The WTIs were challenged in each element of the WTI "Warrior, Thinker, Teacher" that included; instructor skills, tactical simulations, and immersion into tactics, techniques, and procedures.
Rear Adm. James Kilby, the first commander of SMWDC and current director of Warfare Integration for the Office of the Chief Naval Operations (OPNAV N9I) delivered the keynote address to the Fleet's newest WTIs.
"Along with the finest ships and the most advanced warfighting systems, we must also have the most tactical warfighters in the world," said Kilby. "I am proud to introduce these new WTIs and see them integrate into the fleet, who are moving forward consolidating, updating and developing doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) - the foundation of warfighting."
SMWDC's Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Division located in Dahlgren, Va., executed a rigorous 15-week curriculum focused on the Navy's most cutting edge tactics and technologies for talented surface warfare junior officers. The program includes classroom instruction with the ATRC, tactical training, mission planning, and on-site visits with the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, and various Army and Air Force commands. Additionally, WTI candidates each have a specific research "Focus Area" to start them on the path to building expertise in that particular area.
Class 18020 is the 12th class of IAMD WTIs to graduate. One WTI is slated to take command of a warship later this year, and nine are in the pipeline over the next three years to take command of warships. Four graduates were selected for special recognition as the Honor Graduate, Top Tactician, Edward W. Gohring Best Instructor award (in memory of the late Executive Director of the Center for Surface Combat Systems, Ed Gohring), and the Adm. Arleigh Burke leadership award.
Lt. Shane Welsh was selected as both the Honor Graduate and recipient of the Edward W. Gohring Best Instructor by completing the curriculum with the highest academic average, and the highest overall instructional standards, and for best representing the presentation skills expected of an IAMD WTI. Welsh's next assignment is at ATRC in Dahlgren.
Lt. Cmdr. Christian Blasy, as class Top Tactician, was selected by the SMWDC IAMD WTI staff for best representing the qualities expected of an IAMD WTI; hard work, professionalism, respect, balance, composure, the highest level of knowledge, inspiring confidence behind the podium, and fascination with warfighting. Blasy's next assignment is with SMWDC Amphibious Warfare (AMW) Division in Little Creek.
Lt. Cmdr. Tim Barry received the Adm. Arleigh Burke leadership award, selected by his peers' private ballot for demonstrated superior leadership, industry, and perseverance. Barry's next assignment is with SMWDC IAMD Division in Dahlgren.
IAMD WTI graduates return to the fleet and are viewed as the experts in the IAMD field. WTIs take pride in holding themselves to a higher standard of tactical and doctrinal excellence, systematically institutionalizing higher standards, and implementing a Fleet culture of high-velocity learning in support of national objectives.
SMWDC was formally established in 2015 to increase the lethality and tactical 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 continues to develop a new generation of expert surface warfare tacticians. After earning their patches, WTIs return for a readiness production tour to hone their skills on advanced tactical training, tactics and doctrine development, operational support, and capability assessments and experimentation.
Top SWOs can apply for the WTI program to become tactical warfare experts in one of four surface warfare areas - AMW, IAMD, Anti-Submarine Warfare/Surface Warfare (ASW/SUW), and starting next year, Mine Warfare (MIW).
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.