ADS - EOY

New Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman Badge

MARSOC’s Critical Skills Operators aren’t the only ones in SOCOM with a new badge. Naval Special Warfare’s Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman community recently updated their warfare pin.

The new badge (above), more closely resembles the Rate’s insignia of a cutlass and flintlock pistol atop an anchor, which replaces the waves in the original version (below), first issued in 2001. It does however, retain the Mark V Special Operations Craft (MK-V SOC). Interestingly, the new pin also implements three levels; SWCC basic, SWCC senior and SWCC master. Even though it was just approved, there is a mandatory transition to the new pin by 1 Oct, 2016.

Understandably, you are probably wondering about these new levels. The WARCOM PAO released this story back in 2012 which will fill you in.

RISE OF THE SWCC MASTER

Being a master of the Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC) rating is no easy task, and now the requirements are changing for basic, senior and master qualifications.

SWCC CHANGING WITH THE TIMES

Naval Special Warfare’s modern surface mobility history can be traced to what was known as the “brown water” Navy, which were riverine forces serving on PT boats during the Vietnam conflict.

“In that time, many of their missions required them to have SEALs on the back of the boats and provided fire power and mobility and insertion and extraction capability to the SEALs that were then serving alongside them in Vietnam,” Veazie said. “The marriage was made there and has continued to this day in a more formal way, until we finally brought special boat teams officially underneath naval special warfare and that’s the relationship we have today.”

But the relationship the Navy’s “boat guys” shared with their community and the Navy was a different story.

According to Carpenter, the creation of the SWCC rating generated a cultural shift between the Fleet Navy and Naval Special Warfare. Carpenter said that the Navy didn’t share a close relationship with “boat guys”—the men who operated riverine and PT boats during and after Vietnam, but before the establishment of the SWCC rating. The disconnected relationship meant that boat operators would often times be sent back the regular fleet after a boat unit tour.

“We would go to the boat units and receive expensive training and then be forced to leave the job we loved after our tour was up,” Carpenter said. “SWCC school helped standardize the processes and killed the stereotype of boat guys being out of shape and unable to operate their craft. We are now called tactical athletes and we are now able to remain at NSW our entire careers. This move benefited the country, our Navy and NSW. Because of the long term continuity in the SWCC ranks, NSW was able to save thousands of tax payer dollars and gave credibility to our capability.”

Since the creation of the Special Warfare Boat Operator rating in 2006, NSW has placed SWCC pins on more than 545 men graduating from Crewman Qualification Training. Carpenter says that as the community grows, the men joining the Force today will continue to strive for excellence and be the best maritime operators in the world.

“That pin is tied directly to our creed and that’s the bottom line of who we are, ‘On Time, On Target, Never Quit,’” Carpenter said.

After nearly two decades of service, one of Naval Special Warfare’s (NSW) most versatile war fighting combatant-crafts will be deactivated and removed from its inventory.

The MK V special operations craft was acquired by NSW on Sept. 4, 1995 and made its maiden deployment with a special boat team the following year. Its mission was to insert and extract special operations forces in low to medium threat environments and conduct limited coastal patrol and interdiction. Originally, only a limited number of MK Vs were in use and strategically located in Stuttgart, Germany. When mission requirements called for a MK V, it was flown from Germany to wherever operators needed it, limiting the number of hours it spent on the water and increasing the service life of the hull. After 9/11, the increased pace of operations was not lost on the MK V, as the vessel was used to fill operational voids and remained in use seven years past its original life expectancy, which ended in 2005.

“The craft is aging,” said Capt. Todd Veazie, commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 4. “The technologies that were envisioned for the craft’s operational environment when it was developed 15 or so years ago have changed.”

Veazie says that some of the electronics on the MK V, which allow operators to stay hidden and undetectable on the water, are becoming obsolete and expensive to maintain. Leadership opted to retire the reliable craft at the end of fiscal year 2012. NSW will add two new boats to its inventory, while continuing to operate other craft already in its arsenal.

“NSW will still be running 11-meter Rigid-hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) and Special Operations Combat-Riverine (SOC-R) detachments,” said Mike Brinkerhoff, a logistics specialist at Naval Special Warfare Command (WARCOM). According to Brinkerhoff, the MK V will be replaced with two other boats.

According to Tom Carlson, a WARCOM surface craft programs acquisitions resources manager, the MK V will be replaced by 30 Combatant Craft Medium (CCM) MK 1 boats and 24 High Speed Attack Craft-Theater boats. “We’re replacing the MK V crafts with other boats in order to fill our capability gaps and to continue to sustain a Special Operations Command requirement,” Carlson said.

The first installment of CCM craft will arrive in 2015, and by 2020, all new CCM acquisitions will be in place.

Although SWCC will no longer operate the MK V—the same boat emblazoned on their warfare devices—it doesn’t mean the end of the SWCC community. In fact, it’s a new beginning that allows SWCC operators an opportunity to upgrade their boats and focus on career progression.

The temporary gap in craft came at a unique time. In 2010, the office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) sent an instruction to the Fleet that gave each warfare community control over the warfare devices issued to their personnel. According to Master Chief Special Warfare Boat Operator Douglas Brown, a career manager at NSW’s Center for SEAL and SWCC, this was a huge change.

“Years ago, OPNAV owned all the pins,” said Brown. “The new OPNAV instruction states that each warfare sponsor had to establish and maintain a separate instruction that defined strict prerequisites and formal procedures for qualification, re-qualification, disqualification, and failure to qualify within their specific warfare program.”

When NSW Group 4 received the OPNAV message, SWCC leadership began working on a new instruction that would improve the operator’s technical knowledge, while helping him acquire new qualifications essential to his career field.

According to Brown, the new instruction has already been signed by Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, NSW’s commander. As the governing document for the SWCC warfare insignia, it states that special warfare boat operators must maintain basic, senior, and master level qualifications commensurate with their pay grade.

“The three designators (basic, senior, and master) identify where the person is in their career,” said Chief Warrant Officer Ron Carpenter, training officer at NSW Group 4. “There are deadlines tied to the qualification levels, so if a person doesn’t want to advance in their career field, they could lose their NEC, be put on probation and possibly lose their rating.”

Chief Warrant Officer Michael Andre, a WARCOM surface programs analyst, said that the instruction will help the Force, because it allows operators to focus more on technical knowledge and who they are as Sailors and less on the craft they operate.

“The whole perception of the SWCC community is that the boat is special,” Andre said. “It’s the people who are special. The idea is that as a guy goes from team to team, he’s operated every craft in our inventory.”

Master Chief Special Warfare Boat Operator Patrick Battles, WARCOM’s command master chief, agrees with Andre.
“The main thing is that the qualification process is ongoing,” Battles said. “It’s a continuous learning process and you always have to work at making yourself a better SWCC.”

According to Battles, although the new qualification levels have been established, there are no warfare devices or NECs assigned to them. This is an issue that SWCC decision makers plan to change.

“If you look at the Explosive Ordinance Disposal pin, it changes with the different qualifications, and ours does not,” Battles said. “What we want is a unique warfare device that changes with the qualification; from SWCC basic, to senior, to master.

Battles said that the boat captain and patrol officer qualifications will undergo the same changes in criteria.
NSW leaders have been discussing new pins that delineate basic, senior, and master level qualifications. At press time, no new pins have been selected by the Navy Uniform Board and the community is still discussing various designs.

Regardless of the new SWCC qualification levels and warfare pin discussions, Carpenter believes that NSW’s boat operators have to continuously evolve. “Tactics never change. Only technology changes,” he said.

-MC2 Shauntae Hinkle-Lymas

Tags:

13 Responses to “New Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman Badge”

  1. Hodge175 says:

    Now Dear Army,

    How about something for those of us that have our CIB and EIB as well.

  2. James says:

    So, what happened to the MK 6? Are they all going to NECC?

  3. Sean says:

    First time I’ve ever seen “tactical athlete” used in a non-sarcastic manner.

  4. Garrett says:

    “SWCC school helped standardize the processes and killed the stereotype of boat guys being out of shape and unable to operate their craft.”

    Ha! Nope, Still a thing.

  5. Jack Boothe says:

    IMO the US Navy has way too many insignias/badges. I am not saying the Navy should go back to insignia for just aviators and submariners, but now even stateside desk bound administrative types have something to wear. Soon, the day will come when in the US Navy you raise your right hand, take the oath and a recruiter will hand you an insignia/ badge to pin on your uniform the first day at Great Mistakes.

    • SSD says:

      You actually have to do something to earn them.

    • Garrett says:

      “The three designators (basic, senior, and master) identify where the person is in their career,” said Chief Warrant Officer Ron Carpenter, training officer at NSW Group 4. “There are deadlines tied to the qualification levels, so if a person doesn’t want to advance in their career field, they could lose their NEC, be put on probation and possibly lose their rating.”

      This is a great idea. The SWCC community is small, much smaller than the SEAL community. It seems to that there has been an issue of, for lack of a better word, “turds” in the higher ranks of SWCC. The good guys get frustrated and get out, the turds just float around and make rank. The designator smart help weed out the guys that need to go away or at least keep them on their toes.

      EOD does the same thing. When you do a job that risks you’re own life along with SEALs or any other unit of you screw up, why not set higher standards of professional development.

      My question is, do the current E-7 and up SWCC get grandfathered into master or do they earn it like everyone else?

      • ChrisK says:

        No, SBC’s do not get grandfathered in. If they’re not qualified Patrol Officers (which they should be, but there are a few), then they only rate the SWCC Senior rating until they pass a PO board.

    • Jeff S says:

      Jack, come on now, the Navy isn’t the Air Force. 😉 What ‘deskbound’ admin types get a warfare badge in the Navy?