The Commanders Respond

Focusing on the littoral area, the Army and the Air Force can seize and defend an adversary's port, naval base, coastline, or coastal air base to allow entry of heavy naval, ground, and air forces or to establish and protect a forward logistic site for naval forces.

The Navy considers the littoral to be influenced by the capabilities of all the services—from the air, land, on and below the surface of the ocean, as well as reconnaissance by space-based assets.

The Air Force will provide the required reconnaissance, surveillance, and air defense to counter littoral threats. In many theaters, the question of littoral air superiority will be at least partially resolved in the days before naval and ground forces enter in order to give them maximum advantage on the ground. If required, land-based expeditionary aircraft will be tasked to give the naval forces sustained, high-volume tactical air support ashore to extend the landward reach of littoral operations in support of the Navy and the Army.


Captain Sekou Camara, Republic of Guinea Navy —The profitable use of Air Force and Army capacities in conjunction with naval forces, in order to optimize coastal warfare capabilities, constitutes the central question of our coastal defense doctrine.

The principal explanation for this is the size, the composition, and the equipment of the Guinean Navy which, one must admit, contrasts sharply with the extent of the tasks that the latter is charged to accomplish as part of the defense of the territorial integrity of the Republic.

Indeed, like most navies of the Gulf of Guinea, the Guinean Navy has no air force, and the marine infantry division exists only in its embryonic stages, the surface combat fleet is hardly developed, and the submarine fleet even less. Economic constraints are compelling! The cumulative effect of these unfavorable factors deprive our navy of enjoying any relative operational autonomy with regard to the other components of the National Armed Forces, mainly the Air Force and the Army.

It is therefore perfectly understandable that our coastal defense doctrine is established under the combined operational leadership of Air-Sea-Land. The objective to be achieved in this respect is to produce a multiplying effect of forces that are likely to be able to compensate for the seagoing and coastal insufficiencies of the navy.

The tasks in which the Air Force may be led to participate at sea could be:

  • The collection of information for the benefit of the Navy and the Army and to prevent the enemy from doing so
  • The interception of naval and air forces, the pursuit, the harassment, and the destruction on sea and on the coast, during enemy landing operations as well as mining access beaches that the enemy may use, plus the antiaircraft defense of Conakry, the industrial towns, the ports, Army command posts, and their bases
  • The protection of coastal communication lines The Army could be involved in:
  • The antiaircraft defense of the coast, the cities, and coastal industrial towns with the Air Force and the coastal artillery as well as the troops of the marine infantry division
  • The protection of strategic coastal positions necessary for the operations of the fleet and the Air Force
  • The prevention or defeat of an enemy landing by harassing, surrounding, and destroying their coastal beachhead

The level of unit involvement will depend on the presence of enemy forces, while the principle of the combined synergistic effort of the three armed forces on the coast is essential in order to produce the desired effect.


Admiral Given Erkaya, Turkish Navy —First, the scope of the subject for different navies must be questioned and verified. Through the end of the Cold War era, we were all indoctrinated in a domain comprising "the high sea . . . shallow water . . . blue water . . . and sea control." What happened? Has sea control disappeared? For me, the answer is No! For all navies, no matter how the scope of sea control varies, it remains the primary concept. Especially for littoral warfare, sea control is a precondition to deploying forces.

A nation's geostrategic location, likely threats, security risks, and the relative sizes and missions of its navy directly affect its point of view on littoral warfare. Priority of naval assets in littoral warfare is highly dependent on hydrography, oceanography, shape of the coastline, and potential threats. For deeper littorals and steeper coastlines, fast guided-missile patrol boats and submarines may be prime assets, but in shallow waters priority goes to mining and mine countermeasures. Similarly, force structure and likely capabilities of potential threats are to be taken into consideration.

The size of a navy itself is a parameter. For a coastal state with a relatively small navy, the prime mission probably will be defensive—exploiting minefields, guided-missile patrol boats, and mobile surface-to-surface missile (SSM) capabilities to establish sea control. The task of a larger navy faced with such an adversary will be to neutralize these capabilities.

Given these conditions, littoral warfare is not a new concept for the Turkish Navy, which has operated in such an environment for decades.

For us, littoral warfare covers a wide range of operations, from sea control, embargo, blockade, mine countermeasures, neutralizing SSM platforms, search and rescue, surveillance and reconnaissance, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief, to the constabulary roles over the territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zone—an effort shared with the Coast Guard. These missions can be carried out effectively only in close cooperation with other forces, if not in actual joint operations.

Littoral warfare requires the correct balance between force and force multipliers, although priority goes to the latter. Further, sea control weapons are not suitable for littoral warfare, as experienced during the Gulf crisis. Therefore, exploitation of Air Force and Army weapons, which are to some extent more suitable than their naval counterparts, is a necessity.

To conduct littoral warfare effectively, perfect recognition of the surface, subsurface, and air pictures and near real-time intelligence is a must. Surface pictures also should cover the shore and some distance inland, which may contain critical targets. The overall presentation might be referred to as the Littoral Area Battle Space Picture. To achieve such a capability, the Turkish Navy is investing in surveillance and reconnaissance-related projects. In addition, we intend to exploit airborne early warning data.

The next requirement, in terms of priority, is battle space management, which envisages real-time or near real-time target allocation in a very dense combat environment composed of both friendly and enemy forces. The Turkish Navy plans to exploit Air Force capabilities dealing with air defense, TASMO, strike, and search and rescue. Similarly, Army capabilities include helicopter assault against shore targets, special warfare to include inland waterway operations, and rocket-artillery—including the multiple launch rocket system (MLRS). The Coast Guard can assist with shallow-water surveillance and reconnaissance, plus—in cooperation with the Navy-counterterrorism, search and rescue, operations against smuggling, drug trafficking, mass migration, and protection of national interests in the economic zone.


Rear Admiral Esko Antero Illi, Finnish Navy —The Finnish Navy always has been a littoral navy because of Finland's geography. The unique Finnish coastal environment, an archipelago with thousands of islands, inlets, and rocks, must be exploited fully for littoral warfare to be most effective.

The basis for all littoral operations is that all the warfighters must share the same situational picture. The Navy is responsible for the maritime surveillance picture. Our two naval command centers collect data provided by various collectors: Navy units, Coastal Artillery stations, Air Force radars, Coast Guard units, and the Board of Navigation. We integrate all the data to form a complete picture, analyze it, and exchange it among all the services at all levels, using a cross-service data network. The tactical commander then can use this information with the various target-acquisition sensors.

The two main weapon systems for the defense of our littoral waters are mines and antiship missiles. Naval weapon systems are complemented by the Army Coastal Artillery's fixed and mobile artillery and antiship missile battalions, which use the same missile as our Navy. Operationally, these units are an integral part of our littoral defense. In addition, Coastal Artillery vessels have mine-laying capabilities that would be exercised under the Navy's command and control.

The same modern sensor, communication, and computer technology enables extended integration in the antiair warfare arena. In key areas, the Army's air-defense missile systems or the Air Force's fighters provide antiair cover to supplement the naval units' own defense systems.

Finnish defense structure is founded on complete integration, coordination, and interoperability among all the services. The more permanently deployed Army Coastal Artillery battalions and the Air Force's new F-18 Hornets are but two prime examples of units that will provide defense in depth and contribute significantly to decisive littoral warfare.


Vice Admiral Lucas Kroon, Royal Netherlands Navy —The prime missions of our armed forces are defense of national and allied territory within the NATO structure and participation in crisis-management operations worldwide. Our national policy is that participation in crisis-management operations will always be as part of a multinational force. This means that our armed forces must be able to provide units as building blocks to larger multinational joint forces and that there is no requirement to operate as a national joint force. This is also the reason that the Netherlands has no joint headquarters.

To ensure that our units are capable of operating in multinational joint task forces, the Royal Netherlands Navy operates in task groups. A Netherlands task group consists of command, antiair warfare, and antisubmarine warfare frigates with embarked helicopters, a combat support ship, maritime patrol aircraft, and submarines. If required, mine warfare or amphibious ships can be attached. Regular training and workups in this task group combination ensure that all units are ready to operate in large multinational formations. The Navy is thus able to provide a complete task group, parts of the task group (e.g., two frigates), or individual units as building blocks. Our cooperation with the Air Force and Army is aimed at increasing our skills and proficiency in joint and especially in littoral warfare. The Royal Netherlands Air Force provides training facilities to the Netherlands Task Group to improve air-defense capabilities against fighter-bombers and to gain experience in working with shore-based air defense sites. They also run our fighter controllers course. Our Marine Corps follows the Army in the procurement of weaponry, equipment, and vehicles as much as possible, but interoperability with the United Kingdom-Netherlands Landing Force remains the highest priority. The three services have a joint logistic support command that provides recruitment, medical care, and transport facilities.

With this kind of cooperation and training, the Royal Netherlands Navy is able to conduct littoral warfare in a multinational joint setting.


Admiral Angelo Mariani, Italian Navy —In recent years, much more than in the past 45 years, the Italian Armed Forces have acquired a clear role of support to foreign policy in the management of crises.

In such a role, increasing emphasis has been placed on the military to conduct joint operations in support of peace and security, and for military forces to carry out littoral warfare effectively.

In general, littoral warfare is divided into two phases: operations prior to deployment into a theater of operation and operations subsequent to the deployment.

During the first phase, the Navy has a qualifying role by virtue of the intrinsic qualities of maritime forces—in particular, amphibious forces that are uniquely capable of linking sea and land operations.

After forces have deployed into the operational theater, Army and Air Force capabilities are used to give considerable support to maritime activities. In particular, the Army and Air Force can provide a major contribution to information warfare, which has an important role in littoral operations. Ground and air surveillance systems can provide real-time information exchange, which will facilitate a global picture of the area of operations—a prerequisite for continuing maritime operations.

Moreover, the land and air forces' contribution to naval operations can be made even more effective by providing targeting and spotting for naval gunfire and close air support, as well as by suppressing enemy air defense and providing a protective screen of weapons systems against any tactical ballistic missile threat.


Admiral Jorge Martinez Busch, Chilean Navy —First, within our Chilean military tradition and history, joint operations, with the Army and then with the Air Force, constitute a long-standing doctrine with much historical evidence. Our first amphibious operation under the current concept took place at the Pisagua area, during the Pacific War in November 1879. In its execution, the strategic aspects employed naval assets to obtain tactical control, and Army troops as assault force. Joint operations with Army and Air Force, more than just a tradition for the Chilean Navy, are the materialization of a common way of thinking and acting of the services, and they signify " l'unite de la guerre ," which is required to achieve the final strategic objective consistent with the political war objective of the nation.

Second, littoral operations are the evidence of military power projection ashore, based on the maritime component. It would be very hard to obtain effective results without control of the sea in the area of interest, as the three services concur in that specific area and use coordinated actions to seize and occupy it, using expeditionary forces; it would be senseless to refer to littoral operations without obtaining a territory to project military power ashore. Now, if we consider that the classical naval blockade and maritime traffic interdiction are to be deemed littoral operations, it is evident that there is little contribution from the Army, as the Navy and Air Force are the ones possessing the appropriate assets.

Operations employing Air Force and Army capabilities for greater effectiveness—and, above all, operational flexibility—must be based on a concurrent way of thinking and acting in wartime, which acknowledges that certain preliminary strategic phases must be accomplished in which the Navy bears most, if not all, of the burden. Military history repeatedly has demonstrated that the key issue in such operations is control of the area-and the Navy bears the main responsibility for this action.

We should share a common approach, reflected in compatible command-and-control systems, and a common language practiced in exercises that capitalize on specialization in accordance with such operational scenarios as the development of operations from the sea.

Lastly, we should bear in mind that the Navy is the only tridimensional force able to perform air, land, and sea operations. This does not imply predominance, but rather a reality shared by all the armed-forces commanders of a maritime country.


Vice Admiral L. Paliogiorgos, Hellenic Navy —The Hellenic Navy operates in a unique geographical area, which includes the Aegean and Ionian Seas, with a plethora of islands, as well as the high seas of the Eastern Mediterranean. For this reason, the Hellenic Navy has always been focused primarily, but not exclusively, on conducting littoral and coastal-warfare operations.

The Hellenic Navy has neither organic fighter aircraft nor marine units. Therefore the Navy cooperates closely with the Hellenic Air Force and Army and exploits their capabilities and expertise to the maximum possible degree for tactical air support to the Navy's reconnaissance, air defense, striking operations, peace support, humanitarian missions, and amphibious tasks.

A high degree of common operational training and cooperation currently exists among the Hellenic armed services and is considered essential for conducting coastal operations effectively. The improvement of capabilities for reliable and secure communications and real-time data transfer between the Hellenic Navy and the Hellenic Air Force and Army commands and individual units has high priority. In addition, commonality and interoperability of our systems; improvement of command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence capabilities; and the modernization of means and weapon systems constitute objectives of utmost importance.

Furthermore, our participation in NATO and multinational littoral exercises and operations under the new security environment conditions will improve the cooperation with allied and partner navies and provide us with new experiences to refine our doctrine and tactics.

I believe that we are on the right track and we will continue our efforts for the benefit of our national and allied interests.


Admiral Domingos Alfredo Silva, Brazilian Navy —First, it is important to point out that the Brazilian government's Policy of National Defense is based on traditions of searching for solutions to controversy through peaceful means. Brazil has a defensive strategy, which prevents considerations of warfare in foreign littorals.

I would also like to clarify that, in the Brazilian concept, the word "littoral" is understood as being the beach, land, coast, or land bathed by the sea—but not necessarily the sea itself. Consequently, the main effort to defend our littoral would be carried out by the Army and Air Force.

The Brazilian Navy would be employed in maritime areas away from our continental territory to defeat an enemy's approach to the littoral—in blue water, where Army participation is impossible and Air Force support is limited.

Once a Maritime Operation Theater containing a landward extension has been activated, the Brazilian Military War Structure assigns tasks for all the armed forces. In this situation, Army and Air Force are important in that they contribute to those operations and actions planned by the Navy.

The Army may be employed in coast defense using long-range artillery systems to defend sensitive points, especially those important to maritime power, and—with the Marine Corps—islands and other parts of the littoral.

The Air Force contributes by scouting, attack, and mining operations, as well as air defense and remote sensing of maritime areas using satellites. Joint intelligence and counterintelligence operations among the armed forces are vital to any operation.


Admiral Sir Jock Slater, Royal Navy —I do not like the way this question is framed. The key to success in littoral operations is undoubtedly the ability of all three services together with our allies to interoperate and thereby allow the joint force commander to exploit the particular capabilities of each discipline.

Navies traditionally have taken part in international operations involving other services and often exercise what must be the ultimate joint capability in the littoral—an amphibious operation. Maritime operations are joint by definition, as they involve forces operating afloat, ashore, and in the air. Furthermore, naval forces can provide afloat headquarters for joint forces offering advantages in flexibility and access.

Naval forces are also autonomous and can operate successfully without host-nation support or overflying rights. There are many recent examples of countries becoming increasingly wary of allowing foreign forces to operate within, through, or from their territory. Thus, the ability to operate in the littoral and to project power ashore will rely more than ever before on naval units capable of organic air operations, amphibious operations, and of standoff attack by sea-launched missiles.

The Royal Navy for the 21st century is configured to do just that and practices these capabilities on a regular basis.


Rear Admiral Hans K. Svensholt, Royal Norwegian Navy —The introduction of littoral warfare came with the U.S. Navy's concept, " . . . From the Sea." When projecting military force from the sea toward land, littoral warfare is the approach needed by the projecting military power to combat the defensive threat. Norwegian operations in the littorals, where land and sea meet, are still focused on anti-invasion capabilities—the ability to prevent or deny projection of power from the sea. Thus, more precisely, "Anti-Littoral Warfare" is a Norwegian joint anti-invasion concept. The ability to maintain adequate control in the littorals and to ensure safety for reinforcement shipping will continue to be a prime Navy task.

Within the Norwegian forces, however, today's guidelines constitute a conceptual change away from attrition and static defense in depth toward maneuver warfare. This implies a more flexible use of the littorals both in a protective context as well as improved ability to use the advantages of the littorals to maneuver with land forces. Within these guidelines, the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force will in years to come be somewhat restructured to ensure more flexible forces for joint operations.

The changes in the Norwegian armed forces will be a war structure of fewer fixed and static components within all three services. As the services will work more closely and jointly in the future, further developments are needed, especially with air space coordination and improved command, control, communications, and intelligence arrangements. Of further importance is an increased ability to integrate and work with allied formations.

The work of the Norwegian Armed Forces today is aimed at increased total efficiency. A force-structure study to be presented this summer will provide the guidelines to ensure that new capabilities are being developed appropriately. Last but not least, more emphasis is being put into joint education and training, as well as the development of maneuver-oriented doctrine.


Rear Admiral J. E. N. Welch, Royal New Zealand Navy —New Zealand is a geographically isolated country; our nearest neighbor, Australia, is more than 1,000 miles distant. The Royal New Zealand Navy is a small navy, based around a four-frigate combat force. The Royal New Zealand Air Force and the New Zealand Army are similarly constrained in size and force structure.

In broad terms, the Navy's combat force could be employed as part of a joint coalition force or as part of a New Zealand joint force to deal with low-level contingencies in our immediate area of interest. Like most other defense forces, we have found the "training dollar" hard to come by and we must get maximum value from it. Our practice, therefore, has been to train specifically with other New Zealand military assets to a limited extent and direct our main effort toward exercises with other nations' joint forces. This allows our navy to maintain joint interoperability and contribute, if required, to a joint coalition force as well as achieving national objectives.

In October 1995, we commissioned HMNZS Charles Upham , a military sealift ship. The ship does not have an amphibious capability, and was acquired for strategic sealift. One of the vessel's major roles is to provide transport and logistics support for our own and allied land forces. Presently, the ship is being modified to meet her designated role. Trials of ramp-to-ramp transfers—ship to landing craft—for beach disembarkation have been proposed, and trials to use Royal New Zealand Air Force and Australian rotary-wing assets are being formalized. Such steps will provide the Charles Upham with far greater utility than she has today.

The Air Force, with whom the Navy operates routinely in the New Zealand area, is conducting project definition studies for Project Sirius, which is the sensor upgrade for the P-3K Orion. Possible upgrades may include, but are not limited to: electronic support measures, an acoustic processor, identification friend-or-foe, magnetic anomaly detection, Global Positioning System, improved data handling, installation of Link 11, electronic warfare self-protection upgrades, and radar improvements.

In summary, the Royal New Zealand Navy conducts some local training with Air Force and Army units, although greater training benefit is gained by exercising with allied joint forces. The aim is to ensure that the Navy is capable of operating creditably with minimal interoperability difficulties. While there are no plans to develop an amphibious capability, modification of the Charles Upham will permit more practical support for deployed land forces. A more effective maritime patrol aircraft will have obvious benefits.


Rear Admiral K. H. Winther, Royal Danish Navy —Take a look at Denmark's location as a nation of one peninsula—Jutland—and about 500 islands between the North Sea and the Baltic and between the European continent and the Scandinavian Peninsula. In this area, warfare is by nature a littoral affair, and our defense planning reflected this fact throughout the Cold War.

Thus, joint and—thanks to an evolving and ever closer cooperation with allied and, above all German forces—combined operations became the order of the day for national as well as NATO defense planning for the Baltic Approaches; in fact, the Allied Command Baltic Approaches recently celebrated its 35th anniversary.

Littoral warfare aspects have been firmly included in both operational planning considerations and in our force planning. In a changed environment with options other than general defense against a massive air-amphibious-land offensive, we are left with a number of already effective tools for joint effort in a littoral environment.

Tactical air support to maritime operations is a firm task for the Danish Air Force, and we have well-developed procedures and we train in close cooperation for maritime attack, combat air patrol in support of naval forces, and reconnaissance in an area that also includes shore-based surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), fighter air defense, and friendly maritime air operations. In this environment, cooperation and coordination is a must-and we therefore train regularly.

The Air Force also provides flexible SAM cover for coastal areas—limited in time and space—by deploying Hawk missile units in support of maritime operations. In this way, a defensive mine-laying operations can be afforded additional air defense, or a reinforcement port can be protected at a vital time. Navy liaison officers ensure direct communications and coordination with naval forces in the area and with force commanders at sea, enabling maritime and air headquarters to exchange information and ensure coordination of all assets.

Land and maritime interactions have aided planning of maritime minefields to complement land defenses against an amphibious threat and to coordinate force-level operations against just such an attack. The Army presently is upgrading is own defense capability, which includes integrating its command, control, and intelligence system with those of the Air Force and Navy so that the air defense effort in the future will be truly a tri-service operation.



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