View Full Version : Small boat or brown water operations

08-10-2009, 09:04 PM
Does anyone know where I can obtain .pdf copies of military manuals on small boat operations and tactics?

08-10-2009, 09:24 PM
There is a different perspective on the issue, a book on the Portugese use of naval forces in their colonial wars in Africa, mainly Guinea-Bissau. The author is Jack Cann: http://www.virginia.edu/history/user/257 and the book is:

The Brown Waters of Africa: Portuguese Riverine Operations, 1961-1974. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Hailer Publishing, 2007.

Plus try a submitted paper on Portugese COIN: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=5350 and Takedown Ops: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=7144


08-13-2009, 06:35 PM
Thanks for the links.

Is there a US military manual on the subject of small boat operations? And is it available anywhere on the web?

08-13-2009, 07:54 PM
The Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps co-wrote a publication on tactical boat operations but I don't think you can't get that on the web. What aspect of boat ops draws your interest?

08-13-2009, 08:35 PM
I'm interested in all of the considerations related to conducting military ops from small boats. Riverine operations, in particular.

08-14-2009, 03:53 PM
Here's a link that should provide you with a good overview of the development of riverine forces (both USN and USMC). It's a good start. They do list the older doctrine, which is on the web and available.


08-14-2009, 04:59 PM

Good to hear from you. Nothing like an LCAC guy to discuss watercraft.

Tom Odom
08-14-2009, 05:15 PM
I'm interested in all of the considerations related to conducting military ops from small boats. Riverine operations, in particular.

Look at this monograph from CMH. I used it to teach a class on the subject to the Bangladesh Staff College.

VIETNAM STUDIES RIVERINE OPERATIONS 1966-1969 (http://www.history.army.mil/books/Vietnam/riverine/index.htm)

This monograph describes U.S. Army Riverine planning and operations in the Republic of Vietnam during the years 1966 through 1969. Since the personal experience of the author was with preparations for riverine operations and the initial operations themselves, emphasis has been placed on these activities through early 1968. In summarizing operations conducted in the balance of the three-year period, particular attention has been called to significant trends or changes in riverine operations in Vietnam, a co-operative enterprise of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy.
Looking back from the vantage point of early 1972, this study attempts to reconstruct the events and describe the situation as it was from 1966 through 1969, using official records, reports, and personal interviews.
The author is indebted especially to the officers of the 9th Infantry Division who helped in the research and writing of this monograph. Major Johnnie H. Corns was initially the intelligence officer and later the operations officer of the 2d Brigade during 1966 and 1967. His research, writing, and continuous editing have been indispensable in preparation of this study. Colonel Lucien F,. Bolduc, Jr., commanded the 3d Battalion, 47th Infantry, and was later operations officer of the 9th Infantry Division during preparations for and initial conduct of riverine operations. His contributions in preparing the 2d Brigade of the Old Reliables for these operations and in preparing this manuscript are fully appreciated. Colonel Thomas C. Loper, 9th Infantry Division Engineer in 1967 and 1968, contributed both in the enactment and the recording of the riverine story. The author also wishes to acknowledge the typing assistance of Miss Ann ivl. Faherty and Miss Judith A. Secondo, who patiently saw the manuscript through several drafts.
Washington, D. C.
15 August 1972 WILLIAM B. FULTON
Major General, U.S. Army

08-14-2009, 08:52 PM
Thanks for the kind words. I've been busy but have more time now to engage in conversations about this subject. Besides, you Army guys need the Navy to keep y'all honest with these types of operations.

That is a great little monograph. Fulton would know since it was his brigade. My opinion of his work grew a lot more once I started understanding riverine ops a little better. I've conversed with Gen Bolduc (I can't remember how many starts he had at the time of his retirement) via email about his experiences with riverine ops. I can forward that to you if need be. They did some great things in the Delta. The most impressive thing might be how well they did despite the poor command setup (no single commander for the force). I think that speaks well to the professionalism of both sides (Navy and Army) during their operations in Vietnam.

Tom Odom
08-15-2009, 12:31 AM
Funny that the salient lesson in the monograph was that combined arms and maneuver were the key to success--in other words it was not just reverine alone but riverine in concert with air assault, infantry, or even mech with fires that worked. As soon as they tried to go cheap and just use a river based force the bad guys slipped the noose. No big surprise but one we almost always have to learn.


Bob's World
08-15-2009, 09:38 AM
You may want to try the Naval Post Graduate School's Littoral Dominance Center of Excellence (LDCOE). Captain (Ret) Craig Powell, the former SEAL who is the manager of the program, has a knowledge of small boat ops that is match only by his passion for the topic. Tell him I sent you.

Maximus Gungimus
08-15-2009, 06:05 PM
Small Axe,

Try this link: http://usmc.boats.dt.navy.mil/crrc.asp


08-20-2009, 06:02 PM
Thanks to all for the input so far.

01-31-2018, 06:21 PM
Thanks to this excellent WoTR article I have reopened this thread. Link:https://warontherocks.com/2018/01/tet-navy/

The WoTR author in 2015 published his book, available for free online and the summary says:
At the height of the U.S. Navy’s involvement in the Vietnam War, the Navy’s coastal and riverine forces included more than 30,000 Sailors and over 350 patrol vessels ranging in size from riverboats to destroyers. These forces developed the most extensive maritime blockade in modern naval history and fought pitched battles against Viet Cong units in the Mekong Delta and elsewhere. War in the Shallows explores the operations of the Navy’s three inshore task forces from 1965 to 1968. It also delves into other themes such as basing, technology, tactics, and command and control. Finally, using oral history interviews, it reconstructs deckplate life in South Vietnam, focusing in particular on combat waged by ordinary Sailors. Vietnam was the bloodiest war in recent naval history and War in the Shallows strives above all else to provide insight into the men who fought it and honor their service and sacrifice.