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The State of The Warfighter Mentality in The Surface Warfare Officer Community
As the United States shifts focus from decades of land-locked wars to near-peer competitors like China and Russia, top naval leadership has begun to increase messaging and rhetoric to the fleet in order to start managing expectations about how Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) will perform under the most stressful circumstances. SWOs must prepare for what may come: war. This analysis used semi-structured interviews to collect data and identify trends in experiences and/or opinions across a broad range of ranks. Twenty-three interviews were conducted with SWOs and combat arms officers. Throughout the research process, several key themes emerged. The majority of them were seen to detract from the development of the warfighter mentality in the SWO community. The following recommendations are made to aid the community in this development. The Navy must:1. Publish doctrine that includes SWO warfighter behavioral and cognitive characteristics.2. Redirect and leverage positive aspects of the average SWO in order to help change negative aspects of SWO culture.3. Conduct a large-scale, independent assessment into why there is such a large disconnect between the perceptions of senior leaders and junior officers when it comes to readiness.4. Standardize the qualification process in the SWO community.
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