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By Douglas Ramsdell
Confronting increasingly sophisticated Third World littoral threats is proving to be a tall order. To handle them, mobile inshore undersea warfare units will be expected to duplicate the security feats they performed here in Bahrain and at other ports during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Although regional wars have punctuated the last half of this century, neither they nor the recently diminished threat of global war have been the only security concerns of the United States. During the same period, worldwide tensions have produced a series of less- dramatic struggles known collectively as low-intensity conflict.1
Such conflicts may portend a future of littoral warfare in which inshore undersea warfare forces will be the chosen agents to protect U.S. interests, allies, and people. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Frank B. Kelso II, outlined the fundamental precepts essential in adapting to new-world-order dynamics:
If you look to tomorrow, the best vision I think any of us [naval planners] have at the time is that we’ll have one foot on the land and one foot in the sea, and we’ll be working in the littoral areas of the world.2
Naval coastal warfare comprises coastal sea control, harbor defense, and port security. It is U.S. Navy policy to maintain the unimpeded use of the naval coastal warfare area.3 Nascent policy concerns include the use of sea lines of communication and littoral areas.4
Inshore Undersea Warfare
Inshore undersea warfare maintains a mobile, readily deployable Navy force capable of conducting shallow- water surveillance in ports, harbors, amphibious objective areas, straits, and passages. The program has evolved over the past 28 years from the harbor-defense units organized during World War II. Formed to protect major U.S. ports against submarine threats, these units used fixed magnetic sensors, acoustic sensors, and physical barriers to carry out their missions.5
In 1963, the Navy eliminated the harbor defense units and commissioned two inshore undersea warfare groups. Active-duty personnel made up each group, which comprised a headquarters element and three detachments. The disestablished harbor defense units were reorganized and recommissioned as mobile inshore undersea warfare units, manned by selected reservists and sharing the same equipment allowance with the active-duty detachments.
In 1980, after six duty detachments performed valuable and effective service in Vietnam as elements of Task Force 115, both groups were transferred into the Naval Reserve, retaining 16 fully equipped selected reserve units in a commissioned status.6 During the mid-1980s, the Navy revalidated inshore undersea warfare requirements through review of individual operational and contingency plans, with funding programmed for the additional 12 units.7 These also provided close coordination and interaction with joint, Coast Guard, and other agencies, as assigned.8 Active-duty and selected reserve compatibility is the key. It is not cost-efficient to assign active forces to missions that reserve components could perform well.
Most notably in the 1990s, Operations Desert Shield/Storm and the requisite mobilization of reservists included support from mobile inshore undersea warfare units for the Naval Logistic Support Force that had been established specifically to meet logistic challenges and protect port facilities at A1 Jubayl and Dammam, both in Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.9
Now, these forces face many critical issues as they approach the next century. Recent world events indicate that the proliferation of sophisticated undersea technologies throughout the world has changed the power equation significantly, perhaps for the worse. The emergence of conventional, missile-armed surface forces and conventional, highly capable, diesel-electric submarines, along with sneak craft, swimmer-delivery vehicles, swimmers, and mines, are the broad factors that we must consider.
Third World countries are generally limited in operating areas and geopolitical reach. Therefore, such countries formulate military strategy from a coastal perspective.
ventional, highly capable, diesel-electric submarines, contained with sneak craft, swimmer delivery vehicles, swimmers, and mines. Possible scenarios for inshore undersea warfare projections indicate the following.
- Virtually all areas are littoral areas.
- Antisurface warfare will still be the primary area.
- Antisubmarine warfare will follow closely.
- Modem, sophisticated diesel/electric submarines will e the principal threat, operating in home waters close to refueling and rearming ports. Because they would most likely embark on short missions on a full battery, or employ ai independent propulsion systems, they will be submerged
for the full mission cycle.21 .
- Shallow-water ASW systems and weapons are manda
tory for success.22 f h_
- A wide variety of small, high-speed surface craft prob ablv armed with surface-to-surface missiles, constitute
They also have learned the value of small conventional navies and the advantage they represent when defending against a superior force.10
Operations along continental shelves in some ways may be more demanding than open-water warfare, which was top priority when Soviet threats predominated." Adversaries ashore, as well as afloat, could take advantage of short flight times for aircraft and antiship missiles that strike with little or no warning. Mines also are a menace.12
Another underwater threat becoming more and more important is that emanating from free swimmers and small submersibles.13 Current U.S. Navy sensors and communication systems do not work as well in shallow seas, over land, and in congested areas as they do in, on, or above the deep water, for which they were designed.14 The question today becomes: Will this sophisticated weaponry stand up to such a lower technology and diversified threat?
Desert Storm and the entire Persian Gulf crisis demonstrated how an unexpected threat can neutralize a mod- urn, specialized force. The U.S. Navy is not ready to counter such diverse threats. These weapons are inexpensive, effective, and increasingly available to weaker naval powers. In Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, more than 90% of all U.S. material arrived by surface vessels.15 Some estimates are even higher.10
Despite improvements in acoustic processors and sensor systems, the United States still has difficulty in localizing shallow-water targets.17 To meet this challenge, it is necessary to revitalize technology to meet that threat."' Like our blue-water naval forces, inshore undersea warfare forces must become specialized. Currently, Coast Guard and Navy units operate under a unified chain of c°mmand. The organization is sound; the units themselves are old and diverse. The planning community has recognized this and has begun looking at ways to correct it.19
Threats posed by Third World countries and the nature of the action in which they might employ those threats provide a brief insight into the variety of types of limited warfare. One common thread throughout this and almost any other consideration of inshore undersea warfare is the littoral environment.
Environmental factors inherent in shallow water favor antisurface warfare and preclude the use of most current antisubmarine warfare assets: towed-array passive sonars are impractical because of their high ambient noise and the possibility of collision with the bottom; the Mk 46/48 torpedoes require a separation between target and sea floor, making them difficult to use against a target hovering near
the bottom.20 .
On the other hand, the most likely areas for hostile action are ideal for missile-armed surface forces and con
Also included are two AN/UGC-143(V)4 teletypewriters and associated cryptologic equipment.27
bulk of the surface threat.
► The success of mining efforts in the Persian Gulf may attract the interest of international terrorist groups, which can easily obtain mines from their sponsoring nations or construct their own from readily available components.23
The inescapable conclusion is that in-1 shore operations encompass the most com- \ plex set of threats. The operational task 5
thus faced by inshore undersea warfare will be to employ a mobile, rapidly deployable capability to establish coastal and harbor surveillance forces in-theater with fully integrated command, control, and communications capabilities.24
The mission remains oriented toward providing a mobile surface and subsurface surveillance capability in the inshore and shallow-water areas of operations. Such forces also provide facilities for command, control, and communications in inshore areas; control airborne mine countermeasures helicopters; control surface minesweeping craft of opportunity; and control ship movement and vessel tracking within harbors or anchorages.25
To achieve this rapidly deployable, tactical response capability, each unit is equipped with modular surface and subsurface operating and support equipment designed to be sea/air/land transportable, or as fly-away units. Specifically, the equipment suite is tailored around the AN/TSQ- 108A(V) radar, sonar, surveillance center van. This version replaces the AN/TSQ-108 van, which contains obsolete equipment. A total of 21 vans will be produced.26
Upgrades include the AN/SPS-64(V)18 Radar Set,
which provides surface-search surveillance. Acoustic detection is provided by the AN/SQR-17A(V)3 acoustic processor and sonobuoys. Communications are provided by nine radio sets: two AN/ARC-119(V) high-frequency transceivers, three AN/ARC-182(V) very-high-frequency transceivers, two AN/WSC-3(V)9 Sat- Com/LOS transceivers, and two AN/ARC- 159 ultra-high-frequency(V) transceivers.
Intra- and interservice compatability is essential. In most scenarios, responsibility for land operations rests with the Army and the Marine Corps; seaborne operations fall under the auspices of the Navy. In all cases, the dividing line for the responsibilities is the high-water mark. In wartime, or as directed by the President, the Coast Guard becomes part of the Navy and shares in the responsibility.28
Inshore forces are prepared for mobilization and their support of active Navy requirements while training for mobilization. And they are sized to satisfy mobilization requirements. Their multimission capabilities are needed most critically during transitions to crisis and conflict, where surface/subsurface surveillance of littoral areas and other mission areas gain the greatest importance.
Operations Desert Shield/Storm demonstrated that an active-duty and selected reserve mix is one that provides, for a given investment, the balance of force size and availability that minimizes risk across the range of likely threats.29 The U.S. Navy depended upon reserve forces for medical care and harbor and port security. In each of these roles, success was contingent upon integration and close cooperation.30 While the performance of inshore undersea warfare operations and support to Desert Shield and Desert Storm was a success, improvements can and must be made. Such deficiencies have aroused concern and even prompted legislation.
Congress directed $15 million in National Guard and reserve equipment funds in Fiscal Year 1992 under the Department of Defense appropriation to: “(a) integrate new shallow-water sonar, magnetic, thermal/visual imaging systems into the MIUW Central Acoustics Processor and (b) procure and integrate the AN/ALR-66 ESM systems into the MIUW vans of the Navy Reserves.”31 These recommendations anticipate the ability of many countries to develop diverse threats. With new and more capable systems being introduced, inshore undersea warfare forces need the extra edge provided by advanced technology. But is this enough? Against today’s broad range of threats, other enhancements must be made.
Mission effectiveness is directly related to the proficiency of equipment operators and their ability to interact. Realistic scenarios in peacetime allow them to develop and maintain the skills needed to evaluate, track, and report contacts of interest. Emphasis is in transportation, set-up, and operation of the radar, sonar, surveillance
central van. In addition, implementation of a quick-strike capability; the nearly immediate capability to strike the j van and set up elsewhere, combined with self-protection | (live fire) training could enhance operational readiness.
Successful prosecution of contacts and targets are cru- j cial to operations conducted within the littoral areas. Raider boats provide valuable interdiction and support capabili- j ties. While they are ideal for these operations, they lack the systems needed to conduct coordinated ASW. An air ASW capability could enhance this effort but operate for a limited time (LAMPS III helicopters) in the littoral areas of operation. The utility of ASW sensors on board offsets this limitation.
Diverse and robust defenses and tactical deception must be introduced. These measures are intended to preclude
By Lieutenant Commander Joseph B. Thomas, Jr., U.S. Naval Reserve
As a member of the inshore undersea warfare community, I believe that several of its aspects require clarification. For a start, the term is inshore undersea warfare—not mobile and inshore undersea warfare, as stated several times by as many sources. Each of two inshore undersea warfare group (IUWGRU) commanders is responsible for several commissioned mobile inshore undersea warfare units (MIUWUs). The Navy’s entire inshore undersea warfare capability resides in the Naval Reserve.
The acronyms commonly used for these terms can cause confusion. Navy planners sometimes place us incorrectly in mine warfare (MIW), and Marines hear MIUWU—usually pronounced “mew”—and think of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
The centerpiece of each inshore undersea warfare unit in the field is the radar-sonar surveillance center (RSSC) van, a containersized shelter equipped with a sur
face-search radar, sonobuoy processor, and communications suite. Each unit also brings along the rolling stock and other equipment needed to relocate rapidly and subsist in the field. The vans provide surveillance and limited command-and-control capabilities at chokepoints, ports, and other inshore areas, freeing afloat assets for use elsewhere.
Inshore undersea warfare forces recently completed two years of countemarcotics support operations in the Caribbean, where they learned how to conduct longterm continuous operations using selected reservists (while also supporting fleet operations and Operation Desert Shield/Storm), how to build their own long and flexible logistics train, and how to work with other agencies involved in counternarcotics. We already knew that surveillance units cannot investigate suspicious contacts without mobile assets. When those assets were available, we could follow a de-
tect-classify-intercept-identify- monitor operations model for suspicious contacts. When they were not available, we could only detect, classify and monitor. This was fine for intelligence collection, traffic pattern monitoring, and many other useful things.
But it did not work as well for racking up busts, which unfortunately is the most politically attractive measure of success for counternarcotics support operations.
The inshore undersea warfare program has worked with the Coast Guard for many years in different operational environments, including the defense of coalition ports in the Persian Gulf. The mobility of Coast Guard craft usually complements the surveillance capability of inshore undersea warfare units.
Lieutenant Commander Thomas is a Naval Reservist in a mobile inshore undersea warfare unit from College Park, Maryland.
Systems must be capable of cuing the operator for further analysis. This computer-based command, control, and communication system should be designed to integrate all sensors on a coordinated tactical display, which can be overlaid on digitized charts of the operating area. This could enable the operator to move the cursor to a radar contact and automatically slew specific sensor systems to that bearing to help further identify the contact. The means to integrate them into an effective shield is essential if the individual parts are to prove their worth. Complementary capabilities of the radar, sonar, surveillance central van and other systems could provide a decent defense.
The nerve center of the mobile inshore undersea warfare unit is the radar-sonar surveillance center van, here scanning the coast of Panama.
a sudden dash to the van by a small boat loaded with rockets, to defend against helicopters and aircraft, and to provide a tactical deception against these threats. Stingers or similar hand-held missiles could provide a quick-reaction capability for some threats. Camouflage used in conjunction with remote decoys could be used for tactical deception. Expert analysis must be implemented, however, for such a diverse array of threats and capabilities.
Over-the-Horizon Detection Capability
Platforms available for this mission include unmanned air vehicles and aerostats. Payloads for the unmanned vehicles could consist of electro-optical/infrared or electronic countermeasures to counter antiship missiles. This vehicle affords the ability to act independently of other sensors. Payloads for the aerostat could be high-powered radar or side-looking radar for over-the-horizon detection. These types of sensor systems could feasibly extend the radar range and provide a relatively secure graphic display of target information.
Incorporate Supporting Space-based Systems
Support available for inshore undersea forces lies in the areas of global positioning system imagery and communication satellite systems. The global positioning system provides precise position information in search and rescue, minefield clearance and avoidance, and navigation. Multispectral imagery identifies shallow-water areas near coastlines or earth surfaces that show recent signs of heavy-equipment travel. In addition, satellite-based communications allow interoperability of forces and the speed essential for command, control, and communication.
Shallow-Water Antisubmarine Sensors
Rapidly deployable sensors must adapt to the unique problem of shallow water. The dynamics inherent in shallow water present a challenge and vary with location, diurnal activity, and high ambient noise. In addition, no one sensor system works well in this environment. Therefore, various complementary acoustic and nonacoustic sensors are needed for detection of the diverse threats in the littoral areas of operation.
Develop More Imaginative Antiswimmer Measures
We need comprehensive surveillance systems to counter free swimmers under water. Sonar systems, remotely operated vehicles, and physical barriers may provide the combination necessary to meet this threat. These systems could also detect swimmer-delivery vehicles and mines. Passive sonar and magnetic anomaly detectors may also play a role.
The inshore undersea warfare environment of the 1990s will present a diverse array of threats for the United States. The broad challenge will be to prevent the gradual and cumulative erosion of U.S. security.
We face a combination of helpful and unhelpful trends. On one hand, the decline of Soviet power has removed a source of Third World ventures and surrogate wars. Without the restraining influence of competing superpowers, however, the conflicts of the next decade may become more hostile—fueled by a diffusion of global power, nationalism, ethnic-religious grievances, failing economies, unfavorable demographic trends, and the proliferation of increasingly deadly weapons.
In addition, the overwhelming success of Operation
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Desert Storm may direct aggressive acts against the United States and its allies into the lower end of the operational continuum. We cannot rely on future adversaries to repeat Saddam Hussein’s mistakes of engaging U.S and Coalition forces on a field unfavorable to his interests.
Terrorists, insurgents, and narcotics-traffickers to name a few—have demonstrated growing sophistication in the use of advanced technology and tactics, communica- tions/psychological skills, and transnational cooperation. The most significant features of the evolving inshore undersea warfare environment are its broad scope, its multiple actors, and its increasing sophistication.
department of Defense, Low-Intensity Conflict (LIC) Status Report (Washington, D C„ April 1992), p. 1.
’Bruce B. Auster, “It’s not boys will be boys. The times have changed, U.S. News and World Report, 13 July 1992, p. 28.
'NWP 39, Naval Coastal Warfare (Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, OP-03, June 1988), p. 1-1.
Ibid., draft. .
’Inshore Undersea Warfare Study (Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Naval dperations, OP-03, April 1987), p. 1-1.
'Crackwell, Jr., “The Role of the U.S. Navy in Inshore Waters,” Naval War Col- |e8e Review, 1968. pp. 77-81. jUW Study, op. cit., p 1-2.
J9WP 39, op. cit., pp. 4-1 to 5-4.
’Norman Douglas Bradley, “Waging Peace,” Proceedings, December 1991, p. 53. "tames Fitzgerald and John Benedict, “There is a Sub Threat Table 1. Potential 'threat Types
'A<lm. Frank B Kelso II (USN), Statement Before the House Armed Services Com- nt‘ttee on the Posture and Fiscal Year 1991/93 Budget of the U.S. Navy, 21 Febu-
!?y 21, 1991), p. 6. ..
Scott C. Truver and Jonathan S. Thompson, “Navy Mine Countermeases: Oue , ad is? Armed Forces Journal, April 1987, pp. 70-74. ,
Jane’s Underwater Warfare Systems 1991-1992, 3rd ed. (Surry, UK: Jane s In
ormation Group, 1991), p. 3. . M
'’’Mine Warfare Czar Post Created,” Navy News and Undersea Technology, 4 rso-
rember 1991, p- 1- .
The United States in Desert Shield and Desert Storm (Washington, D.C.: Utt
>f the Chief of Naval Operations, 15 May 1991) pp. 28-30, 62-63.
t>Ky i Thompson, “Working Around the Sealift Problem” Proceedings, January
[991, p. 73.
'Richard Hill, Antisubmarine Warfare (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press,
“B. C. Trainor, “Regional Security: A Reassessment,” Proceedings, May 1992, p. 43. 9Op. cit., Draft NWP 39 Naval Coastal Warfare, pp. 3-1 to 3-4.
(iretchen G. Grover, “Me Worry About Coastal Warfare?’ Proceedings, c o
"Antisubmarine Warfare: Meeting the Challenge (Washington, DC.. Office of the
Chief of Naval Operations, OP-71, April 1990), p. 35. rvtoher
“Richard A. Worth, “Defending the 100-Fathom Curve,” Proceedings, OctoDer
“Gregory K. Hartman and Scott C. Truver, Weapons That Wait: Mine
the U.S. Navy, updated version (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute es , *
24Op. cit., Inshore Undersea Warfare Study, p. H-3.
:sOp. cit., NWP 39 Naval Coastal Warfare, pp. 7-1 to 7-5.
”Draft Management Plan for the Design, AcquisUon, ^D.C.:
Testing of Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, 1992) PP- “ ^ April
'■Capt. Bruce Stubbs, USCG, “The Coast Guard Dilemma, Proceea g V
1987, p. 46. n r • Joint Chiefs of Staff,
»7997 Joint Military Net Assessment (Washington, D. ••
ington, D.C.: Department of Defense, JuT Tc(,' Heanng-Joint Explana-
J'U.S. Congress, House Committee on Anned • 9J ,8 November
tory Statement of the Committee of Conference (Report luz v ,
1991), p. H10453. ____
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’echnical Analysis Division of the Special Operat.ons u.r ’ECHMATICS, Inc., in Arlington, Virginia.