Defense Media Network

An Interview with Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski



Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski is a native of Wilmington, Delaware. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1985. He completed a Master of Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy at Joint Advanced Warfighting School.

Szymanski’s previous Naval Special Warfare and operational assignments include platoon and task unit commander at SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2. He served as troop and squadron commander and as operations officer and deputy commanding officer at Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He commanded Special Boat Unit 26, SEAL Team 2, O6-level Joint Task Force in Afghanistan and Naval Special Warfare Group 2. He served as deputy commanding general sustainment to Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan/NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan.

Szymanski served as assistant commanding general to Joint Special Operations Command prior to assuming command of Naval Special Warfare Command.

Szymanski’s previous staff assignments include officer community Manager for NSW and enlisted community manager for SEALs, Navy Divers, EOD Technicians and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen. He served on the Joint Staff as the J3 deputy directorate for Special Operations as the Global War on Terror branch chief and as chief staff officer of Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell.

Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski

Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command.

Special Operations Outlook: Can you talk a bit about NSW support to the National Defense Strategy (NDS) and the Navy’s Maritime Strategy? How is NSW support changing in light of a post-9/11 transitioning battlespace?

Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski: The National Defense Strategy adeptly describes the environment and issues impacting national security and security around the globe. In the NDS, Secretary of Defense James Mattis charged DOD [the Department of Defense] with developing a more joint force structure while becoming more agile, lethal, and innovative. The Chief of Naval Operations, in turn, laid out the maritime responsibilities articulated in the NDS, focusing on increasing naval power through balancing capability and capacity with readiness and sustainment. As the maritime component to U.S. Special Operations Command and the special operations force of the U.S. Navy, Naval Special Warfare is aligned with and moving out to support these defense strategies.

With a global presence operating in more than 35 countries on any given day, we provide significant and effective impacts. Networked with U.S. Navy and joint forces, other government agencies, allies, and foreign partners, we execute missions in support of USSOCOM [U.S. Special Operations Command], Navy, and fleet and geographic combatant commanders. We support achieving national objectives across a full range of diplomatic and operational environments.

SEAL free fall operations Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski

U.S. Navy Sea, Air, and Land team members conduct military free fall operations flying aboard a U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130 Talon II flown by the 19th Special Operations Squadron during Trident 17 on Hurlburt Field, Florida, May 3, 2017. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY TECH. SGT. GREGORY BROOK

After 16 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, we are focusing on our capabilities as the maritime component to Special Operations, exploring opportunities for increased integration and interoperability, and building capabilities and capacity with fleet, submarine, aviation, and cyber forces. For example, we recently collaborated with the Naval Postgraduate School to conduct a maritime, multi-threat experiment in Southern California. The exercise allowed us to explore realistic future scenarios including SOF (special operations forces) application and integration of unmanned systems in a multi-domain (sea, air, and land) environment. Teaming with the Navy, we learned a great deal collectively and advanced our way of thinking about NSW’s niche application of artificial intelligence (AI) and human-machine teaming in current and future operational environments.

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