Guest Blog By: Lt. Srdan Samardzcic, Warfare Tactics Instructor, Integrated Air and Missile Defense at the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, San Diego
I applied for the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) program during its pilot stage in 2014. From there, a selection board at the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) Dahlgren, Virginia detachment reviewed applicant packages to find the candidates with the best potential to become a WTI. Fortunately for me, I’d received what I’d later find out was the strongest commanding officer’s endorsement of all the applicants – a reflection of my command’s commitment to the next tactical step in my career.
I’d heard a lot about the IAMD WTI curriculum from previous students, and it was obvious on day one that the WTI class was far more intense than any previous Navy class I had attended. My first day was full of classroom instruction — followed by group study as well as individual study. In fact, we spent the entire day focusing on strategy and tactics. The 19-week program took commitment, discipline, and prioritization from future WTIs to ensure we solely focused on processing classroom information and took the time to retain the technical and tactical aspects.
Now I serve as the assistant WTI program manager for SMWDC, which is located on Naval Base San Diego. My job is to match individual IAMD WTI talents with the needs of the fleet. And the demand is high. I’m constantly engaged with new and old IAMD WTI graduates – it’s a tight-knit fraternity. My role is mostly in the office, yet I take any opportunity to go underway. Sometimes I support training exercises to get cruisers and destroyers ready for deployments and certifications, or sometimes I simply provide IAMD mentorship during missile exercises.
Back on my last ship, USS Stockdale, I dreamt of having more time to learn about tactics – now that dream is a reality! I get to teach and provide tactical recommendations to commanding officers with full confidence and competence, all while upholding the WTI ethos: warrior, thinker, and teacher. I’m proud to be a WTI program alumnus – a new generation of warfighters for the Navy’s Surface Warfare community.