SMWDC Graduates Seven New Amphibious Warfare Tactics Instructors

04 December 2020 Seven Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) candidates completed the Amphibious Warfare (AMW) WTI qualification course on December 4, and joined the growing team of Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) WTIs across the Surface Force.

AMW WTIs are warfighting experts and one of the four surface warfare WTI specialties, alongside Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), Mine Warfare (MIW), and Anti-Submarine Warfare/Surface Warfare (ASW/SUW) WTIs.

The path to becoming a WTI begins with top-talented Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) submitting an application to SMWDC to become a WTI. Junior SWOs do not need to have tactical experience, and they can apply for any of the four WTI specialties regardless of what platforms they have served aboard. If selected, the WTI-candidates complete a 2-week long Instructor and Tactics course, and then 13-33 weeks of tactical warfare training, depending on the warfare specialty area.

The graduation ceremony was held onboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft. Story at SMWDC’s AMW Division. Rear Adm. Robert Katz, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, spoke to the newest graduates and offered congratulations. Katz spoke to the significant value of the information the WTIs received during training, and of the benefit of their training to the fleet.

"The value in the knowledge in the AMW WTI qualification you have earned during this course of instruction is unique," said Katz. "You are now joining an elite group who provide invaluable training and support to the fleet. Inspire your juniors to follow in your footsteps, train your peers, provide honest feedback to your seniors, and I look forward to seeing you on the waterfront."

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 are Marine Maj. Nathan Bedle, Lt. Nick Gonsalves, Lt. Katie Griffin, Lt. Paul Hast, Lt. Chris Hebig, Lt. Alexander Hoersten, and Lt. Charles Marshall. Gonsalves was selected as the class Honor Graduate for academic excellence, and Hast was presented the Iwo Jima Leadership award - selected by his peers for superb leadership qualities displayed throughout the fifteen-week course. Lt. Steve Zappa, AMW Division WTI instructor, received the Outstanding Instructor award.

The 15-week AMW WTI course of instruction incorporates 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 Center for Surface Combat Systems’ Ship Self-Defense System 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.

After earning qualification, WTIs complete a production tour, where they bring their skills to bear by providing advanced tactical training, developing tactics and doctrine, providing operational support, and crafting capability assessments. A pilot program at Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) is taking four fleet WTIs and giving them academic theory behind those tactics to make them even better warfighters; the program expects to double next year. SMWDC values the education officers receive at NPS, and this new program shortens certain curriculums allowing WTIs to obtain an accelerated master’s degree without the lengthy in-residence requirement.

WTIs are a key element for accomplishing SMWDC’s mission. Through a range of operations from updating or creating 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 SWO_WTI@navy.mil.

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.
 
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