When it comes to countering unconventional threats, the U.S. Navy’s river forces deliver the goods.
Riverine deployments from the Revolutionary War to the present have routinely included irregular-warfare (IW) missions, ranging from combat to stability operations. As the United States withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense has found itself transitioning not to the peacetime footing that typically follows conflict, but rather a new standing that straddles the divide between conventional notions of war and peace. It is in this divide where irregular warfare has the greatest potential impact. What principal IW asset does the riverine force provide, and why should the Navy maintain or expand this capability?