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Thread: Navy Will Shift Military Might To Shallower Waters

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Largo, Florida

    Default Navy Will Shift Military Might To Shallower Waters

    6 July Los Angeles Times - Navy Will Shift Military Might To Shallower Waters by Julian Barnes.

    Swift boats own a small but tortured part of Navy history. The shallow-water craft crewed by armed sailors patrolled the rivers of Vietnam, one of the most dangerous missions in the Navy.

    In the 2004 presidential campaign, the boats emerged as part of a bitter debate over whether Navy veteran John F. Kerry, the skipper of one of the 50-foot vessels, was a slacker or a hero.

    Now, 30 years after Swift boats were mothballed, the Navy has decided they are just what's needed in Iraq and beyond.

    Next year, the Navy will deploy a squadron of 220 sailors to patrol Iraq's Euphrates River on 39-foot versions of the boats. Starting with a dozen vessels which can carry 16 sailors each, their goal will be to stop shipments of weapons, bombs and fighters from Syria to Baghdad.

    The deployment represents a departure from the Navy's emphasis on ships that dominate the "blue water" of the ocean and reflects a move to commit more resources to fighting insurgencies. After the Navy spent decades preparing for big wars by building aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines, its new Naval Expeditionary Combat Command is building small boats that specialize in fighting where the big ships cannot go harbors, coastlines and rivers, or what sailors call the "green" and "brown" water.

    Rear Adm. Donald Bullard, leader of the Expeditionary Combat Command, argues that existing U.S. military capabilities have gaps that terrorists and insurgents can exploit. The Navy's cruisers, destroyers and aircraft carriers dominate the open ocean, but are vulnerable in port. And the military for decades has not had a dedicated force for controlling coasts, rivers and delta areas...

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    Oct 2005


    Military Review, August 1967: Army Forces in Riverine Operations
    ....With US Army and Navy units beginning operations in the Mekong Delta, it might be helpful to examine some of the tactical concepts for riverine operations. These concepts are based on adapting today's tactical doctrine and equipment to the special operational requirements of a riverine environment, while benefiting both from the "lessons learned" from historical examples of riverine warfare and exploitation of new organizational, operational and material ideas...
    ...and published in 1969 by the Navy Dept's Naval History Division:

    Riverine Warfare: The US Navy's Operations on Inland Waters

  3. #3
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    DeRidder LA

    Default Riverine Forces

    Interesting development. I went on 2 MTTs to Bangladesh to lecture on the US riverine forces in Vietnam. My main source was the CMH study at
    The key finding in that study was--drummmmmmmmm roll--that the doctrinal pinnings underlying riverine operations called for combined arms operations. Riverine forces were supposed to be used in concert with ground, airmobile, and aerial forces. After the initial surprise wore off for the VC and NVA forces in the Delta wore off, "pure" riverine forces did less well in closing with the enemy in any meaningful way.

    Another key lesson was that there was more to "riverine" than mountiong battalion-sized operations. It was critical to use Naval brownwater patrols for inspections and interdiction along the waterways.

    Funny that some 10 years after teaching that class, I was in Rwanda arguing for inclusion of surplus Swift boats for the new military to patrol Lake Kivu. That did not happen but the Rwandans did get cigarette boats (Canadian manufacture) through Uganda; these were used in the RPA operation against Iwawa island.



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