SMWDC welcomes newest amphibious warfare WTIs to the fleet in Norfolk

Commander, Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) Rear Adm. Dave Welch, center, poses for a photo with graduates of the Amphibious Warfare (AMW) Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) Course of Instruction onboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia. Graduates pictured left to right; Lt. j.g. Rebekkah Ledoux, Lt. Sean Murray, Lt. James Lambert, Lt. Christopher Yee, Lt. Andy Gomez, and Lt. Steven Zappa. SMWDC is one of the Navy's five Warfighting Development Centers and its mission is to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Brianna Frazier/Released)
April 26, 2019

JOINT EXPEDITIONARY BASE LITTLE CREEK-FORT STORY, Va. – Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) welcomed the newest group of Amphibious Warfare (AMW) Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) to the Surface Fleet in a ceremony at SMWDC’s AMW Division, Apr. 26.

SMWDC’s WTI program offers a gateway for well-qualified SWOs to develop deep tactical expertise in AMW, Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), Mine Warfare (MIW) or Anti-Submarine Warfare / Surface Warfare (ASW/SUW).

“You know have greater responsibility to yourself and to the sailors you lead,” said Rear Adm. Dave Welch, commander of SMWDC. “Do not shy away from that responsibility, accept it, and impart your knowledge to the fleet for the betterment of the amphibious community and the Navy as a whole.”

While talking to the graduating class and attendees, Welch also emphasized the impact that the that deliberate development of tactical expertise that SMWDC – along with the Navy’s four other Warfighting Development Centers (WDC) – are bringing to bear in the Navy’s ability to deliver combat power in support of the National Defense Strategy.

The graduating WTIs were the first to earn distinctive AMW WTI patches emblazoned with a gator in 2019, and they did so only after completing a refined Battle Problem as their culminating event of the course. The Battle Problem drove the candidates to synthesize and use all of the knowledge learned during the course to effectively plan AMW operations to achieve a defined mission. One of the ways the WTI candidates test their plan is through a war game. War gaming is a critical step in the Navy Planning Process and allows the students to test the effectiveness of their proposed courses of action (COA), doctrine, and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) against expected adversary COAs.

“The battle problem has continued to evolve over every course of instruction,” said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Petersen. “The execution of the six-step Navy Planning Process, layered with amphibious doctrine and TTP’s allows the students to methodically approach the completion of the mission, and shows them how detailed amphibious planning can be.”

All WTI candidates complete a two-week Instructor and Tactics Course followed by a tailored course of instruction in one of the four Surface Warfare specialty areas. AMW WTI course focuses on the intricacies of sea control and power projection of the Navy and Marine Corps team. Post qualification, WTIs complete a two-year production tour where WTI skills mature in the classroom and at sea during Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercises and other fleet training events.

Production tours are an important part of the WTI experience, and where new WTI cadre are able to take classroom learning and bring it back to the Fleet to provide training, write doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP), provide operational support, and inform future requirements in order to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force. The newly patched AMW WTIs will support these lines of operation through training events which include the Ship Self Defense System (SSDS) simulators at Wallops Island, Virginia, Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) SWATT planning and execution, as well as doctrine and TTP development, reviews, and refinement.

Lt. Christopher Yee was selected as the course’s honor graduate and will report to SMWDC’s headquarters in San Diego to complete his production tour.

“This course has challenged me more than any other Navy course I have attended,” said Yee. “The material covered in the last 15 weeks has opened my eyes to the growing importance of new TTPs in amphibious warfare, and the complexities inherent to our mission. I am excited to take this new knowledge and apply it during my production tour at SMWDC Headquarters.”

Lt. Andy Gomez also received the Iwo Jima Leadership Award for displaying superb leadership qualities throughout the fifteen-week course of instruction.

Applications for the WTI program are taken on a rolling basis. Contact the SMWDC WTI Program Manager at [email protected] for more information, or to request a ship visit by SMWDC’s WTI cadre and senior mentors.

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. SMWDC headquarters is at Naval Base San Diego with four divisions in Virginia and California focused on Sea Combat, Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Amphibious Warfare and Mine Warfare.