Friday, November 25, 2005

Greybeards wanted: Back to Brown Water V

More right thinking and the right words from Navy leadership about taking back a traditional and ill-served warfare area – Riverine.
“We’d like to get a riverine graybeard group together,” he said. “This is an extension of something the Navy has always done. Everyone thinks this is something really new. But this is something we’ve been doing off and on for 230 years.”
Unlike the ALLIANCE, this late arrival shouldn’t be as late or as deadly. Bravo Zulu to my boss the CNO and everyone that is turning towards the sound of gunfire.
The Navy will have three deployment-ready riverine squadrons operational by early 2007, and more than 700 sailors will man the new 36-boat brown-water fleet.

The river raiders will be a key element of the Norfolk-based Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, which stood up Oct. 14. The type-command status of the NECC signals a growing demand for naval expeditionary forces and puts it on the level of the service’s air, surface and submarine forces.

Riverine squadrons

By spring, NECC will identify the manning, equipment and training requirements for three riverine squadrons, Bullard said. By spring of 2007, those new units will be ready to deploy. Details on who can join the force and how command structures will be organized are uncertain, Bullard said. He did say lateral transfers from various commands and ratings likely will be required.

Bullard said NECC planners are working with the Marines, who have a Camp Lejeune-based small boat company patrolling the waterways of Iraq, to develop plans, policies and procedures for the Navy force.

The Corps recently disestablished its small boat companies in a move to free up more infantrymen for deployments, only to see that requirement surface again in Iraq. By spring 2007, the Navy plans to take over that mission, Bullard said.

“We’re working with the U.S. Marine Corps very closely for the Navy to revamp this capability and replace their company in Iraq,” Bullard said Nov. 3. “In fact, we’re going to work with them on our initial training, our initial outfitting and we’re going to stay engaged because they become that combat arms force if we have to put them on a boat.”

Current plans call for three squadrons of 12 boats each. The initial riverine force will total 700 sailors. Bullard could not say how boats will be manned or equipped, as the concept of operations remains under development. It is not known if the boats will be skippered by junior officers or chiefs.

The goal, however, will be to re-establish the Navy’s ability to reach upriver from the littoral or coastal environment.

Although no decision has been made, Bullard’s staff has been looking at several existing boats for riverine operations. The candidates include the Mark V, a large, fast special-operations boat currently in use; the Special Operations Craft-Riverine, in use by special boat units; an enhanced Small Unit Riverine Craft, an armored version of the boat used by Marine small boat units; and the Riverine Assault Craft, a heavily armed and armored fast-attack boat.

“And there are other boats out there,” Bullard said. “Until we do the mission functions and tasks to determine what boat we need, we’ll look at that.”

As Bullard noted, Marines will be the Navy’s “combat arms” force because the Navy will not train sailors as infantry to bolster the expeditionary command. That said, any sailor involved in the new command can expect to spend a lot of time at the weapons range and in the weight room.

“We’re looking for physically fit sailors who will be in harm’s way at times,” he said.
For the rest of the Brown Water series, For review of my thoughts on Riverine Warfare, check things out here, here, here, and here. Sometime you tilt against a windmill and it falls. Whodathunk.

If you Sailors are bored with your Aegis radar and have had enough of a dark, air conditioned duty station - or are fed up with your NEC - and are coming up on your detailing window - NOW IS THE TIME TO CALL YOUR DETAILER.

As for you Greybeards with Riverine experience. If so inclined, get in touch with CFFC and see what the CNO has in mind. Just don’t tell them I told you to call. Snicker.

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