Thursday, November 6, 2014

Are you SWOtivated to join the surface community?

By LT Harry Qui 

Service assignment for the first class midshipmen is coming up later this month. By now the Class of 2015 has had experience during their summer training observing a variety of jobs available to naval officers that will help them make their first major decision about their future careers.

And the second class mids are just behind them. This past summer, midshipmen from the Class of 2016 underwent summer training – PROTRAMID (professional training of midshipmen). During PROTRAMID, they spend a week with each unrestricted line community to learn in-depth of what each offers.

One of the communities that they spend a week with was the surface community and the Surface Warfare Officers. Everyone has heard of Surface Warfare Officer or SWO, but have you ever considered of becoming one?

Since the age of sail, officers serving on board those ships were in charge of navigation, weapons, supplies and training the next generation of officers. They were the origin of the SWO community, and they have been the backbone of a Navy since its inception.

As time progressed, naval weapon platforms diversified. This brought about different communities within the naval forces. However, the core missions for SWO have remained the same.

With time, jobs for SWOs have expanded as well. It is reasonable to say that the career paths of a SWO are as unique as the individual. Of course, there are certain milestones that all SWOs must achieve, but it varies greatly how each officer reaches these goals.

For instance, a person could spend his or her entire career on board major surface vessels, while another officer might switch between platforms. If the thought of being on a river really gets your heart pumping, then you can join a RIVERON squadron. Perhaps the aspects of littoral combat have certain hold on you. If so, the new LCS could be an option. These new class of ships are multi-mission and very versatile.

During surface week, the midshipmen experienced firsthand what newly commissioned officers go through during their first command. They had the chance to learn about the variety of jobs available within the SWO community in a real world setting. The midshipmen spoke with newly commissioned ensigns regarding how they transitioned from being a midshipman to an officer and what the expectations were for them as they reported to their first command.

Their experiences might differ from each other after graduation, however, one common theme is that as new ensigns, they are expected to lead from day one. To have a successful career, they must ensure that the sailors working for them are set for success as well. 

It is a big responsibility but those who are SWOtivated will be well prepared for the challenges.

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