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Naval Special Warfare Command Holds Change of Command Ceremony

19 August 2022

From Petty Officer 2nd Class Destiny Cheek

SAN DIEGO - Rear Adm. Keith B. Davids relieved Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III as commander, Naval Special Warfare Command during a change of command ceremony at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, Aug. 19.

Gen. Richard D. Clarke, commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, was the presiding officer and guest speaker of the ceremony. In his remarks, Clarke praised Howard’s leadership and mission focus for Naval Special Warfare to be ready for greater complexity and risk – and deliver the substantive and transformational changes for relevance to the Joint Force and Navy Fleets, survivability, and lethality in defense of the Nation.

“Wyman, you’ve led during a historic two years and you’ve set this command on an amazing trajectory,” said Clarke. “Over the past year alone, I’ve visited SEAL teams operating in the Arctic with European partners, and I just recently returned from seeing SEALs in the Indo-Pacific. Over the past two years, Naval Special Warfare Command has continued to experiment in the maritime domain, whether that’s with autonomous capabilities, undersea dominance, or many other aspects. You have transformed the elite capabilities within this command by taking them to a new level.”

“As the Naval Special Warfare community returns to prioritize the maritime special operations missions that extend Joint Force reach into denied areas, Howard has unequivocally accelerated the strategic trajectory of our premier maritime special operations force to help our Nation compete and win against any adversary,” Clarke said. “Through his leadership, creativity, and dedication to solving the Nation’s hardest problems, Naval Special Warfare is ready to hold our adversaries and their critical military capabilities at risk. He has done this through an aggressive commitment to modernize the way and means the force assesses, selects, trains, and deploys the best Naval Commandos ever.”

Howard assumed command of Naval Special Warfare Command in September 2020. He focused on strengthening the force and Naval Special Warfare families, commissioning several new component commands, and implementing a culture and sustainable architecture for concept development, experimentation and continuous assessment and development.

“When I had the privilege to assume command of this incredible team, we challenged ourselves with a deliberate, comprehensive, and urgent transformation to meet new threats and create the irregular warfare options that strengthen national leverage and amplify the Nation’s integrated deterrence options,” said Howard. “In the imperative to innovate for military advantage and edge at this geo-strategic inflection point, I’m extremely proud of our team an enrolled and committed team whose professionalism, capability, integrity, trust, candor and common purpose makes real the new and distinctive missions that only we can do—under, on, and above the sea.”

The ceremony marks the end of a two-year command tour for Howard, who graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Assessment, Selection and Training with Class 172. He commanded at all operational and component levels of Special Operations, including service as commanding officer of Naval Special Warfare Development Group from 2011-2013 and Special Operation Command Central from 2018-2020. He has multiple tours in command of Joint Task Forces and was among the first to deploy to Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

“I am humbled to have served with our Nation’s finest warriors, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great Nation,” said Howard. “To our Gold Star families, for their sacrifice, a sacrifice too few understand or comprehend, it is your resilience and sacrifice that leads us and underpins our foundation of honor, courage, and commitment. We will continue to honor you and our Fallen Teammates with our deeds and our actions.”

Although he was not able to attend in-person, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, recently thanked Howard for his service and commended him for creating a culture and mindset amongst the Naval Special Warfare community that continuously self-assesses, corrects, and innovates.

“Naval Special Warfare continues to improve its lethality and warfighting readiness every day,” said Gilday. “Howard has been a vanguard for pushing his teammates to be more self-assessing and more self-correcting and while doing so has accelerated our Navy’s competitive edge and maintained our Naval Special Warfare community’s elite reputation as the world’s premier maritime special operations professionals.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve with the professionals in our armed forces and alongside our allies and partners,” said Howard. “This incredible community of warriors, leaders, and families is a timeless and authentic team; a team that is never intoxicated by success, never hides from failure, is never defeated in loss. Naval Special Warfare is a team always on mission, always resilient, always accountable, with humility and stewardship, for every outcome in defense of our Nation and in service of all Americans. The Deed is All – Not the Glory.”

Davids, a native of Miami, and 1990 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, most recently served as commander, Special Operations Command South, Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida.

Davids expressed his gratitude to the Naval Special Warfare Command staff for a first-class turnover week and change of command ceremony, thanked his family for their unwavering love and support, and praised Howard for his warfighting vision and leaving him a strong and professional Force.

“Wyman has aggressively transformed Naval Special Warfare for the step changes in capability and resourcing to stay ahead of our adversaries,” Davids said at the ceremony. “The global threats we face will continue to call on the full extent of our commitment, our creativity, and our adaptability. We will build on the course that Admiral Howard has set for this community.”

Over 10,000 strong, Naval Special Warfare includes approximately 3,000 Sea, Air, Land operators; 700 Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen; 4,600 combat support and combat service support personnel, 700 reservists and 1,200 civilian teammates.

Naval Special Warfare is committed to its Sailors and the deliberate development of their tactical excellence, ethics, and leadership as the Nation’s premiere maritime special operations force fully aligned in support of the National Defense Strategy. Naval Special Warfare is the Navy’s special operation force and the maritime component of U.S. Special Operations Command, and its mission is to provide maritime special operations forces to conduct full-spectrum operations, unilaterally or with partners, to support national objectives.


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