USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) returned to homeport after completing the Navy’s first East Coast ARG Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercise, June 28.
SWATT is led by mentors and warfare tactics instructors (WTI) from Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) who develop and oversee the execution of ARG SWATTs, who provide at-sea mentoring to build more capable and tactically proficient surface forces.
“SWATT provided us with the first opportunity for the ARG ships to operate as a warfighting team. SMWDC WTIs provided excellent training for warfare commanders, ships and watch standers,” said Capt. Daniel Blackburn, commodore of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 6. “This week definitely prepared us and set the stage for the upcoming integrated training phase.”
SMWDC’s mission is to increase the lethality and tactical warfighting proficiency of the Surface Fleet, by providing SWATTs to ships in the U.S. Fleet Forces and U.S. Pacific Fleet areas of operations. The SMWDC team accomplishes its advanced tactical training portion of its mission through focused mentoring at the unit, air defense commander, and sea combat commander-levels. SMWDC increases lethality through the development of watch standers and watch teams by incorporating the Plan, Brief, Execute and Debrief (PBED) methodology into each training event.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better first East Coast SWATT,” said Cmdr. Jeff Heames, director of operations and training for SMWDC who embarked USS Arlington (LPD 24) as one of the senior mentors during the exercise. “We have refined the ARG SWATT training syllabus as well as the exercise control methodology for both the East and West exercises. This ensures that surface ships across the fleet are able to receive the same level of advanced training, which will position them for a running start into the high-end integrated training phase. The advanced phase is a vital part of the overall training cycle that delivers ready, lethal and capable units to our fleet commanders.”
SMWDC’s mentors and WTIs observed the growth and development of the shipboard teams as the exercise was in the run phase.
“SWATT bridges the gap between the basic and integrated training phases,” said Lt. Mor Rosenberg, a SMWDC anti-submarine warfare/surface warfare (ASW/SUW) WTI who embarked Kearsarge during the exercise. “It is a crawl, walk and run methodology that supports units working together as a team.”
Executing as a team is exactly what the Kearsarge ARG did. Sailors completed air warfare exercises and live-fire exercises, and engaged simulated torpedo attacks. SMWDC mentoring and real-time feedback using replay tools rapidly improved the watch team’s performance each time they completed advanced training events.
“Reps and sets,” said Fire Controlman 1st Class Ryan Brown, who mans the anti-air warfare coordinator position, creating and managing the air picture for watch standers to view. “It really is an opportunity to accomplish the repetitions behind the consoles. The more often you do it, the better you get and the more capable, proficient and well-rounded you become.”
Kearsarge ARG is preparing for an upcoming deployment, and the SWATT exercise provided the ARG a chance to synchronize their ARG warfighting and prepare for integrated phase training. During the integrated phase, the ARG will train with the Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) before receiving deployment certification.
“The placement of SWATT before the ship’s last two major work-ups was great for the crew,” said Capt. Jason Rimmer, Kearsarge’s executive officer. “It gave us a chance to dust off the rust, and plan, brief, execute and debrief the advanced tactical training events during the exercise. We’ve done a lot of training during the SWATT and it has all been worth it.”
The Kearsarge ARG consists of PHIBRON 6, Kearsarge, the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Arlington (LPD 24) and the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).
SMWDC has four divisions focused on mine warfare, amphibious warfare, integrated air and missile defense, and sea combat. SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and exists to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of surface forces across all domains.