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    NSW Celebrates First Woman Commanding Officer



    Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Alex Smedegard 

    Naval Special Warfare Group ONE

    CORONADO, Calif. (March 16, 2022) In honor of Women’s History Month, Naval Special Warfare is celebrating Cmdr. Blythe Blakistone, who became the first woman to serve as a commanding officer of a Naval Special Warfare (NSW) unit when she took command of Tactical Communications Command (TCC) 1.

    Naval Special Warfare Group 1, which mans, trains and equips West Coast-based SEAL Teams, is comprised of SEAL Teams 1, 3, 5, and 7 as well as Logistics Support Unit 1 and TCC-1. Blakistone has served in her role since 2020 and her command supports SEAL Teams, other special operations forces, and conventional forces worldwide by providing tactical communications in all environments and levels of conflict.

    “We are the voice of the nation’s most elite warfighters,” said Blakistone. “I am privileged to be in a position overseeing Sailors operating at the forefront of technology to maintain an edge over our adversaries.”

    She described what makes her successful in her role at NSW.

    “I think I bring a different perspective,” said Blakistone. “Not just as a woman, but also serving in the fleet aboard ships with my background, I believe, has made me hugely valuable to not only the Naval Special Warfare enterprise but also to my Sailors and the team at TCC-1.”

    During her tenure she has furthered the partnership between the fleet and NSW by bringing a sense of enthusiasm to everything she does, according to Capt. David Abernathy, commander of Naval Special Warfare Group 1.

    “It has been incredible to watch Blythe lead over the past two years,” said Abernathy. “She is exactly the officer we need in our toughest situations – her strong character, sharp intellect, and innovative spirit are second to none.”

    Rear Adm. H.W. Howard, commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, said diverse backgrounds like Blakistone’s are what give NSW teams a competitive edge.

    “NSW values diversity,” said Howard. “We simply cannot accomplish the mission without diversity of roles, responsibilities, backgrounds and perspectives. Blythe’s innate ability to lead, along with her unique background and expertise are just one example of how diversity gives our teams the ability to fight and win when it matters most.”

    Blakistone is a native of Bremerton, Wash., and is a 2002 graduate of the United States Naval Academy where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering. Upon commissioning, she served 11 years as a surface warfare officer where she led Sailors operating some of the most advanced warships in the world.

    “A lot of my experiences as a Midshipman [at the United States Naval Academy] really influenced my approach to leadership,” said Blakistone. "I was able to observe a lot of styles of leadership, and I took the points that resonated most with me as I went into the fleet as a young [surface warfare officer].”

    In 2013 Blakistone was re-designated as an information warfare officer, entering the vast evolving battlespace of technological and cyber domain dominance.

    “I really enjoy [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics]. I always have,” said Blakistone. “I started to look at what more could I do. I made the change because I wanted better technology, bringing technology to the fleet, and then also the cyber aspect. At [TCC-1] I love that we are doing experimentation and bringing that new technology forward to the mission.”

    Blakistone credits much of her success to the role models she has had along the way. One of those role models was the first woman officer in the history of the U.S. military to command a major unified combatant command, U.S. Air Force General Lori J. Robinson.

    “I love her tag line: ‘I’m a good officer. I’m a good airman. I just happen to be a woman – and that’s not how I got here.’ It was a privilege working for her and to see her at the top and how she handled things.”

    Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, the top information warfare officer and commander of Naval Information Forces, was another key influencer and former boss of Blakistone.

    “I took a lot from her playbook on how she leads and influences at all levels,” said Blakistone. “I learned to instill in my Sailors to continue learning and to invest in the Sailors around them. Include everybody. Embrace diversity. These are the building blocks to successful teams.”

    From the women cryptologists who cracked the German U-boat enigma codes in World War I and the Japanese naval codes in World War II; to women who provided combat intelligence for every major conflict since the Cold War, women have been at the forefront of information warfare since information warfare existed.

    Navy history is full of trailblazing pioneers who paved the way for more than 135,000 active, reserve, and civilian women serving in the Navy today. In honor of women’s history month, we honor and pay tribute to those women – active and reserve, uniformed and civilian – who have served our Navy and our nation.



    Date Taken: 03.16.2022
    Date Posted: 03.16.2022 09:57
    Story ID: 416527
    Location: CORONADO, CA, US 
    Hometown: BREMERTON, WA, US

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    Downloads: 4