Change the SWO Training Pipelinepresent surface-combatant warfighting, not division-officer functionality. Well before they report to their first operational squadron and are given a division to supervise, naval aviators must complete a rugged training curriculum to earn their wings. Nobody would argue that an aviator in training should run a division while in flight school, but this is what the surface community does with junior surface-warfare officers (SWOs) in training. Just because it has been this way for years—it is traditional—does not mean it is the best way.
The amount and type of training that a junior SWO receives is constantly shifting. Six months at the Surface Warfare Officer’s School in Newport, Rhode Island, where newly minted ensigns were taught the principles of running a division and navigating a surface ship, have been replaced by reporting directly to an operational ship and on-the-job training. Certain minute changes have been implemented, including a couple of weeks’ instruction followed by the proposed initiation of a new two-month foundational school. It is still not enough.