Six Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) candidates completed the Amphibious Warfare (AMW) WTI qualification course on April 23rd, and joined the growing team of Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) WTIs across the Surface Force.
AMW WTIs are warfighting experts in one of four surface warfare areas, and they are joined in the WTI cadre with other warfare area WTIs – Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), Mine Warfare (MIW), and Anti-Submarine Warfare/Surface Warfare (ASW/SUW).
Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, commander of Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), connected with the graduates using video teleconference where he delivered remarks, offered congratulations, and answered questions. The graduation ceremony was held onboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft. Story at SMWDC’s AMW Division. Robertson spoke to the significance of this training, and the importance of life-long learning as they continue to hone their warfighting skills in WTI production tours.
“Much like when you completed your Surface Warfare Officer qualification, there is still much to be learned” said Robertson. “Each of you needs to think critically about how we can continue to improve warfighting lethality, and as you develop the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) for the Fleet, make sure you are considering the operational environment, potential system limitations, as well as second and third order effects.”
After earning qualification, WTIs complete a production tour, where they bring their skills to bear through providing advanced tactical training, developing tactics and doctrine, providing operational support, and crafting capability assessments.
Following all guidelines for reducing the spread of COVID-19, SMWDC conducted the WTI graduation ceremony with the minimum number of personnel, and maintained social distancing.
The newest AMW WTIs – Lt. Cmdr. Cody Gates, Lt. Cmdr. Alban Dervishi, Lt. Cmdr. Johnathan Paiz, Lt. Andrea Villanueva, and from the U.S. Marine Corps – Lt. Col. Lucas Balke, and Capt. Kevin Vanous. Paiz was selected as the class Honor Graduate for academic excellence, and Vanous was presented the Iwo Jima Leadership award – selected by his peers for superb leadership qualities displayed throughout the fifteen-week course.
The 15-week AMW WTI course of instruction is focused on all aspects of AMW. Students apply amphibious doctrine and TTPs during the course through student-led briefings, practical applications, and open forum discussions. Students exercise tactics in synthetic training evolutions conducted at the CSCS SSDS trainer onboard Wallops Island, and one-on-one immersion training with Marine Corps personnel from each element of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force onboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. The immersive experience teaches students to plan and execute missions across the range of military operations with their Marine Corps counterparts – a crucial element of AMW mission success.
These six graduates completed a revamped Capstone process consisting of a comprehensive final exam, paired with an in-depth oral board that tests the knowledge of each WTI candidate following the operational planning team-centric Battle Problem. Students demonstrate their synthesis of the course material on an individual level, reinforcing their confidence and abilities before they return to the Fleet.
WTIs are a key element of accomplishing SMWDC’s mission. Through a range of operations from updating doctrine and TTP, to providing training ashore and afloat during Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) events and similar exercises, WTIs are shaping doctrine and its implementation in the fleet.
SWOs interested in professional growth and development with opportunities to increase the Fleet’s readiness and lethality can email the WTI program managers at [email protected]
SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. SMWDC headquarters is located onboard Naval Base San Diego and has four divisions located in Virginia and California focused on AMW, MIW, ASW/SUW, and IAMD.