The following is a guest post by Lt. Georges Banks, the Combat Systems Officer aboard USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10).
Recently, four members of the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) combat systems team and I traveled to Kongsberg, Norway. Konsberg is a beautiful city, but our trip was not a vacation. It was an outstanding opportunity for us to train and sharpen our warfighting skills as we prepare to deploy.
In an effort to bring a rapid, enhanced offensive capability to littoral combat ships (yes, it is as cool as it sounds) and work toward training a crew to win the high end fight, our team attended the Theory of Operations Course for the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) pilot course hosted by Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace (KDA).
Here’s what happened.
During our visit, we learned about NSM directly from the software engineers, project managers, and mission planners. The KDA team trained us on tactical and technical capabilities of this unique weapon. We learned about various tactics and planning tools that maximize the lethality of the weapon system. The NSM is a game-changer. It adds more punch to our lethal anti-ship capability.
Here are a few reasons why this trip was important.
- Achieving High-Velocity Learning
One of my favorite aspects of the course was the prioritization of hands-on training. We spent a lot of time planning missions and learning the system inside and out. Of the 10 days we spent in the classroom, seven were spent practicing system operation with a focus on a variety of tactical scenarios.
- Testing Tactical Scenarios
Our team was excited to stress the system, and by the second week, the instructors allowed us to break into teams to build individual scenarios to test against each other. The instructors were open to allowing us to “test” the system and remarked that we were by far the most inquisitive class they had led.
- Feeding Back for the Future
As it was the pilot course, we had the unique opportunity to provide real-time feedback to both the Norwegian instructors and the Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) representatives tasked with building the course objectives for the future NSM training pipeline. It was refreshing to provide meaningful and direct feedback on such an important naval program.
Traveling to Norway to work with KDA was truly a career highlight – an amazing experience all-around! By the end of the course, our team had made new friends, established a good working relationship with the KDA team, and enjoyed Norwegian cuisine and the beautiful countryside. Most importantly, though, we became better Warfighters. Now, we’re bringing newly-learned expertise back to our ship. I am confident that our team can effectively employ the NSM weapon system and develop tactics that will carry us through certification and deployment, as well as benefit the future of NSM on U.S. Navy ships.