Littoral Warfare: Adapting To Brown-Water Operations
SUBJECT AREA - Operations
Title: Littoral Warfare: Adapting to Brown-Water Operations
Author: LCDR Frank J. Murphy, United States Navy
Thesis: Littoral warfare is not a new naval warfare function and focusing on
it will not require the Navy to enact major warfighting reforms; instead, the
Navy must capitalize on its historically proven capabilities and adapt
traditional naval warfare functions to expeditionary operations carried out
near the world's coastlines.
Background: To meet the new security challenges in the post-Cold War world,
the Navy has declared in its White Paper "From the Sea" a shift in strategic
focus away from open-ocean warfighting to littoral warfare. Even though
maritime history has demonstrated that littoral warfare is a more real
application of naval combat power, focusing on it represents a radical
departure from the Navy's previously stated doctrine and strategy. Still, the
same warfare functions that applied to open-ocean combat against a superpower
naval adversary, are applicable to littoral warfare against regional powers.
Littoral warfare encompasses the landward as well as the seward portions of
the battlespace. It describes the geographic area where the Navy envisions
conducting its likely missions, which range from forward positioning of forces
to contain crises to the introduction of naval expeditionary forces and power
projection ashore to resolve them. But the Navy must do more than restate its
strategic focus. Although it has the capability to execute littoral warfare
missions, several warfare deficiencies limit the scale and scope of its
warfighting effectiveness in the littoral battlespace.
Conclusion: To correct these deficiencies, changes to Navy's training and
education program, improvements to its equipment, and adjustments to its
support infrastructure are necessary. The Navy will become irrelevant in the
new strategic landscape unless it adapts to brown-water operations.
Adapting to Brown-Water Operations
Thesis: Littoral warfare is not a new naval warfare function and focusing on
it will not require the Navy to enact major warfighting reforms. The same
warfare functions that applied to open-ocean combat against a superpower naval
adversary are applicable to littoral warfare against regional powers. To be
an effective naval force, the Navy must capitalize on its historically proven
capabilities and adapt traditional naval warfare functions to expeditionary
operations carried out near the world's coastlines.
I. New Warfighting Focus
A. "From the Sea"
B. New security environment
1. Potential threats/challenges
2. Force downsizing
3. Withdrawal from overseas bases/presence
4. Force relevance
1. Littoral battlespace
2. Geographic vice functional focus
3. Naval warfare functions
D. New battlespace requirements
1. Traditional & non-traditional missions
2. Training, equipping, supporting
II. Force Structure & Equipment
A. Anti-Air Warfare
B. Anti-Surface Warfare
C. Anti-Submarine Warfare
D. Amphibious warfare
E. Naval Shore Fire Support
F. Mine Warfare
G. Space and Electronic Warfare
H. Force mix & operations
III. Training and Education
A. In-shore vs. open ocean
A. Shallow-water & beachhead emphasis
C. Joint/combined flavor
D. Amphib-CWC integration
IV. Support Infrastructure
B. Intelligence support
C. Information management & data exchange
D. C2 & surveillance
IV. The Ideal
A. Fog of the littorals
B. Maintaining the mindset of expeditionary warfare
1. Battlespace dominance
2. Maneuver warfare from the sea
3. Joint interoperability focus
The recently published White Paper "From the Sea" declared a shift in
the Navy's strategic focus away from open-ocean warfare "on the sea" to a
primary warfighting emphasis on littoral warfare conducted "from the sea."
This focus on littoral warfare represents a radical departure from the Navy's
previously stated maritime doctrine and reason for being and it aligns its
maritime strategy with current national security priorities.
Although "From the Sea" delineated a new direction in naval warfighting,
it is not about revolutionary change to naval warfare. Littoral warfare is
not a new naval warfare function and focusing on it will not require the Navy
to enact major warfighting reforms. The same warfare functions that were
relevant to open-ocean combat against a superpower adversary, can be applied
to littoral warfare.
But littoral warfare will require some changes. The key changes will be
to what missions the Navy executes, where it executes them, how it prepares
its forces for these missions, and the quality of the equipment and support it
gives to its forces. To remain a relevant and effective naval force then, the
Navy must capitalize on its historically proven capabilities and adapt
traditional naval warfare functions to expeditionary operations carried out
predominantly near the world's coastlines.
New Security Environment. During the Cold War, the Navy's maritime strategy
was appropriately focused on countering the Soviet naval threat. The Navy
concentrated on the ability to wage global war at sea against a superpower
adversary. But the world has changed dramatically in recent years. The
collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War have presented a new
set of less distinct and more complex challenges to our military forces.
Sudden regional wars are now considered the most likely contingencies. Budget
constraints, force downsizing, and the steady withdrawal of forces from
overseas bases have complicated these security challenges.
For the Navy, this new security environment has meant that its blue-
water, maritime strategy is no longer applicable to its likely future
missions. Most of the areas of instability and social strife today are in
major cities and urban areas that are most easily accessed by seaward
approaches. In fact, 60 percent of the politically significant urban areas
around the world are located within 25 miles of the coastline; 75 percent are
located within 150 miles.(20:2) The military actions taken to protect U.S.
interests and property in these areas will most likely come from the sea. The
emergence of potential threats in these areas demanding increased U.S.
presence in the littoral regions, coupled with the fiscal constraints reducing
the presence of U.S. military forces overseas has meant its naval forces will
likely play an even more important role in the defense of U.S. interests
To meet these new security challenges and to be in concert with the new
security environment, the Navy used "From the Sea" to declare its shift in
strategic priorities to an emphasis on joint expeditionary operations
conducted in the littoral regions and thereby maintain its relevance as a key
instrument of national policy protecting U.S. interests abroad.
Definitions: Before beginning a more in-depth examination of the implications
of littoral warfare on naval forces, some definitions are in order to level
the playing field. "From the Sea" defines littoral as the "near land" areas
or coastlines of the world. It is comprised of two segments of the
battlespace: Seaward--covering the area from the open ocean to the shore--and
Landward--covering the area inland from the shore that can be supported and
defended directly from the sea. In contrast to the vast ocean areas called
"blue water" where our naval forces have historically trained to conduct
strikes against powerful fleets, the littoral regions are frequently
characterized by confined and congested water and air space occupied by
friends, adversaries, and neutrals. The Navy affectionately calls this area
near the coastline the "brown-water" area.
In many ways, littoral warfare is not much different from how U.S. naval
forces have actually been employed throughout their history. From the Barbary
Coast Wars in the Mediterranean in the early 1800's, to the Frigate Diplomacy
of the later 19th century, to the island-hopping campaign in the Pacific in
World War II, U.S. naval forces demonstrated their expeditionary and power
projection capabilities. Time and again U.S. naval forces have demonstrated
their political usefulness by responding to regional crises occurring near the
world's coastlines. For instance, the U.S. has employed naval forces in over
150 of the 200 plus regional crises that have involved U.S. interests since
World War II primarily because of seaward access.(19:3-12)
Littoral warfare then is actually not a new form of naval warfare but a
geographical location where traditional forms of naval warfare--Anti-Air
Warfare (AAW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW); Mine
Warfare; Space and Electronic Warfare (SEW), and Amphibious Warfare--may be
conducted to execute the variety of missions required in today's security
Each of the traditional naval warfare functions designed to counter the
Soviet naval threat "on the sea" can be applied to forward presence and
expeditionary operations in the littoral battlespace. The scale of operations
will change, but the basic functions remain. Certain areas, such as shallow-
water ASW and mine countermeasures (MCM) should receive more attention;
others, such as deep-water ASW, can be de-emphasized. The key to littoral
warfare will be to obtain and maintain battlespace dominance near the
coastline and inland so that expeditionary forces can be introduced rapidly
New Battlespace Requirements. Littoral warfare describes the geographical
areas where the Naval Service envisions conducting its most likely missions.
It can encompass a variety of operations from forward presence in peacetime,
to crisis response in hot spots occurring near the coastlines of the world,
and, if necessary, to the introduction of expeditionary forces as the initial
enabling capability for sustained operations ashore. Within the context of
the new strategic landscape, littoral warfare may also entail conducting such
non-traditional military missions as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief,
counter-terrorism, and political stability operations, such as
interpositioning, peacekeeping, and civic action/nation building.
Although U.S. naval forces have a proven ability to influence events
ashore, several deficiencies exist in the training, equipping, and support of
key warfare functions. These deficiencies limit the scale and scope of the
Navy and Marine Corps' warfighting effectiveness against the increasingly
vague, yet powerful, regional threats. However, to overcome these
deficiencies does not require major reforms to traditional naval warfare
functions. Instead, the Naval Service must build on its historically proven
characteristics to reshape its force structure and equipment to be able to
conduct a wider range of traditional and non-traditional military missions in
the littoral battlespace, reorient its training and education programs to be
relevant to littoral warfare, and reconstitute its support infrastructure to
adjust to the logistics, intelligence, information data-exchange, and command
and control (C2) requirements of joint operations conducted in the littoral
regions of the Third World.
Force Structure and Equipment
In essence, the Navy and Marine Corps have the basic force structure and
equipment in place to conduct littoral warfare within the context of regional
crises and non-traditional military missions. No nation currently has the
power to prevent U.S. naval forces from dominating anywhere at sea,
establishing and maintaining local control of any littoral area when needed,
projecting power ashore whenever called on to protect U.S. interests.(3:21)
But that is not to say that more shouldn't be done. Several platform
and equipment deficiencies exist which, if ignored, will limit the Naval
service's ability to execute missions in the littoral regions. In general,
the Navy should shift the programming and development emphasis to ships better
suited for littoral operations. It should program for equipment that will
improve the ability to conduct littoral warfare and ensure the U.S. maintains
its technological advantage. And, it should look for new and better ways to
employ existing forces.
The following more specific force structure recommendations, framed
within the context of the Navy's traditional warfare functions, will put the
Navy and Marine Corps in a better position to conduct littoral warfare:
Anti-Air Warfare. The Naval Service must maintain its high-tech advantage in
aircraft and air defense equipment and weapons systems. DESERT STORM vividly
demonstrated that high-tech systems will defeat low-tech systems. However,
the proliferation of high-tech missile systems to Third-World countries
mandate that U.S. naval forces work to keep their technological advantage in
all warfare areas.
Force air defense, both for the fleet at sea and the troops ashore, will
continue to be critical to success of littoral warfare missions. Defense
against tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs) is just as important to the troops
ashore as defense against coastal defense cruise missiles is to the fleet
supporting those troops close to the shore. Unfortunately, several Third-
World countries now possess large quantities of these missiles. Many
countries are on the verge of obtaining low-observable technology which will
lower the radar cross section of missiles and aircraft posing a threat to
naval forces operating in the littoral areas. The in-shore clutter and
reduced time/distance battlespace in the littoral environment complicate the
problem for existing Navy early warning, tracking, and targeting systems which
were optimized for use in the open ocean.
To overcome these deficiencies, the Navy must continue to improve such
systems as its AEGIS/SPY-1 AAW combat system and the SM-2 surface-to-air
missile system for force air and missile defense.
Anti-Surface Warfare. The aircraft carrier continues to be the Navy's
centerpiece for ASUW. In many ways, the aircraft carrier as currently used
and equipped is more relevant today than in the days of the Soviet threat.
The carrier airwing is optimized for regional conflict. All its components
functionally are capable of performing both forward presence and crisis
response missions in the littoral regions. At a recent Naval Institute
Seminar on the future of air warfare, RADM Riley Mixon, Director of Air
Warfare Division in the Office of the CNO, supported the view that Naval
Aviation--Navy and Marine air power--offers capabilities for the ambiguous
international environment of the 1990's and 21st century. Admiral Mixson went
on to say that with a doctrine emphasizing excellence in littoral warfare,
power projection, and joint operations, carrier aviation remains a pivotal
force because of its capability to generate "high-intensity, power-projection
sorties" at the time and place of our choosing. (22:80)
With training and weapons systems superior to any Third-World country
today, carrier aviation is capable of not just striking enemy surface forces,
Naval aviation has long had the ability to project power ashore, destroying or
interdicting enemy ground forces and infrastructure, and to provide close-air
support (CAS) for expeditionary forces during amphibious operations. While
deep strikes--beyond 300 nm inland--are not strictly required for littoral
warfare missions, the Navy must still maintain the capability. Air Force
assets can provide more air power, but they require a forward operating base
to provide sustained combat power. Carrier aviation assets must maintain its
ability to conduct deep strikes and presence missions when airfields are not
available in the region.
The increased use of naval forces for crisis response and regional
contingencies coupled with the real potential for fewer carriers in the
future, will mean smaller surface combatants will be used to provide more than
just a presence in the littoral regions. They must have the combat power to
operate independently from the carrier to deter and contain regional conflict
and to project power ashore. Modifying all Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)-class
destroyers to support helos and equipping at least some of those helos with an
attack capability will enhance this AEGIS ship's ability to do ASUW and
support expeditionary operations in the littoral areas. Additionally, surface
combatants must be equipped with the detection and tracking equipment that
provide better target classification in the high-clutter environment of
coastal operations. And they must have the weapons systems to counter the
likely small craft threat in the littoral region.
Anti-Submarine Warfare. The Navy is the undisputed world leader in ASW. It
has excellent training and best ASW equipment in the world. Navy subs have an
important role to play in littoral warfare. Submarines can influence the land
battle by conducting stealth strikes against land-based targets with TOMAHAWK
land-attack cruise missiles (TLAMs). Submarines can also be used to conduct
covert surveillance and insertion of special forces against the enemy close to
However, the number of countries with submarines and related
technologies is growing steadily and is cause for concern. Iran recently took
delivery of its first of three Russian Kilo-class diesel submarines and is
rapidly preparing to conduct operations in and near the Persian Gulf. To
counter threats such as this, the Navy must exploit its high-tech advantages
to overcome shortfalls resulting from ASW weapons and equipment designed
primarily to operate in an open-ocean environment.
The ability to conduct shallow-water (<200 feet) ASW is essential to
littoral warfare. However, the Navy does not have a sonar or a weapon that
can operate effectively in shallow water. Its torpedoes have problem with
bottom and surface capture. Current Navy detection and tracking sonars were
optimized for the deep-water threat expected against the Soviet Navy and are
not effective in shallow water. The Navy needs to modify existing systems
where it can and develop and deploy new shallow-water systems. But this must
not come at the expense of eliminating all deep-water ASW, because that
technology and proficiency once lost may never be regained.
Amphibious Warfare. Amphibious warfare plays an essential role in projecting
sustainable combat power ashore in support of national interests.
Unfortunately, the Navy has neglected its amphibious shipping in favor of the
more glamorous carrier aviation and submarine fleets. That trend must be
reversed to maintain amphibious warfare as a viable military option.
Successful amphibious warfare in the future will depend on the Navy-
Marine Corps team's ability to conduct operational maneuver from the sea
(OMFTS). OMFTS applies the principles of maneuver warfare--speed, firepower,
surprise, and lift--to break down enemy defenses without the traditional
frontal assaults seen in the Pacific in World War II and at Inchon in the
OMFTS calls for a different mindset. In OMFTS, the amphibious battle
begins at sea, not on the beach. Launches can occur out as far as 100 nm to
ensure security and tactical surprise or they can occur closer offshore. In
OMFTS, naval forces use their speed and combat power to penetrate a number of
different sites on the beach and establish a beachhead or rapidly drive
inland. At a recent amphibious warfare roundtable discussion, the Navy and
Marine Corps amphibious warfare leaders, RADM LaPlante and Maj. Gen Jenkins,
both agreed that, "the World War II amphibious frontal assaults are remote
possibilities in today's modern warfare." Instead, the majority of forcible
entry missions will be accomplished through "high-speed maneuver from the
sea." According to Admiral LaPlante, the combination of helos, air-cushioned
landing craft (LCAC), and light-armored infantry are the "heart of maneuver
warfare and the most viable means to overcome the difficulties inherent in the
littoral warfare environment." (10 :36)
Contributing to the decreasing likelihood of major frontal assaults is
the lack of the ability to conduct rapid logistics buildup ashore with fewer
amphibious ships in the force. Even in DESERT STORM, the Navy would have
found it difficult to have sustained 4TH MEB past the normal 15-days of
supplies it carries, if 4TH MEB had conducted an amphibius operation in
While OMFTS is doable with today's forces, several deficiencies in the
amphibious force limit the scope of its capabilities. The Navy must act
quickly to modernize its amphibious fleet. Shortly after the year 2000,
several classes of amphibs will reach the end of their service life. By the
year 2007, 80 percent of today's amphibs will retire, including all of its
LST-class tank landing craft, all of its LSD-class dock landing ships, and all
five Charleston-class LKA amphibious cargo ships.(3:30)
If the Navy fails to modernize its amphibious fleet, it will not have
sufficient transport, ship-to-shore lift, aviation, and command and control to
put the maximum combat power ashore rapidly with minimal risk to personnel and
equipment. Some help is coming. The Navy is procuring at least seven LHD-
class amphibious assault and command ships to replace some of the big-deck
amphibious ships being retired. It must continue with plans to build the new
class of amphibious ship, the LX, to replace its retiring LPD-class ships. If
the Navy does not build the LX, by the year 2007 its amphibious fleet will not
have the capability to support amphibious lift requirements and its deploying
amphibious ready groups will be reduced to two ships.(3:30) With its
projected lift, speed, and combat power, the LX will serve not only as a
secondary aviation platform similar to the LPD class, but as a platform around
which the Navy and Marine Corps can deploy a forward presence and crisis
The Naval Service needs more LCACs to replace aging displacement craft,
a new amphibious assault vehicle (AAV), a new medium lift transport to replace
the CH-46, and more assault helos such as the AH-1 Apache to provide close-in-
fire support (CIFS) so vital to the lightly armored infantry. These platforms
will provide the Marines with the combat power and speed to conduct forcible
entries. They also will contribute to the survivability of the amphibious
task force and permit the rapid buildup of combat power ashore.
LCACs have more lift, speed, and versatility than assault displacement
craft and, when equipped with the GPS satellite navigation system, can move at
night. Operation DESERT STORM proved that LCACs are reliable enough to
withstand multiple transportation waves and not as vulnerable to enemy fires
as previously thought.(10:36) Further, the need for LCACs to provide the tank
lift ashore will increase as LSTs are retired.
To enhance the ship-to-shore lift capability more, the Marines need to
replace the current AAV, which still employs World War II technology and has a
maximum speed of only 7 knots, with one that is faster and has more mobility
both at sea and on land. A mobile and agile AAV will be the key to the rapid
buildup of troops and equipment ashore.
Another key factor in high-speed maneuver from the sea is the Marines'
medium lift helo. The CH-46 transport helo has reached the end of its service
usefulness. Current airframes are experiencing mounting technical
difficulties that effect readiness and combat effectiveness.(3:30) It is
beyond the scope of this paper to discuss whether the Marines should purchase
the V-22 Osprey, buy a new medium lift helo, or just upgrade the CH-53.
Suffice it to say, to meet the future requirements of lift ashore during
missions such as amphibious assaults, raids, and non-combatant evacuation
operations (NEOs), the Marine Corps needs a medium lift replacement for the
CH-46 that has the lift, tactical mobility, range, speed, and survivability
required for maneuver warfare from the sea.
Naval Shore Fire Support. Although not a naval warfare function per say,
naval shore fire support (NSFS) is a key component of littoral warfare
operations and needs to be addressed. Supporting Marines ashore from naval
ships is a critical priority for the Corps and the Navy given the likelihood
of future involvement in Third-World operations in the littoral environment.
"Recent events in the Persian Gulf have graphically demonstrated the need to
make quantum improvements in naval gunfire support," Admiral Frank Kelso,
chief of naval operations (CNO), said in a recent memorandum detailing Navy
budget cuts. (9:23)
The Marine Corps understands the need for NSFS during amphibious
operations all too well and it knows there may be instances when it has to
rely on the Navy to provide it. For example, if 4TH MEB had actually
conducted an amphibious assault against Iraqi forces in Kuwait during DESERT
STORM, carrier aviation would have been the only means for CAS as 3RD Marine
Air Wing (MAW) assets were dedicated to direct support of Marine 1ST and 2ND
Division forces attacking on the ground from Saudi Arabia.
Optimally, NSFS should integrate naval gunfire support (NGFS), limited
use of Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles (TLAM) fired from surface and
subsurface platforms, both carrier- and combatant-based aviation conducting
CAS and close-in-fire support (CIFS) to troops ashore, and the use of other
missiles and rockets in support of expeditionary forces ashore.
NSFS assets and capabilities look formidable on paper, however, some
deficiencies still exist. For one, CAS competency among Navy aircrews is
lacking due to insufficient training. The Navy needs to conduct more CAS
training and exercises with the Marine Corps and the Army to increase the crew
proficiency and enhance the coordination between the shooters and the forward
observers on the ground.
Despite the loss of the 16-inch gun aboard the Navy's retired
battleships, NGFS will continue to play a vital role in the family of NSFS
systems. The Navy has settled on deploying a single 5-inch gun aboard its
newest combatants. This gun has the range (25k yards), accuracy, and rate of
fire (200 rounds/min) to meet current gunfire missions. New gun technologies
should still be explored; however, the emphasis on operational maneuver from
the sea may alter the scale of investment. "I don't think you can rule [guns]
out, but we're not going to do World War II-style amphibious assaults" in the
future, Marine Maj. Gen. Harry Jenkins, director of expeditionary warfare,
said in a recent interview.(9:23) This may diminish the importance of gun
technology for meeting future fire support missions.
Mine Warfare. Mine Warfare, and in particular mine countermeasures (MCM), is
an integral part of amphibious warfare and therefore, plays a critical role in
littoral warfare. Experiences in peacetime crises, regional conflicts, and
global wars have taught us that mines present a formidable threat to our
ability to achieve and maintain sea control and project power. That threat is
amplified in the littoral battlespace. When one considers the fact that the
former Soviet mine inventory includes between 250-450,000 mines and that many
of these could be sold to Third-World nations whose mine stocks already number
more than 100,000, the full dimension of the seriousness of this threat comes
into focus. As ADM Frank B. Kelso observed,
"Mines are the true stealth weapon of the 90's...The potential
threat of mines to the movement of U.S. Navy ships and subs and to the
commercial oceanborne trade carried on by practically all maritime
nations is indeed global in scope and complexity--and demands a clearly
focused MCM effort." (11:41)
Unfortunately, the area where the Naval Service is weakest is in
conducting MCM in the littoral region. Current MCM assets have minimal
capability to conduct MCM in the shallow-water (200-40 feet), very shallow
water (40-10 feet), surf zone (10 feet to the high water mark), and beachhead
areas. Currently, the best mine-clearing technique is the brute force method
which uses a combination of minesweepers to blow boat lanes to the surf zone
and helicopterborne assets to seize and isolate the mined beachhead. This
technique requires too much time and a controlled environment containing no
direct or observed indirect fire. Additionally, the mine-free lanes are too
narrow to support a heavy assault because the Navy does not have the transport
room to embark the personnel and equipment necessary for more extensive MCM
measures. This must change.
Mines and physical obstacles in the shallow water, the surf zone, and
the craft landing zone (the region from the high water mark inland) present a
serious challenge to amphibious operations. Unless the Navy and Marine Corps
improve their MCM efforts, it will have to abandon the concept of amphibious
assaults across defended, hostile beaches. The Navy must examine closely its
capabilities to conduct MCM in the littoral regions that will support a
coordinated Navy-Marine Corps breaching effort. Although deep-water MCM
forces will need to be maintained, the emphasis for the foreseeable future
should be on the development of shallow-water MCM equipment, training, and
procedures to combat the types of mines likely to be encountered in the
littoral areas of Third-World regional powers. Some specific recommendations
for improving MCM include:
1. Equipping all amphibious assault and MCM platforms with GPS
satellite navigation receivers for mine avoidance and precise detection of
2. Improved shallow-water sensors such as remotely-operated,
influence sweepers acting as a precursor to surface sweepers
3. Development of rapid mine-clearing equipment, neutralization
techniques, and obstacle-breaching systems
4. Better mine detection and avoidance sonars on MCM ships and
other naval combatants
5. MCM C2 ships to provide better support to the MCM commander
and his staff and enhance the coordination with naval forces on ships, in the
air, and ashore
6. Dedicated platforms to provide maintenance and logistics
support for on-station units.
7. Use of special warfare teams to detect the size and
composition of seaward and surf-zone minefields
8. Exploring the use of LCACs and submarines as MCM platforms
9. Improved sweeping capability for the MHC-53 helos and MCM-1
10. Developing international cooperation to exchange MCM data and
conduct shallow-water MCM training with coalition partners
Space and Electronic Warfare. Current U.S. Navy and Marine Corps warfighting
doctrine is shaped by a heavy reliance on space and electronic warfare (SEW)
for command and control, communication links, information management, and
techniques to monitor and attack enemy sensors. Littoral warfare accentuates
this reliance. DESERT STORM demonstrated that SEW is a true force multiplier
and that having a technological advantage in SEW is vital to success on the
battlefield. According to John Davis, chief scientist at Navy's Space and
Electronic Warfare Directorate, when conducted properly, SEW can, "win wars at
less cost in lives and money and may also be used to resolve a crisis without
combat by so deceiving, deterring, or disorganizing an enemy that it abandons
There is a growing area of concern the Naval Service needs to address.
According to Duane Andrews, former assistant secretary of defense for command,
control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I), as the U.S.
military increases its use of commercial electronics to link combat,
logistics, and administrative computer networks, it is becoming extremely
vulnerable to the enemy's use of attacks against our C4I systems. Despite the
success seen in DESERT STORM, our information and communications security is
atrocious, Andrews said, and, to worsen matters, "commercial electronics can
be easily bought and analyzed by computer experts working for an enemy
The U.S. military needs to explore ways to protect C2 links and sensors
from enemy interference techniques ranging from spreading false information to
deceive our leaders, blinding our sensors, launching missile attacks on U.S.
C4I centers, and crippling computers with software viruses.(14:1) The Naval
Service must be a full partner in the joint defense world to maintain the U.S.
SEW technology advantage and develop the means to protect its C4I systems from
Force Mix and Operations. If the Navy is to remain the Nation's premier
forward presence and crisis response force, it must continue to provide a
flexible yet potent force. Given the force downsizing, the geographical
dispersion of potential crises and conflicts in the littoral regions, and the
variety of missions to be executed, the Naval Service needs to get smarter on
how to operate. The Navy needs to move away from the idea that the aircraft
carrier is the centerpiece of the forward presence and crisis response
mission. To meet the operational commitments of littoral warfare given fewer
forces, the Navy must explore the concept of using flexible force mixes that
revolve around the full range of its combat fleet, including AEGIS ships,
Spruance-class destroyers, SSN-688-class submarines, and amphibious big decks.
Efforts along this line are already underway. CINCLANTFLT is
experimenting with a new concept called Adaptive Force Packaging that applies
innovative force mixes to create naval expeditionary forces centered on the
LHD, LPH, and LHA as well as the carrier. Starting this year, CINCLANTFLT
will deploy various amounts of amphibious warfare capabilities on deploying
carriers USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS America. It will also provide a token
ASUW strike force capability on USS Wasp's (LHD-1) maiden deployment as the
flagship for a Marine Amphibious Ready Group. Such efforts are appropriate
and should be monitored to see they remain relevant and viable in the out-
Navy and Marine Corps training is conducted to prepare forces to conduct
the most likely projected missions in an efficient manner. No major training
reforms will be required to conduct littoral warfare. Training will still be
required in the traditional warfare functions noted above. The changes will
be on the emphasis and scale given to each warfare function.
To be effective in the littoral warfare environment, the Navy and Marine
1. Decrease independent, open-ocean, war-at-sea training
evolutions and increase the emphasis on closer, in-shore training
2. Require integrated mine warfare training between MCM and
amphibious forces focused on shallow-water MCM, beachhead mine clearing, and
offensive mine laying operations
3. Emphasize shallow-water ASW training to counter the growing
submarine threat of Third-World regional powers
4. Emphasize AAW training to counter the increasingly
sophisticated and accurate missile threat and to increase the proficiency of
handling these AAW threats in the reduced time-distance decision environment
inherent to the littoral battlespace
5. Conduct joint training on a regular basis with Army and Air
Force in areas exercising all warfare functions pertinent to littoral warfare,
especially CAS, CIFS, NSFS, air interdiction against land targets, and air
defense of troops ashore
6. Introduce the concept of focus of main effort into the Navy's
Composite Warfare Commander's (CWC) concept and integrate CWC into amphibious
operations. Amphibious operations always incorporate focus of main effort.
CWC is used as a controlling agent for the naval warfare functions. The Navy
understands little about focus of main effort and most Marines are not
familiar with CWC
7. Emphasize all elements of the amphibious operation during
exercises, including the assault follow-on echelon and logistics-over-the-
shore (LOTS) capabilities to ensure the Navy can in fact provide sustained
logistics support to forces ashore
8. Conduct combined operations training with allies to improve
cooperation and instill more awareness and mutual understanding of doctrine,
tactics, and capabilities.
In general, the Naval Service has the basic infrastructure in place to
support expeditionary operations a littoral warfare environment. However, as
a result of DESERT STORM and RESTORE HOPE, some problems have surfaced which
demand the Naval Service reconstitute its support infrastructure in four areas
more relevant to littoral warfare: sealift; intelligence support; information
management-data exchange; and command and control and surveillance.
Sealift. Strategic lift is essential to Marine Corps sustainment ashore
during littoral operations. Ninety percent of this sustainment comes via
sealift. The Marine's Maritime Prepositioning force (MPF) consisting of 13
ships combined with U.S. Transportation Command's (USTRANSCOM) fleet of Ready
Reserve Force (RRF) sealift ships and the Army's steadily growing fleet of
Fast Sealift Ships (FSS) have demonstrated the ability to provide rapid
strategic lift in support of the buildup and sustained movement of forces
overseas during crises. These ships were integral to the success of
operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM delivering over three million tons of
dry cargo and six million tons of fuel to Southwest Asia.(3:31)
The Department of Defense recently conducted a Mobility Requirement
Study (MRS) to examine lift requirements through the end of the 1990s. Since
it was based on the need for rapid power projection from prepositioned assets
or bases in the U.S., several of its recommendations relate directly to the
support of littoral warfare missions. These include:
1. Improved LOTS capabilities for all MPF ships to facilitate the
ship-to-shore movement of supplies and equipment during an in-stream offload
2. An additional 20 large, medium-speed roll on/roll off (RO/RO)
vessels in the strategic sealift force (MPF, RRF, and FSS) to carry Marine
Corps AAVs, armored vehicles, and trucks
3. Improved readiness of all sealift ships through better
maintenance and more frequent activations
4. Advances in ship design and construction, propulsion systems,
and cargo handling techniques
5. Improved road, rail, C2, and port infrastructure in the United
Intelligence Support. The intelligence support infrastructure will have to
make some major adjustments to provide more timely and relevant analysis on
the more diverse, less distinct, Third-World threats likely to be encountered
in the littoral warfare climate.
Since the end of World War II, the U.S. naval intelligence community has
focused predominantly on the collection, analysis, and production of data on
the Soviet military threat. The new strategic landscape requires that the
intelligence community change that focus. The predominant role of the
intelligence throughout the 1990s will be to support the Naval Service
conducting traditional expeditionary warfare as well as the more likely
missions of humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, disaster relief, and
political stability occurring near the world's coastlines.
Adjustments to refocus intelligence support to expeditionary operations
in the Third World should include:
1. Collection, analysis, and production of intelligence on
unconventional as well as conventional threats
2. Improved coverage and availability of maps and charts for
3. Addressing the serious deficiency in hydrographic surveys and
port and airfield studies for these countries
4. Obtaining/cataloging oceanographic data--water temperature,
pressure gradients, depths, and bottom contours--for the littoral waters of
5. Developing the methodology for collecting, analyzing, and
producing in-depth terrain, weather, and cross-country mobility studies
6. Establishing a baseline knowledge of civil, political,
cultural, religious, and language factors about Third-World countries
7. Increasing the emphasis on tracking gray arms sales and
technology transfers involving Third World transit points and recipients
8. Exploring ways to exploit open-source intelligence sources to
complement standard intelligence sources--human, signals, and imagery(21:1-4)
Information Management-Data Exchange. Improving the intelligence information
and data exchange will be critical to the timely dissemination of intelligence
to consumers. With smaller forces and more data to collect, analyze, and
track, the Navy needs to work smarter with fully integrated computers and
communications links increases. The Navy and Marine Corps need to be joint
partners in upgrading the C4I capability on their big deck amphibious ships
and not just on Navy carriers and flagships. Deployed amphibious ships must
be able to exchange data with the amphibious landing force and troops ashore
as well as with the carrier and national intelligence centers. Equipping
amphibious big decks with super-high frequency communications will provide the
connectivity and networking with theater- and national-level data bases.
C2 and Surveillance. C2 and surveillance are the keys to effective and
efficient joint operations. To operate more smartly in the littoral
battlespace, the Navy and Marine Corps need to field integrated and netted
sensors that provide timely and accurate targeting data on the enemy and
emphasize the early and covert surveillance with a regional focus. One of the
ways to do this would be to deploy more remotely-piloted vehicles (RPVs) on
amphibious ships. As demonstrated in DESERT STORM, RPVs can provide the
amphibious task force with real-time situation updates on the enemy at the
coast and inland both prior to and during assault operations.
Throughout their history, the Navy and Marine Corps have served as the
nation's fire brigade, deploying forces capable of responding to a variety of
crises worldwide. The Marine Corps has always been comfortable in this role,
whereas the Navy has always considered it secondary to its primary mission of
commanding the seas and being prepared to defeat the enemy's fleet at sea.
"From the Sea" has altered the Navy's direction. The Navy must still
maintain control of the seas, but the new security environment has changed the
predominant location of the Navy's likely missions and dictated that the Navy
enter a crisis area with sea and air battlespace dominance. Therefore, the
Navy must now learn how to navigate in the fog of the littorals by joining its
sister service in executing expeditionary operations in defense of U.S.
Littoral warfare is a geographical vice functional focus and, therefore,
does not require major reforms to existing U.S. naval warfighting functions.
To be successful in littoral warfare, the Navy must adapt the tools and
procedures developed to fight on the open ocean to joint operations conducted
from the sea. And, to ensure that littoral warfare can be executed
effectively and efficiently well into the future, the Navy must maintain the
mindset of naval expeditionary warfare that uses the principles of maneuver
warfare in a maritime environment and emphasizes joint interoperability. This
mindset must drive the force structure, the training and education, and the
support infrastructure. If the Navy fails to keep this mindset and adapt to
fighting in the brown water areas of the world, "From the Sea" will prove to
have been an empty document and the Navy will become irrelevant in the new
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