Defense Media Network

Newest Defense Media Network Promotion

Warfare Tactics Instructors Bring Tactical Skill, Expertise and Capability to Fleet

Rear Adm. John Wade, Commander, Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, explains SMWDC

Courtesy of Surface SITREP, published by the Surface Navy Association (www.navysna.org).

The fleet needs tacticians, and the Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) is delivering them.

“We have strategic direction from our leadership to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the force; we need to rededicate ourselves to achieving and maintaining sea control, and we have to learn faster,” said. Rear Adm. John Wade, commander of SMWDC, speaking at the 2017 SNA West Coast Symposium in July.

“My biggest concern–what keeps me up at night–is that the capacity we need to build is outstripped by fleet demand right now,” Wade said.

SMWDC is training selected junior officers to become Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTIs, pronounced “witties”), in order to establish a cadre of highly-knowledgeable and proficient tacticians in the fleet.

According to Wade, the fleet needs tacticians. “The skill, expertise, and capabilities that WTIs have are in demand by the fleet,” he said. “The capacity we need to build is outstripped by the need right now.”

WTI group sail

Lt. Joven Ernani Dinglasan, center, warfare tactics instructor (WTI) at the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, monitors Lt. Ryan Kelly, left, and Lt. Beux Wedderburen as they operate as the tactical action officer and force tactical action officer during a missile exercise aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52). SMDWC opened June 9, 2015 at Naval Base San Diego and is responsible for increasing the tactical proficiency of the Navy’s surface warfare community through the creation of warfare doctrine, underway advanced-training exercises and WTIs. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ignacio D. Perez

Today there are about 160 graduates, of which about 120 are in waterfront readiness production jobs, such as the Afloat Training Groups, Surface Warfare Officers School, Fleet ASW School, and other training centers. Additionally, there are now 20-plus WTIs out in the fleet, serving as department heads or XOs or in the pipeline to execute those billets. “And that number is going to continue to increase over time,” Wade said.

“My biggest concern–what keeps me up at night–is that the capacity we need to build is outstripped by fleet demand right now,” Wade said. “We have increased our capacity – whether that’s the WTIs, subject matter experts, or support personnel that are helping us do what we need to do to move the football down the field. We don’t have as much capacity as we need, but we are in a better place.”

WTIs are the center of gravity for SMWDC’s four lines of operations: advanced tactical training; doctrine and tactical guidance development; operational support to the fleet; and capabilities assessments, experimentation, and future requirements.

Wade said SMWDC now offers the WTI course of instruction three times a year instead of two, but with fewer students per class so they get more individual attention. “It gives those officers who are interested in applying more flexibility to become a WTI.”

Becoming a WTI is competitive, and the training is challenging. But Wade can’t say enough about those who have earned the patch. “The talent that continues to apply to the WTI program is eye watering.”

WTI group photo

Commander, Naval Surface and Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) Rear Adm. John Wade, center, poses for a photograph with Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) candidates after they completed their initial course of instruction – the Instructor and Tactics Course. Upon completion of the course, students will have to attend and pass advanced tactical training courses to earn WTI designation through one of three SMWDC Divisions – Amphibious Warfare, Sea Combat, or Integrated Air and Missile Defense. SMWDC is one of the Navy’s five Warfare Development Centers and fills an integral role in the Surface Force Strategy: Return to Sea Control. SMWDC’s mission is to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the surface force across all domains. U.S. Navy Photo by Lt. Matthew Stroup

WTIs are the center of gravity for SMWDC’s four lines of operations: advanced tactical training; doctrine and tactical guidance development; operational support to the fleet; and capabilities assessments, experimentation, and future requirements.

SMWDC has adapted a disciplined approach to training and integrated the PBED process used successfully by the aviation and submarine communities into the core of their continuous learning model. PBED stands for Plan, Brief, Execute, and Debrief. Implementing this method of high-velocity learning along all of their lines of operation have yielded operational results that are difficult to overstate. They are also driving a cultural change at the individual, team, and unit-level.

SMWDC uses replay tools on ships during Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) to provide a high-speed learning environment where shipboard teams are provided “ground truth” data to balance what they recollect during a standard debrief process. This allows WTIs supporting SWATT to create an environment where shipboard teams become willing and able to be rigorously self-critical in a training environment to raise their level of performance when they leave the pier for deployment.

“Sea Hunter is introducing new technologies like continuous active sonar. We tested some basic tactics about how we would integrate unmanned afloat sensors and platforms with our surface ships.”

SMWDC works with NSWC Corona and relies on tools created collaboratively to measure results and analyze data to develop new standards and metrics from real-world observation. Using data-driven replay tools, the WTI-led debriefs help identify the failure points, address them immediately, and learn quickly. “That’s one way that our team is helping the fleet improve,” Wade said.

WTI observes

Lt. Lisa Malone, a warfare tactics instructor (WTI) assigned to Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Canter, provides tactical training to officers aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during a group sail training unit exercise with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier strike Group. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Bill M. Sanders

“We’re conducting assessments and experimentation to supports requirements generation. We’re growing capacity here, but not as fast – because this is really looking at problems over the long term, though we are also laser-focused on near-term readiness in case we have to fight tonight,” he said.

Wade said SMWDC also supports the Warfare Improvement Programs (WIP) to consolidate fleet input and push recommendations up to the TYCOM (type commander), and subsequently Pacific Fleet and Fleet Forces to identify gaps and inform resource decisions more effectively. “We just recently conducted an assessment in 7th Fleet where we compared shipboard MCM (mine countermeasures) capability versus aviation MCM and expeditionary MCM capabilities to understand what they do well, and what they don’t, with data that will inform resource decisions as we think about the future fleet design.”

SMWDC is developing tactics and doctrine for the joint environment as well as counter-unmanned systems efforts. “We’re seeing a militarization of unmanned vehicles with lethality to conduct attacks. I don’t think it will be long before we see that capability in the maritime domain.”

Wade said SMWDC recently conducted a SWATT event with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, where it experimented with Sea Hunter, an unmanned surface vessel that has the ability to operate independently to collect information. “Sea Hunter is introducing new technologies like continuous active sonar. We tested some basic tactics about how we would integrate unmanned afloat sensors and platforms with our surface ships.”

“We have to have a sense of urgency,” Wade said. “We can’t assume that the United States Navy can maintain dominance on, above, and below the seas.”

“We are a learning organization,” Wade said. “As we engage with the waterfront, and as we do our training and tactical development, we are learning and applying those lessons.”

We all have a common goal: to be more tactically proficient, more lethal, and to rededicate ourselves to sea control balanced with power projection. Together we will learn faster.

“Material readiness is the foundation of everything that we do in the surface community, and certifications and inspections are important because they hold us to a standard,” said Wade. “We need to make tactical thinking, training and readiness an equal priority, because when placed under stressful and uncertain conditions, the first thing you fall back on is your training and your procedures.”

“We have to have a sense of urgency,” Wade said. “We can’t assume that the United States Navy can maintain dominance on, above, and below the seas. We’re not looking for a fight, but we have to be urgent in our efforts across the entire enterprise, because by getting better and being more tactically efficient, effective, and lethal is a powerful deterrent. Our potential enemies may think twice before taking action, and that will allow diplomatic and political solutions to our challenges across the globe.”

By

Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a senior-level communications professional with more than...


%d bloggers like this: