Navy Releases New Strategic Weapons Operations Manual

Commander, Submarine Forces (COMSUBFOR) released a new force-wide operations manual.

Creation of the Strategic Weapons Operations Manual (SWOM) was a team effort between multiple organizations to incorporate fleet-wide feedback.

“The SWOM is important as it provides direct operational guidance to our Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines (SSBN) in the organization and operation of the strategic weapons system,” said Cmdr. Chad Teasley, Submarine Force Atlantic’s (SUBLANT) technical advisor on nuclear weapons policy. “The manual will serve as our ballistic-missile submarine’s primary reference and policy guidance for strategic weapons system operations allowing us to be more tactically proficient.”

During the promulgation of the SWOM, Lt. Cmdr. James Taylor, Submarine Force Pacific’s force nuclear weapons surety officer, spoke on the teamwork necessary to incorporate fleet-wide feedback.

“Coordination across a broad spectrum of organizations from both coasts was essential to ensure the SWOM improved upon and streamlined guidance for all our SSBNs,” said Taylor. “At no other time has TYCOM level strategic weapon system policy development used fleet feedback as such a central focus. Bottom line to the fleet is, your feedback was heard. If the feedback didn’t conflict with higher headquarters guidance and it made sense, it was staffed, advocated for, and incorporated into the SWOM.”

Teasley also noted the coordination necessary to bring SWOM to reality.

“Development of the SWOM was a collaborative effort between Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic, Commander, Submarine Force Pacific, Strategic Systems Programs, and the fleet,” said Teasley. “The degree of cooperation and coordination involved was extraordinary and the resulting document is a testament to the high level of devoted teamwork, technical expertise, and commitment to excellence of all involved.”

Master Chief Missile Technician Gordon Jeffcoat, SUBLANT’s force missile technician and primary SWOM writer, explained how the new manual will improve Submarine Force strategic weapons system operations.

“By incorporating fleet feedback during the writing process of these new manuals, we reviewed many practices against higher Department of Defense regulation and eliminated unneeded administration that did not support nuclear weapons safety,” said Jeffcoat. “These documents are ever changing as policies update. Fleet feedback is a powerful driving force to provoke review.”

The SWOM works in conjunction with the Strategic Weapons Manual (SWM) issued by the Director, Naval Nuclear Weapons Program to consolidate and streamline guidance related to strategic weapons system operational procedures.

The SWOM implements the requirements of, and supersedes the Submarine Force Nuclear Weapons Manual and the Strategic Weapons System Leadership Qualification Program.

The mission of the SSBN force is strategic deterrence, by providing the United States with its most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability. Ohio-class submarines serve as an undetectable launch platform for submarine launched ballistic missiles. They are considered the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad; the other legs being long-range bombers and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Submarine Force executes the Department of the Navy’s mission in and from the undersea domain. In addition to lending added capacity to naval forces, the Submarine Force, in particular, is expected to leverage those special advantages that come with undersea concealment to permit operational, deterrent and combat effects that the Navy and the nation could not otherwise achieve.

The Submarine Force and supporting organizations constitute the primary undersea arm of the Navy. Submarines and their crews remain the tip of the undersea spear.

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