Guest Blog By: Lt. Brianna Frazier, Amphibious Warfare Tactics Instructor
I’ve always had an interest in Amphibious Warfare- it’s so dynamic and interdependent. It’s arguably the most complex warfare area in the U.S. Navy due to the work it requires with both our Sailors and Marines. When I heard about the Amphibious Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) program, I didn’t hesitate to apply. I wanted to be a part of something new and was excited for the opportunity to specialize in a field that I’m passionate about. I graduated from the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center’s (SMWDC) first Amphibious WTI class in Little Creek, Virginia, May 26, 2016.
As a WTI, I provide warfare doctrinal guidance and mentorship to underway watch teams during amphibious operations. I also provide guidance during Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Marine Expeditionary Unit work up cycles, and provide feedback during doctrinal reviews to help ensure all amphibious warfare doctrines remain current and relevant. However, I had no idea just how soon my new skillset would be battle tested at sea in a major Navy exercise.
My first post-graduation event, exercise Bold Alligator 2016 (BA16) ran from August 15 to August 25 and the mission was primarily to train Expeditionary Strike Group Two (ESG-2) and the Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2MEB). I acted as Battle Watch Captain aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5) and led a team of watch standers in flag plot, ship-to-shore evolutions, enemy air and surface engagements, and small boat escorts to protect Sailors and Marines at sea and ashore. The Battle Watch Captain is a tactical watch station that functions as the representative for the Composite Warfare Commander of the ARG. This position has direct access to the admiral and acts on their behalf for permissions and orders regarding all warfare areas under the admiral’s purview. It was intense and intimidating at first. However, I was well received as the subject matter expert by both the staff of ESG-2 and the crew of Bataan. Whether in my role as Battle Watch Captain, or during my time off the watch floor as a tactical mentor, the Sailors and Marines on board were open to my guidance and suggestions.
I’m humbled that the Navy chose me as the junior level go-to person for amphibious doctrine and tactics in BA16 and I’m proud to see Navy leadership welcoming WTI graduates into the fold. In fact, WTIs are now in high demand throughout the fleet – everybody wants one on their ship to help raise the tactical proficiency of their unit and their Sailors. While there are currently only 9 of us Amphibious WTIs, 12 more are set to graduate from SMWDC next month. I’m confident that as the WTI program grows, we’ll be able to provide a service to the amphibious fleet unlike any that has existed before. Junior Surface Warfare Officers are laying the framework for the future of the Amphibious Navy — thanks to SMWDC’s cultural reinvestment in tactics, training, doctrine and people.