The Canadian navy needs to learn how to fight terrorists and pirates, says the top commander.Bingo! He knows that the navy learning curve can be nasty, brutish and short. Don't see the threat and your ship or fleet will be gone before you can respond to it.
As the army has been forced to fight a brutal counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan, Vice-Admiral Drew Robertson says the navy must prepare itself for conflicts where "threats are whatever your imagination can conceive."
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Robertson said an attack on an Israeli warship last year was the wake-up call.
Most of the 80 crew members of the Israeli corvette Ahi-Hanit were having dinner below deck on a sweltering, sleepy Friday evening 14 months ago when - seemingly out of nowhere - a Chinese-designed sea-hugging missile slammed into the warship's helicopter deck.
The explosion and fire killed four sailors, but the shock waves of the surprise attack by Hezbollah could be felt well beyond the waters of Lebanon.
It was the nightmare scenario that had kept commanders in established navies all over the world awake at nights.
"Here we have a group that's not a nation, armed with mach-(speed), sea-skimming missiles," said Robertson.
"A year ago, no one had foreseen the idea that weapons of that kind could have proliferated to a non-state actor."
Actually, some inside and outside Israel did and were poo-poo's for it.
"Most of the anti-missile capability our frigates and destroyers have is predicated on shots being taken at them by enemies who are over the horizon. But what happens when you get small vessels within sight - or even disguised?" he said.You also need to pay attention to your watch schedule. How long can your "hybrid-Sailors" keep sharp? Is your "optimal manning" only optimal for peace time steaming?
"I'm thinking of a scenario where you've got all of these little Iranian speedboats and all of a sudden everyone on cue stands up and lets loose with small, cheap missiles. Can you overwhelm the system with numbers?"
Huebert said defence planners will have to pay more attention to so-called close-in weapons systems.
Speaking of Eagle1, here is something I think he would agree with,
A series of well-timed precise attacks on container ships in crowded shipping lanes could lead to economic chaos in countries, such as Canada, that depend on maritime trade.Bravo Zulu VADM Robinson. Now, could you please call your fellow North Americans down south? Tell them you want to discuss "Diversity" and then they will answer your call (especially if they are at NAVSEA) - then you can talk to them about the diversity of threats in the real world.
A month ago pirates seized a vessel chartered by the United Nations World Food Program in waters off eastern Africa.
"Piracy is enabled by the current state of the government in Somalia," said Robertson. "You've got pirates operating in a relatively unsophisticated manner in those calm waters of the tropics (and) they've been able to have quite an effect."