SOCOM's Maritime Efforts Remain Adaptive, Engaged
Story Number: NNS090626-03
Release Date: 6/26/2009 5:02:00 AM
By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Kathryn Whittenberger, Naval Special Warfare Group 4 Public Affairs
NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Special Warfare Group 4 (NSWG-4), U.S. Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) maritime surface mobility component, faces an interesting task in a time when focus is almost completely concentrated on a ground war: how to stay relevant now and engaged ten years in the future.
"Ground operations are the primary diplomatic and military priority right now," said Capt. Chuck Wolf, commander of NSWG-4. "While attention is focused on the Middle East, problems continue to grow in coastal areas, leading to greater regional instabilities."
Wolf's mission is to organize, train and equip assigned Naval Special Warfare (NSW) personnel as needed, conduct security force assistance to build foreign security force small craft capability and capacity, and deploy NSW task force/group level staffs as required. This is a tall order with an aging combatant craft fleet and an increasing demand signal.
One of his priorities is building partnerships between numerous groups such as Coast Guard, special operations forces and the surface fleet. This synergy of effort will lead to similar tactics, techniques and procedures being common throughout all of the DoD and eventually Wolf hopes it will spread through partner nations as well.
"Working together, a basic coxswain here will be able to work with someone who's been trained to the same standards, enabling a more collaborative effort in the littoral battlespace," said Wolf, who has four subordinate commands.
Three special boat teams are spread on the East, West and Gulf Coast. Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS) transitioned to fall under NSWG-4 in February. Its mission is to provide partner nation security forces with the highest level of riverine and coastal craft operations and maintenance technical training.
"Both the in-resident courses at my schoolhouse and our mobile training teams manned by Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) from there and the Special Boat Teams continue to build upon existing relationships to further partnerships," Wolf added.
Training isn't the only place Wolf wants to find ways to work together. This combination of effort is necessary in combatant craft design as well.
In 1988, SOCOM approved a vision for a family of vessels, and NSW embarked upon one of the most aggressive combatant craft development and procurement programs in recent history. This program was effective; in 2000, SOCOM and the U.S. Navy achieved global preeminence in modern maritime interoperability. Today, more than 15 countries have, or will soon, exceed U.S. combatant craft capabilities, according to Wolf.
While speaking at the recent Multi-Agency Craft Conference aboard Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., June 17, Wolf briefed his vision of combatant craft development.
"We have to make a standard process out of non-standard partnerships," he said.
For instance, a SWCC detachment is aboard the DoD's high-speed experimental boat Stiletto, currently supporting U.S. and multinational counter-illicit trafficking operations and conducting operational testing. The 88-foot long, 60-ton Stiletto will deploy to the Caribbean basin through the summer under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet and tactical control of Joint Interagency Task Force-South. Stiletto is manned by a joint U.S. Army and Navy crew and includes an embarked U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment.
Wolf said working together in new ways allows NSWG-4 to meet demand, as well as focus on procuring a new family of craft, all designed to meet baseline requirements of speed, range and payload, as well as improved communications while operating. Other specifications include improved strike capability, the ability to launch and recover unmanned aerial systems, higher performance propulsion, an integrated bridge system, improved ride quality, virtual training capabilities, low observable attributes and improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability.
"NSWG-4 can support the range of operations from pre-hostility capacity building to post-war resolution. We continue to evolve to maintain maritime dominance, and the new family of craft will ensure we can continue to perform any mission asked of us," said Wolf.
For more news from Naval Special Warfare Group 4, visit www.navy.mil/local/nswg4/.
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