NB Point LomaCommunity
Surface Fleet Lethality: Leadership Transitions at SMWDC
SAN DIEGO (NNS) — Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) held a change of command ceremony onboard Naval Base Point Loma, May 31.
Rear Adm. Scott Robertson relieved Rear Adm. Dave Welch, to become the fourth SMWDC commander since the command’s establishment in 2015. Vice Adm. Richard Brown, commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP) presided over the ceremony.
“One of the things SMWDC did under Dave’s leadership was to lead the charge for accelerating the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP), specifically for the Surface Force,” said Brown. “Under his leadership, they completed 16 TTPs in under one year that affected real-world operations. We had strike group commanders reaching back to SMWDC while they were on deployment saying, I need a tactic for this,’ and Dave and his team quickly turned it around whether it was in the Red Sea or the Eastern Mediterranean, so they could make a real difference.”
SMWDC’s mission is just one piece of a larger Surface Force strategy designed to deliver sea control capability to Fleet and Combatant Commanders that deters aggression and, if deterrence fails, provides decisive combat power to maintain the initiative and dominate the adversary.
“We have SMWDC with high-end warfighting, TTPs, training our Warfare Training Instructors, pushing the boundaries, providing advanced training to our ships through the Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training exercises. Now, there’s an organization called SURFDEVRON that’s going to be able to take experimentation at pace, and it’s all coming together,” said Brown.
SURFDEVRON refers to Surface Development Squadron ONE, which CNSP established in May. Part of SURFDEVRON’s mission is to coordinate with SMWDC to facilitate TTP development in response to fleet operational requirements.
SMWDC is the Surface Fleet’s Warfighting Development Center (WDC), one of five WDCs in the Fleet driving a culture of tactical excellence throughout the Navy to exceed competitors’ capability during an era of Great Power Competition.
“It has been my distinct honor to lead and serve a team that continues to build a reputation as the Surface Fleet’s center of gravity for warfighting excellence,” said Welch.
“SMWDC’s foundation – and its enduring contribution to the fleet – is the development of a generation of surface warfighters who deliberately develop tactical expertise. The young men and women who step up and take on the challenge of being a WTI are already making significant impacts on the Fleet.”
During Welch’s tenure, the total number of WTIs trained since SMWDC’s inception topped 300. Many of those WTIs planned and led five SWATT exercises aboard multiple hull types in four Numbered Fleet areas of responsibility, including the first Forward Deployed Naval Forces Japan SWATT.
“People are the foundation of everything we do at SMWDC, and WTIs are at the core of our ability to continue to deliver on our mission,” said Welch. “Any success we have is a result of WTIs and staff who not only want to better the Fleet, but who also want to challenge themselves to grow personally and professionally in a team environment. This is the place for Surface Warfare Officers who truly embody the warfighting spirit of the Navy.”
Welch’s next assignment will be Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 15, where he will lead the team that mentors, trains, and assesses Pacific Fleet strike groups, as well as executes deployment certification events.
Robertson takes the helm of SMWDC having recently served as the commanding officer of Surface Warfare Officer Schools Command.
“I have watched SMWDC’s rapid evolvement over the past year and its impact throughout the Fleet is a testament to the leadership and good stewardship from Rear Adm. Welch and the SMWDC team he has guided so well,” said Robertson. “I am honored and thrilled to be joining a group of dedicated professionals who are working hard to increase our Navy’s lethality every day.”
SMWDC is CNSP’s subordinate command and exists to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains. SMWDC is headquartered onboard Naval Base San Diego with four divisions in Virginia and California focused on Anti-Submarine / Surface Warfare, Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Amphibious Warfare and Mine Warfare.
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