DAHLGREN, Va. --- Twenty officers graduated from Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center's (SMWDC) Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) course during a ceremony held at the Aegis Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, Dec. 1.
The event marked a significant milestone as it brought the total number of IAMD WTIs to more than 100 patched officers in the Fleet, since the course's inception in 2013.
"It's a great program and I'm not just saying that," said Lt. Melissa Avidano, a newly-patched WTI who will complete her production tour at the IAMD Division following graduation. "I almost think that every SWO should have the opportunity to go through the course. I had plenty of underway time prior to arriving, but this was the first time in my career I've been able to engage tactically - even in a simulated environment - and it was exciting."
WTIs are junior surface warfare officers, ideally selected for the program in between division officer tours or immediately thereafter, who go through a WTI Baseline Course through SMWDC's San Diego Headquarters, followed by an advanced course of instruction. WTIs take pride in holding themselves to a higher standard of tactical and doctrinal coherence; and in turn, systematically institutionalizing higher standards and implementing a culture of high-velocity learning to defeat the Navy's near-peer competitors.
"The WTI program is making serious progress toward a tougher, and more tactically proficient junior officer talent pool that will pay dividends for years to come," said Capt. Jim Jones, SMWDC IAMD division director. "The WTIs who just earned their patches are joining a cadre who make a difference throughout the Fleet every single day."
SMWDC's IAMD Division in Dahlgren, Va. is one of three SMWDC divisions responsible for training and developing the Navy's top junior officer talent in IAMD, Amphibious Warfare, or Surface Anti-Submarine Warfare/Surface Warfare (SuASW/SUW). They plan, manage, and deliver the rigorous 19-week instructional program that includes classroom instruction, tactical training, mission planning, and personnel exchanges with the Naval Air Warfare Development Center (NAWDC) and various Army and Air Force commands. The program is focused on the application of the Navy's most cutting-edge tactics and technologies.
While the number of WTIs in all three warfare areas continues to grow, Fleet demand for WTIs shows no sign of abating soon.
"Congratulations on your achievements individually and as a class team," said Rear Adm. John F. G. Wade, commander of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), headquartered in San Diego. "But as you take a deep breath before moving onto your next assignments, know that we are counting on each of you. We compete in a complex security environment where the only constant is change. The insatiable demand from our Numbered Fleet Commanders for WTI talent speaks for itself. You must continue to learn and grow as individual warfighters, as well as developing the talented men and women you lead on your teams."
SMWDC was formally established in 2015 to increase the lethality and proficiency of the surface force in response to emerging and evolving near-peer threats. The WTI program is a central element of SMWDC's efforts, and it is developing a new generation of expert surface warfare tacticians who are returning to the fleet as force-multipliers for watch teams, ships, and afloat staffs. The WTI curriculum is designed to develop each element of the WTI "Warrior, Thinker, Teacher" model through an emphasis on tactical simulations and the Plan, Brief, Execute, and Debrief (PBED) Process; immersion in tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs); and, instructor skills.
SMWDC continually seeks out top performing junior surface warfare officers to join its team of WTIs.