SASEBO, Japan -- Rear Adm. Dave Welch, commander, Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), who also serves as the Navy’s Global Mine Warfare Commander (MIWC) visited Navy teams onboard Commander Fleet Activity Sasebo (CFAS), Aug. 28.
"I’m proud of the global reach and impact that SMWDC has as a relatively new organization,” said Welch. "As we execute our lines of operation in support of our mission to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Fleet, it is important that we maintain a strong connection to the waterfront.”
During his visit to Sasebo, Welch visited Commodore, Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 7, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet detachment Sasebo, and USS Germantown (LSD 42).
While aboard Germantown, Welch visited with command leadership, junior officers, and Sailors aboard the ship to talk about Commander, Naval Surface Force’s recently published “Own the Fight” vision, the new SWO Career Path, and how SMWDC delivers support to shipboard watch teams, leaders, and warfare commanders as they prepare for the high-end fight.
“The contributions our Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) make each day can’t be overstated,” said Welch. “You all do incredible work, and you should know that we take our command value that ship crews and warfare commanders are the center of the universe seriously. As the Surface Community’s WDC, our mission is to ensure that you have the competence and confidence to fight and win tonight.”
SMWDC stood up as one of the Navy’s five Warfighting Development Centers (WDC) in 2015 in recognition of an era of increased competition by competitors and adversaries. The command’s mission is to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains, and achieves that through four lines of operation; advanced tactical training, doctrine and tactical guidance development, operational support to Combatant and Fleet Commanders, and capability assessments, experimentation, and future requirements.
The Sasebo visit represented the breadth of SMWDC’s portfolio including advanced tactical training, doctrine & tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) that support the Amphibious Force through SMWDC-led events like the recently completed USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercise. SWATT exercises provide opportunities for surface combatants and warfare commanders to train together to achieve Sea Control.
Additionally, Welch and his team were on the lookout for young junior officers with a tactical mindset, a hunger to learn, and a humble attitude to recruit them as prospective Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI). WTI are the foundation of SMWDC’s lines of operation, supporting them after completing a robust training cycle in Anti-Submarine/Surface Warfare (ASW/SUW), Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), Amphibious Warfare (AMW), and in mid-2019 Mine Warfare (MIW). Following initial training, WTIs complete readiness production tours at SMWDC’s headquarters, one of four divisions, or in key training commands throughout the Fleet.
“It’s encouraging that the Admiral took the time to explain the WTI program to our command, as well as to elaborate on how it's being pushed in order to further develop the warfighting competency of the Naval Surface Warfare community,” said Ens. Kevin Brunner.
Welch’s visit with MCMRON 7 also highlighted the operational responsibilities SMWDC holds as the Global Mine Warfare Commander, including a deployable Mine Warfare Battle Staff that stands ready to support mine warfare (MIW) operations in each of the Navy’s Numbered Fleet Commands. Recently, the Mine Warfare Battle Staff completed its biannual certification exercise during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in the Southern California (SOCAL) AOR. During the exercise, the team worked extensively with international partners to maintain open sea lines of communication in a contested operating environment.
“The mine countermeasure problem is a difficult and time-consuming one to counter, I appreciate the opportunity to brief Rear Admiral Welch on the challenges we experience in the 7th Fleet,” said Capt. Adrian Ragland, commodore, MCMRON 7.
“Sea mines impact the security and commerce of every nation, whether they have large sections of shoreline or not,” said Ragland. It is important that we can bring as many assets to the fight as possible, and that we work closely with our partner nations to rapidly and efficiently counter them wherever they might be employed.”
Welch’s trip to the AOR will also include visits with other U.S. and partner nation Navy teams to strengthen bonds and support interoperability among navies.
“RIMPAC SOCAL was a great opportunity for our staff to come together as a team and to work with partner nations like the JMSDF explosive ordnance disposal team that joined the effort,” said Welch. “In an era of great competition, our ability to maintain strong relationships with our partner nations is important as we maintain a ready, lethal, and tactically proficient Surface Fleet.”
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.