September 24, 2018 – Maritime leaders from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – the “Five Eyes” alliance – participated in the 2018 Maritime Warfare Working Group (MWWG) here Sept. 17 – 21. The MWWG is an enduring event that improves maritime operability among partners and increases combat effectiveness.
“The value of these meetings cannot be overstated,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Christopher Barnes, the deputy commander for SMWDC and leader of the U.S. Navy delegation. “It is critical that we continue to build on our relationships and sharpen our tactics through collaboration with our allies.”
The five-day forum held at Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) Headquarters onboard Naval Base San Diego was a follow up to previous years’ proceedings, as well as an opportunity for the seventy-five attendees to share maritime observations, information, and events in an era of great power competition – including the maintenance of Sea Control.
“History has shown coalitions that don’t have a common tactical language lose, particularly when the opposition is monolithic,” said Royal New Zealand Navy Cmdr. Jon Beadsmoore, director, Directorate of Sea Power and Warfare. “For New Zealand this forum represents essential access to a large pool of warfighting and scientific expertise that allow us to keep pace with tactical developments, in order to be ready to integrate our combat units with our partners.”
The MWWG was broken into seven unique warfare areas called syndicates. The warfare syndicates (Anti-Air Warfare, Amphibious Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Aviation Warfare, Information Warfare, Mine Warfare, and Surface Warfare) each developed strategies to address this year’s theme of “Task Group Integration and Theater ASW,” which refers to the role surface combatants play when operating in task groups and within the theater ASW arena.
“For the Royal Australian Navy, the MWWG is the premier tactical development and information sharing forum between the five partner nations,” said Royal Australian Navy Capt. Guy Holthouse, commander, Australian Maritime Warfare Centre. “The opportunities and professional exchanges undertaken at MWWG 18 will drive and shape the key requirement of interoperability between participating nations well into the future.”
Partner nations’ Maritime Warfare Centers engagement in the working group is an important aspect and value-add to the process. For instance, SMWDC – the command hosting this year’s event – is one of the U.S. Navy’s five warfighting development centers. In this role, they oversee the effort to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the U.S. Navy’s Surface Fleet across all domains. They accomplish this through advanced tactical training, and they write, revise, and update doctrine and tactical guidance, provide operational support to operational commanders, and provide capability assessments, experimentation opportunities, and future requirements. Similar expertise from the allied Maritime Warfare Centers leads to vibrant and valuable group discussions.
Reviewing previous years’ action items ensured each allied nation maximized the knowledge, expertise and time involved at the forum. During the conference, participants reconciled action items from previous years, and identified new action items for consideration. These actions ranged from developing and sharing a tactical memorandum, to broad reaching items such as planning participation for future at-sea exercises. Partner nations also discussed their plans to commit more of their ships to serve as escorts for U.S. carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups, the return of British aircraft carrier deployments, as well as future task group deployments of Australian amphibious platforms.
The location for the annual MWWG rotates between the participating nations, and is scheduled to take place next in Australia in 2019.
SMWDC is located at Naval Base San Diego with four divisions in Virginia and California. The command’s mission is to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains. Its four lines of operation are advanced tactical training, doctrine and tactical guidance development, operational support to combatant commanders, numbered fleet commanders, and task force commanders, and capabilities assessments, experimentation and future requirements.