Story by Angela Fry on 05/20/2019STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. United States Special Operations Command's Security Cooperation schoolhouse, the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, held a formal change of command ceremony on May 17, at the international training center's headquarters on the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Cmdr. John T Green, who assumed command of NAVSCIATTS on Aug. 8, 2017, formally relinquished command to Cmdr. Eric Skalski in front of family, friends, and staffs of Naval Special Warfare Group 4, NAVSCIATTS, Special Boat Team 22, the director of SSC NASA, the commander of the Belgian Special Forces Group and representatives from the Royal Netherlands Army Korps Comandotroepen.
In emotional remarks to his staff, Green reinforced the mission and relevance of NAVSCIATTS, which was originally established in 1961 as a Coast Guard training team in Rodman, Panama. "At NAVSCIATTS, our motto is Stronger Together' and our mission is to make the world a better place," he stressed. "The way we do this is by training the military and police forces of our international partners. This enables them to defeat threats to our common security so that they do not come here."
"We are passionate about this mission and we love to come to work every day," expressed Green, a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran who has spent the majority of his service as a SEAL. "The people who do this mission are unique. We are among the most diverse commands in the Navy; we represent many different rates and warfare communities, and other military services."
"We are international, as many of us grew up outside of the U.S. and we are native speakers of at least six languages," Green continued. There is no other team like uswe are unicorns."
Green explained to the more than 200 in attendance how the continuing globalization of the command affects the overall USSOCOM mission. "Today we are the first and only legislated command in the Navy: Title 10, Section 352 is titled NAVSCIATTS,' enshrining us in the law itself. This gives us legal authorities that no one else has," he continued to explain. "Everywhere the nation has vital interests, everywhere SOCOM forces are decisively engaged, you will find NAVSCIATTS training critical partners. When Ukrainian special operators rotate to the battlefront in the Donbass region, they do so with NAVSCIATTS' training. When troops from Cameroon and Niger assault the hideouts of Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin region, they do so with the skills they learned here."
Capt. Joshua Lasky, commodore of NSWG 4, described the story of this small Naval Special Warfare command that continues to maintain a vital global impact on U.S. partners and allies around the world in spite of its size of merely 100 active duty sailors, general service civilians and contractors, and the fact that it was recently signed into legislation via the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
"While leading through all this change, and change is hard to lead, John Green has led with great passion and vision and with the simple belief that it can be done," Lasky said in remarks addressed to those in attendance. "He saw things in his people that perhaps they did not even see in themselves. He was a master of engagement and helping others see what he saw, which was opportunity and great potential," the Group 4 leader expressed in honor of the outgoing commander.
During Green's' almost two years at NAVSCIATTS, his leadership solidified NAVSCIATTS' footing at the leading edge of Security Force Assistance and Security Cooperation initiatives. The commander led NAVSCIATTS to the full regionalization of its five in-resident training semesters to align with United States Special Operations Command and Theater Special Operation Command SFA priorities.
In his period of command, the facility has trained more than 1,200 international military and law enforcement agency personnel from 63 partner nations via in-residence courses of instruction and mobile training teams in the areas of waterborne operations, tactical procedures, maintenance, human rights, rule of law, and instructor development. Green, who has served on multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of engagement, is credited with the continued expansion of NAVSCIATTS to a global training center, resulting in the addition of six new countries: Bulgaria, Chad, Italy, Niger, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Green's' next order of assignment will be working in resource management for USSOCOM in Tampa, Florida. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his tour at NAVSCIATTS that included responsibility of the command's military and civilian personnel, and its 20 courses of instruction with an average of almost 1,000 personnel graduating from in-resident and mobile training events annually.
The incoming commander expressed his excitement regarding his assumption of command and NAVSCIATTS' future direction. "Commodore Lasky, thank you for presiding over this ceremony," Skalski stated. "I am both grateful and humbled for the privilege to serve as the skipper of this one-of-a-kind command. I know you are tracking how excited and honored I am for this tremendous opportunity and responsibility."
Reared in Miramar, Florida, Skalski commissioned into the Navy in 1985 under the Delayed Entry Program and attended basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois. During his distinguished career, he completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 1988, with class 153 and deployed to Iraq in 1991, in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
In Skalski's more than 30 years of service, the new commander served on multiple deployments to Afghanistan, Bahrain, and the Philippines. Skalski recently completed a duty assignment with U.S. Special Operations Command North, where he served as the engagements division chief. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action, Skalski was awarded the Silver Star for his service, September 2009, with Task Force Trident in the Malmand Village of Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Skalski also served as the assistant training officer at NAVSCIATTS from 2002 to 2005, with this assignment being an example of the command's continued growth. "It is heartening to see that the years have been kind to this command, at least in terms of mission expansion, relevance, key leader support and advocacy," Skalski explained. While that is due in large part to the great work of all of you, it is also visionary leaders like former Commander Clay Pendergrass and John Green who are able to look through joint, combined combat-seasoned lenses to shape our efforts in support of our partners in the fight."
To date, more than 62-percent of the world's countries have walked the halls of this storied command. The facility trains and educates international special operations forces, SOF-like forces and SOF enablers across the tactical, operational and strategic spectrums through in-residence and mobile training team courses of instruction. Since 1963, almost more than 12,000 students from 121 partner nations have completed training at NAVSCIATTS.
For more news from the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, visit www.socom.mil/navsoc/navsciatts/.