It is time to rethink the Surface Warfare Officer School Division Officer Course (SWOS-DOC) starting from scratch—not merely applying another temporary fix to a program that is probably irretrievably broken. We must transition to something that has a hope of working, and start preparing officers for prompt and sustained combat operations at sea.
Despite more than two decades of SWOS-DOC experience, we continue to see young officers—Naval Academy graduates and others—who report to their first ships without a practical sense of what it means to be a division officer, or a surface warfare officer, and often lack an appreciation for such basics as relative motion. SWOS-DOC was supposed to address these deficiencies and provide a common baseline from which junior officers can begin successful careers. In too many cases, however, our primary schoolhouse just is not producing aspiring warriors. And unfortunately for the officers—and enlisted who must work with these junior officers—the officers that are churned out tend to be bored, poorly educated, embittered administrators.