AEGIS Training and Readiness Center changes leadership

DAHLGREN, Va. — During a change of command ceremony at the AEGIS Training and Readiness Center (ATRC), onboard Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, Va., Capt. Dave Zook turned over command to Capt. Russel Sanchez Sept. 20.

Retired Rear Adm. Jesse Wilson, Jr. was the guest speaker for the event.

“Dave has made a huge impact at ATRC,” Wilson said. “He increased ATRC capacity by building in swing shifts, leveraging Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) resources, and designing tailored scenarios to streamline and maximize laboratory time that increased throughput while maintaining quality to reduce student wait time from nearly two years to less than two months. ATRC Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) and enlisted subject matter experts supported AEGIS Combat Systems software development and validation events collaboratively incorporating operational training and employment considerations and then translating them into curriculum and tactical scenarios. Additionally, to meet Fleet requirements and improve operator proficiency, Dave led an innovative approach that will revolutionize operator AEGIS Combat Systems training. Leveraging the unique capabilities of the Surface Training Advanced Virtual Environment-Combat Systems (STAVE-CS) Reconfigurable Combat Information Center Trainer (RCT), Dave led and directed his team in designing a course that will help triple ATRC’s most advanced combat systems AEGIS baseline throughput capacity and deliver Sailors who are able to meet the most advanced tactical challenges.”

Zook explained that in his 24 years of serving and protecting his country, ATRC has been one of the most challenging but rewarding assignments of his career.

“We train first accession Sailors who are just starting their careers to prospective major commanding officers of our cruisers and destroyer squadrons,” Zook explained. “What my staff does each day shapes the future of our Navy. I am not going to read you some list of numbers of how many people we train or what our graduation rate is because none of that matters in the larger mission that is ATRC. ATRC sets the standard for Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) in the fleet. About 40 percent of our Sailors go straight to a ship that is deployed right now in harm’s way. It is the leaders who walk through these doors who are charged with defending the other Sailors on their ships, the 5,000 personnel in the carrier strike group, 330 million of us in this nation, and the billions throughout the world who live everyday under their protection. Those are the numbers that matter.”

Capt. Dave Stoner, commanding officer for the Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS), was the presiding officer and discussed Zook’s next tour of duty as deputy for the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) IAMD Division.

“I know Dave will bring his command philosophy, to ‘develop Sailors who are Smart, Proficient, Excellent, with the right Attitude, and who are Ready for the challenges of Life and Warfare’, known as the acronym ‘SPEAR’, across the street to SMWDC IAMD Division,” Stoner said. “He will train and mentor future WTIs to have the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to be successful warfighters. I also know that he will continue to build the partnership between CSCS and SMWDC. Our commands may be separate, but what we do each day is the same – train Sailors how to fight and to win.”

Zook was presented his first Legion of Merit during the ceremony. Part of the award citation commended the captain as, “revolutionizing the entire spectrum of AEGIS combat systems training” and listed many of his accomplishments including, “creating a new program challenging AEGIS Weapon System instructors and students to complete 85 percent of Combat Systems Coordinator Personnel Qualification Standards prior to completing their training pipeline.”

The future of ATRC under new leadership was also highlighted.

“Most recently, Capt. Sanchez served as the executive assistant for Naval Warfare Development Command, coordinating efforts across a staff of Sailors, civilians and contractors to develop, refine and finalize strategic plans,” Stoner said. “I expect nothing but excellence in the coming years from Russ and his team.”

Sanchez is honored to become part of the AEGIS community.

“I’ve been here since the beginning of September and what I have observed thus far is truly impressive,” Sanchez said. “ATRC is the foundation of AEGIS fleet readiness. What you do on a daily basis for our Navy and country is awe-inspiring. I look forward to leading an amazing team.”

ATRC is the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Center of Excellence for the Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS). ATRC provides Sailors with the knowledge, ability, and skill to operate and maintain the AEGIS Combat System through timely, effective, and integrated training delivered across Sailors’ careers.

For more information on AEGIS Training and Readiness Center, visit

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