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Military operations in low-intensity conflict (LIC) support political, economic, and informational actions. Planning for low-intensity conflict is the same as planning for war and may involve direct military action. However, the objectives are generally to support friendly governments in ways short of direct action.

Contingency operations are usually joint operations. They involve the projection of CONUS-based forces into a joint forces command (JFC) area of responsibility. The Army corps headquarters may form the nucleus of a joint task force. This task force plans, integrates, and acts at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war. To achieve a rapid and decisive response, the closure of forces into the area must be carefully managed.

This chapter discusses watercraft operations in low-intensity conflict and contingency operations. FM 100-20 contains more information on LIC; FM 100-15, on contingency operations.



LIC is a limited political-military confrontation between contending states or groups below conventional war but above routine, peaceful competition among states. It frequently involves protracted struggles of competing principles and ideologies. LIC ranges from subversion to the use of armed force. It is waged by a combination of means employing political, economic, informational, and military instruments. LIC is often localized.

US Army Missions

Army support to military operations in LIC falls into four broad categories: support for insurgency and counterinsurgency, combatting terrorism, peacekeeping operations, and peacetime contingency operations.

Support for insurgency and counterinsurgency includes support for either an incumbent government or an insurgent.

Combatting terrorism includes protecting installations, units, and individuals from terrorist threats.

Peacekeeping operations include military operations and peacekeeping forces designed to keep already obtained peace.

Peacetime contingency operations are politically sensitive military activities normally characterized by short term, rapid projection or employment of forces in conditions short of war. They include such diverse actions as noncombatant evacuation operations, disaster relief, and peacemaking. They frequently occur away from customary facilities, thus requiring deep penetration and temporary establishment of long lines of communications (LOCs) in a hostile environment. Planning for contingency operations will normally occur at the unified command level using time-sensitive planning techniques and crisis action procedures.

Watercraft Operation Support

Watercraft operations planners at all command levels must be involved in the planning process. They should determine the magnitude of watercraft requirements for the area of operations and recommend the force structure to support the requirements during deployment, employment, and redeployment.

Watercraft operations planners must coordinate with intelligence personnel to get specific information on the availability and capacities of seaports, inland waterways, and terminal facilities, and transportation intelligence data.

Watercraft requirements vary based on the mission and number and type of units deployed. They may range from a single logistics support vessel (LSV) to a battalion-size watercraft unit. Whatever the requirement, these units must deploy early, establish communication with echelon above corps (EAC) units, and rapidly engage in cargo movement to support LIC.

Basic missions and tasks are still key requirements in LIC. Forces must be deployed sustained, and redeployed. Army watercraft operations planners must anticipate and be flexible and innovative. Without effective control of watercraft movements, the sustained synchronization of logistical support to the military forces could severely limit an operation's success.


Planning for corps contingency operations consists of planning for predeployment, deployment, buildup, employment, and redeployment phases of a low- or mid-intensity conflict. Contingency operations planners normally plan Army water transport operations to support contingency forces during the buildup and employment phases. To a lesser degree, strategic planners may consider using Army vessels with ocean-going capabilities during predeployment to transport limited cargo from CONUS. During redeployment, Army water transport units may be tasked to support retrograde operations.

Force Buildup

During force buildup, Army water transport units have vital responsibilities. They transport supplies and equipment from the seaport of debarkation (SPOD) and support COSCOM mission objectives. Contingency operations planners and terminal commanders must plan for Army watercraft use to relieve terminal congestion and shorten LOCs along coastal areas and the host nation inland waterway system.


The only difference between the employment and buildup phases is the attainment of military objectives. Army water transport missions in the area of operation remain the same.

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