Maritime interdiction and law enforcement/counterdrug operations are critical missions, but too often the sailors who perform them are forced to make do. A consistent approach to training, equipping, and funding is needed to ensure their success.
The Navy makes maritime interdiction operations (MIO) and law enforcement/counterdrug (LEO-CD) operations a burden on its sailors and organization. Our training is inconsistent; we have no method of tracking people, skills, or equipment; and we haphazardly reward the sailors and ships conducting the mission.
Since August 1990, I have trained for, conducted, and witnessed the Navy's attempt to fulfill the vital MIO mission. In the beginning (prior to Desert Shield and Desert Storm), we had ad hoc boarding parties outfitted with steel helmets, kapock life vests, and coveralls using motor whaleboats. Today, our teams are equipped with battle dress uniforms, combined organic rigid-hull inflatable boats, and special operations Mk V patrol boats, conducting noncompliant boardings at night. I have observed or used virtually every combination of manpower and equipment available to conduct MIO/LEO-CD.