematically increasing the tactical acumen of the surface force, in support of sea control and maintaining maritime superiority. They are best identified by their red and black patches as they carry out the WTI ethos: "Warriors, Thinkers and Teachers."
For more news on the WTI program, visit Commander, Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center.
For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/surflant/.