SNA 2014: Navy to Standup Surface Warfare ‘Top Gun’ This Summer

January 14, 2014 3:50 PM - Updated: January 14, 2014 7:23 PM
USS Stout (DDG-55) ires its MK45 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise. US Navy Photo
USS Stout (DDG-55) fires its MK45 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise on Jan. 6, 2014. US Navy Photo

The surface Navy will take a page from the naval aviation community and standup a new command to teach combined surface tactics to the service’s top surface warfare officers by the end of the year, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, commander of U.S. Surface Forces said in a Tuesday presentation at the Surface Navy Association symposium 2014 in Crystal City, Va.

Naval Surface and Expeditionary Warfare Command (NSEWC)—modeled in part after the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center which trains pilots in strike and air to air combat —will train high preforming SWOs across several warfare disciplines.

“There is no command in the surface navy command right now that has a flag officer assigned to it who is tasked at looking at development, training and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) across all the areas that we ask our ships to do simultaneously,” Copeman said.
“We don’t have a command that does [anti-surface warfare], we don’t have a command that does [electronic warfare] for surface ships. None of these exist. “

The goal will be to pepper graduates across the fleet in the same way Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center’s ‘Top Gun’ predecessor (Naval Fighter Weapons School) created a “patch-wearer” class of elite fighter pilots.

“We’re talking about 11 to 14 different warfare areas, because sometimes you are doing them all at the exact same time,” Copeman said. “We have to make sure that we’re providing the background, training and equipment to make sure we’re using these very expensive warships to the best of their ability.”

Last week Copeman won tentative approval to create the command that will come online in the summer, he said.

“This isn’t going to be a giant command. It isn’t going to be hundreds of hundreds of people, “ Copeman said.
“But it it’s going to be some pretty dedicated individuals. It’s going to be a lot of lieutenants, it’s going to be a lot of lieutenant commanders. We’re going to pick out some really hot officers and start developing them.”

Several in the surface warfare community have complained for years the surface fleet has not spent enough time developing sailors in surface warfare tactics in the same way the naval aviation community has developed tactical instruction in its own programs.

NSWEC will be initially staffed with weapons and tactics instructors (WTI) currently training at Naval Air and Missile Defense Command (NAMDC) in Dahlgren, Va. and Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC) in San Diego, Calif., Copeman wrote in the January, 2014 issue of Proceedings.

Copeman did not include details on the planned location of NSWEC or details on the proposed training program.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

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