According to a senior officer from the defense forces, the US Navy is having trouble training enough personnel in warfare tactics each year to meet the requirements, which include the future needs of an “expanded future demand.”

Since its establishment in 2015, the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) had trained hundreds of sailors to work as warfare training instructors (WTIs).

After completing a training program, individuals enter a “production tour.” They will serve at SMWDC and other related command lines during a tour for two years. However, during this time, they are solely focused on hosting “high-end training” for vessels or “experimenting” with new robust strategies. After completing this production tour, the mariners will have acquired significant experience in surface warfare and will be eligible to utilize this information in their subsequent deployments at sea.

As per assertions made by SMWDC Commanding Officer Rear Adm. Christopher Alexander to news agencies, the demand for these practitioners has increased as their services have become more widely recognized throughout the fleet. The agency is mulling through the mechanisms that need to be taken to ensure that every warship has a WTI on board. The Navy is starting a new initiative to match these individuals with requirements and acquisition offices this fall.

Still, despite all of the privileges of becoming a WTI, Alexander reported that it is difficult for him to convince enough seamen to go through the program.

“Without WTIs, I can’t produce more WTIs. Without the WTIs, I can’t do advanced training. I can’t do [tactics, techniques, and procedures] development. I can’t do experimentation. I can’t influence the requirements process,” he said.


SAN DIEGO (Feb. 26, 2010) Crewman qualification training brings a boat to shore during Monster Mash training. Crewman qualification training is a 14-week advanced course teaching primary weapons, seamanship, first aid, and small unit tactics to Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman candidates. (Source: US Navy photo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Earlier this year, during an interview with the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC), Alexander mentioned that SMWDC’s most crucial resource, the WTI, will benefit from higher efficiencies as a side effect of the agency’s “restructuring” from a mission-area oriented organization to an organization established along functional lines. 

Because of the restructuring, the education WTIs receive will be improved, as will their capability to instruct the fleet and their engagement in the design of potential competencies, which provide the maximum strategic advantage to their fleet.

The development of Surface Advanced Warfighting School (SAWS) in San Diego was facilitated because of a reorganization that accompanied certain “functional lines” of WTI Production, Training Directorates, and Fleet Technical Reachback Divisions. According to Alexander, this made it feasible to consolidate all WTI courses of instruction (COI) inside one site.

SAWS will foster an all-domain approach to learning and creating Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP), standardize training across all WTI COI, and nurture innovative thinking throughout all WTI fields.

Alexander claims that the production tours, which include working at the SMWDC, operating as a surface ship liaison at the other warfighting development institutes, and functioning as an SMWDC representative at Navy training organizations, are only approximately 65–70 percent as of the moment.

And even though he has to train 115 WTIs per year to fill these production tour positions available successfully, he only teaches roughly 90 WTIs annually.


PEARL HARBOR (Jan. 19, 2010) Ensign Megan Kunkemoellen, left, Ensign Lauren St. Pierre-Hetz, and Ensign Kaylene Klingenstein discuss their personal experiences as women in the Navy at the 2010 Surface Navy Women Symposium. Hosted by Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON)31 and sponsored by Commander, Naval Surface Forces, the symposium focused on current issues and future initiatives applicable to women in the surface Navy. (USce: US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark Logico, Public domaUSvia Wikimedia Commons)

Alexander also stressed that their primary objective is to raise the level of strategic expertise and competitiveness of the Navy. The most efficient method for achieving this objective is to propagate the education and culture of WTIs throughout their ongoing and upcoming initiatives.

As more women take on leadership responsibilities in the Surface Navy, including Department Heads, Executive Officers, and Commanding Officers, the WTI culture and education are making their way to the forefront every year.

“In order to improve the tactical proficiency of the fleet, we need to produce more WTIs and fill the follow-on production tours. Those two ingredients, WTI COI and a production tour, are needed to produce a cadre of officers whose “Day-Job” is to think critically about how we should tactically employ our weapons systems,” he said.

“By filling production tour billets we also increase the number of times a ship and crew interact with WTIs as they move through the phases of training,” he added.

When the WTIs are not there, the personnel can better understand the necessary guidelines to follow and the strategic benefits of adhering to the standard even in their absence. In addition, a significant shift in the culture is being influenced by the presence of women serving in positions of authority at sea and by the expanded potential for fleet members to interact with WTIs in the context of training exercises.