SAN DIEGO - Cruiser-destroyer (CRUDES) warships from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) returned to port after completing the underway portion of CRUDES Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) on April 30. A debrief session finalized the exercise on May 1.
SWATT events focus on advanced tactical training at sea to improve warfighting proficiency, lethality, and ship interoperability before integrated phase training begins with other elements of the CSG. The exercise is the third SWATT led by Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SWMDC), and the second of the CRUDES variety.
"Completing a SWATT prior to the integrated phase of training is like two-a-day practices during football season. Each segment of the team - offense, defense, and special teams - all go off to become experts in what they do before coming together to play scrimmages as a team," said Capt. James Storm, commanding officer of USS Mobile Bay (CG 53). "SMWDC does a great job of sending in an offensive coordinator and a coaching staff to help me prepare with my team in our role as the air defense commander, before integrating with the rest of the CSG."
Units that participated in the John C. Stennis CRUDES SWATT were Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, Mobile Bay, USS Stockdale (DDG 106), and USS Spruance (DDG 111). The exercise was supported by Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO187), the Grey Knights and Golden Swordsmen of Patrol Squadrons (VP) 46 and 47, and the Easyriders and Raptors of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadrons (HSM) 37 and 71.
SMWDC, who led the exercise, is supported by a whole host of organizations to include Naval Information Warfighting Development Center (NIWDC), the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), CSG 15, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Corona Division, Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), Keyport Division, Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 11, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing TEN (CPRW 10), Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility (FACSFAC), Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), Military Sealift Command Pacific (MSCPAC), Afloat Training Group (ATG), and Commander, Anti-Submarine Warfare Force THIRD Fleet (CTF 34).
CRUDES SWATT events provide dedicated in port and at sea training for surface ships that focus on watch team, unit, Air Defense Commander, and Sea Combat Commander training prior to the integrated phase of training with the CSG. The exercise provides focused training in a number of specific warfare areas including Surface Warfare (SUW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), and Information Warfare (IW). During SWATT exercises, SMWDC senior mentors and Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTIs) use replay tools that include systems data, voice, and other information to rapidly build ground truth and facilitate debrief sessions.
"This is the best advanced tactical training I've seen or been able to participate in during my career," said Capt. Henry C. Adams, Commodore of DESRON 21. "From watch standers to Composite Warfare Commanders, JOHN C. STENNIS Strike Group's escorts are a more combat ready and battle-minded team than before we started SWATT, in large part because we had the time and resources to train deliberately, make mistakes, and really learn. In essence, SWATT is CO's Time on steroids; I love it!"
In addition to replay tools, SMWDC's senior mentors and WTIs leverage a codified and recently published Plan, Brief, Execute and Debrief (PBED) process to help watch teams learn to self-identify areas for improvement of Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP), operator performance, and utilization of shipboard systems. The aim is to create an environment of transparency and mutual trust among watch team members, where Sailors enter debrief sessions eager to identify their own shortfalls in order to improve team and unit performance.
"I think we needed this training," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Taylor Chappel from Spruance's OI Division within the ship's operations department. "Not only did it help me regain things that I hadn't done in a while, but it helped the new guys, and couldn't have come at a better time."
Following SWATT exercises, Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport, and SMWDC have developed a Data Analysis Working Group (DAWG) to conduct performance analysis of SMWDC training events. DAWG events help extract empirical data-driven insights from the careful analysis of systems, operators, and tactical performance.
By examining system performance, operator performance, and tactics as a consolidated effort, the process can lead to discoveries not captured by direct observation - system anomalies, operator actions, and flaws in tactics. To date, DAWG events have generated more than 40 weapons system performance-anomaly reports. Systems issues have been identified and funneled to the appropriate technical community to resolve, tactics have been updated, and numerous operator performance issues have been provided to the training community as opportunities to grow or strengthen curriculum.
"SWATTs, PBED, rapid replay tools, and data analysis allows me to advocate for tactical updates among partner warfighting development centers and provide feedback to the TYCOM and Surface Warfare training enterprise," said Rear Adm. John Wade, commander of SMWDC. "Together, as a team, we are building the confidence, proficiency and warfighting acumen of the surface community."
SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet and exists to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains.