One can make the case that the new riverine forces are waterborne counterparts to 19th-century cavalry. They are being organized and trained for lightning attack, recon, patrol, and convoy—core missions for horse soldiers in the Old West. Like their mounted predecessors, the capability of their steeds is central to success. Much attention has been devoted of late to the form those mounts will take.
A close liaison between the small-craft industry and its military customers is yielding a new understanding of the realities of the brown-water environment. The Navy is struggling to determine and quantify its needs as it develops tactical doctrine following decades of neglecting riverine warfare. Experience in Iraq, South America, and with numerous allies in Africa and Asia, has served as a proving ground for what works and for where change is warranted.