By Vice Adm. Tom Rowden
Commander, Naval Surface Forces
Yesterday, midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy found out their service assignment in the U.S. Navy. For those midshipmen who will become surface warfare officers, as well as their comrades who received notification earlier in the academic semester at Naval Reserve Training Officer Corps units across the country, I want to congratulate all of you and welcome you to the surface warfare community – a community that I love dearly.
It is a great time to be a surface warfare officer! Among all the warfare communities you could have chosen, SWOs will be the first to hit deck plates, leading Sailors almost immediately following graduation. You will “lead early and lead often” and you will further develop and hone the leadership skills you have been developing over the past four years.
You will be leading our Sailors in the midst of a rapidly changing security environment in the maritime domain. In response, our Navy is delivering new ships and weapons systems while, at the same time, improving our training and tactics to address these new and sophisticated threats. Our Surface Forces are executing exciting missions all over the world and regardless of your ship type, job assignment, or mission, each of you will play a vital role in shaping the future of our community and the maritime environment.
The Surface Warfare community is also on the leading edge of adopting personnel policies that are increasingly rewarding our most talented officers. You are embarking on a career path that offers more flexibility than any previous generations of surface warfare officers with unique opportunities to pursue graduate level education, intern at some of the most prestigious global companies, and train to become an expert tactician in the fleet.
I take great pride in leading a community that, in essence, began 241 years ago with our nation’s and our Navy’s first six frigates. There is no question that the surface community serves as a primary integrator in today’s warfighting disciplines, from the tactical to the theater level – with capability for deterrence, sea control, and power projection around the globe.
For these reasons and more, I continue to love being a surface warfare officer. I have the honor of being the “SWO Boss,” and I could not be more excited about the opportunities that await all of you. Leadership is and will remain the bedrock of our community and we each play a significant role in making our Navy a more mobile, lethal, and flexible force.
The future surface community in which you will be leading is already unfolding before you. From embarking the new fifth-generation F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft on our amphibious ships to USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) and the innovative technologies she is ushering into our Navy, we are dedicated to enhancing the lethality of our forces by improving the reach of today’s ships through new payloads of more capable weapons, sensors and unmanned vehicles.
I take resounding pride in knowing all this is powered by a tremendous community of professionals – from seaman to admirals – each key to our daily success. You will now be joining their ranks and I want you to know that your impact will be immediate!
America is a maritime nation and as such needs a strong maritime force – the appetite for surface forces has never been greater, and I can say with confidence that we are doing our part to answer the call. It’s truly gratifying to be in a community that has been and will continue to be so critical to American power and prosperity.
Again, congratulations to all of you of your assignment to surface warfare, a community that I love. Welcome to our team!