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PBR - Patrol Boat, Riverine

A patrol boat, riverine [PBR] is a high speed, armed, and lightly armored patrol boat used to conduct riverine interdiction and surveillance operations. Riverine operations integrate and employ various types of ground, maritime, air, and special operations forces in a concerted effort to gain and/or maintain control of riverine, coastal, or delta areas.

The riverine area is an inland or delta area comprising both land and water, characterized by limited land lines of communication with extensive waterways that provide natural routes for transportation and communications. Where navigable waterways exist and roads do not, or where forces are required to use waterways, an effective program to control the waterways and/or interdict hostile movement becomes paramount. The riverine area requires unique capabilities and tactics to achieve success against hostile forces.

Waterway interdiction, surveillance, barrier, and security operations can be conducted by specially configured subsurface and surface craft and/or aircraft in the waters and airspace of the riverine area. These operations may be used to gain control of waterways preparatory to subsequent riverine assault operations, or they may be conducted by maritime or air components alone, with ground component elements provided only as a reaction or security element.

To be effective, waterway interdiction and surveillance and security forces should include both surface craft and aircraft. The decision to use surface or subsurface craft, as well as deciding what type of craft to select, will depend on the environment, enemy threat, and assigned mission. The air and surface operations are mutually supporting and may be conducted independently or concurrently. During waterway interdiction, surveillance, and security operations, close coordination is required between airborne and waterborne patrols in the employment of mutually supporting fires.

An individual waterway interdiction, surveillance, and security operation may be called a patrol, and it consists of two or more craft in execution of a specific operation. A vital aspect of securing riverine AOs is controlling the flow of resources, including those introduced from outside the country, in order to deny the enemy the means to wage war. Isolating the enemy from his support may take away his operational initiative and make his primary task that of supply. This greatly facilitates the clearing of an area by military forces and assists in the identification and elimination of indigenous supporters.

Effective control of resources requires that all modes of indigenous transportation be controlled, including those on waterways and rivers. Effective control of the smaller rivers and canals in the riverine area can best be maintained by controlling the banks and adjacent territory; however, connecting tributaries between major waterways may be controlled by patrol-blocking action. Waterway interdiction, surveillance, and security forces will conduct patrols and inshore surveillance to enforce curfews and prevent enemy infiltration, movement, and resupply along and across the major waterways of the area.

The United States conducted extensive riverine operations in Vietnam. In 1966, landing craft (LCPLs)-obtained from U.S. amphibious forces-and new fast 30-foot-long armed (but unarmored) fiberglass patrol boats (PBRs) were separately organized into River Patrol Force (TF 116) to patrol the extensive river and canal system of the Mekong Delta. The primary mission of this force was to keep supply routes open for South Vietnamese, U.S., and other allied forces while denying the use of the waterways to the Viet Cong. Between 1968 and 1970, a smaller patrol operation, Task Force Clearwater, used PBRs, minesweepers, and some river assault craft to secure riverine lines of communication (LOC) and supply for U.S. Army and Marine forces operating in the northern part of South Vietnam. This operation was known as "Game Warden." At its peak in 1968, some 200 PBRs operated in Vietnam.

In 1978, the Navy operated just three river assault craft, 20 PBRs, and five Swifts. By the end of the 1970s, all of the RAC has been disposed of, leaving only the PBRs and PCFs, which endured as late as the 1990s, although in dwindling numbers. The U.S. Marine Corps RAC, deployed in the 1990s, was an updated version of the U.S. Navy Vietnam-era PBR. Throughout the 1990s, SBU-22 and other U.S. Navy and Marine Corps riverine units employed a variety of post-Vietnam era riverine craft, including Mark II PBRs, Mini-Armored Troop Carriers (MATCs), USMC RACs, and PBLs. None proved optimal for the Latin American riverine operations of the time,

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