The term “littoral” seems to dominate today’s naval vocabulary. Some believe we should focus on blue-water supremacy, while others say that when the time comes to fight in the littorals, our blue-water fleet will be at great risk from anti-access weapons. How did we get into this fix? Will we soon need a littoral submarine program to protect funding for our seaborne strategic deterrent?
At the end of the Cold War, those who were ignorant of 50 years of history (and the Maritime Strategy) apparently concluded the Navy was optimized for a cataclysmic engagement with the Soviets somewhere in the Atlantic. What followed was a “new” reality: we would operate from the sea in support of operations ashore. “Littoral” quickly became a budget analyst’s weapon and marketing catchphrase. Pity the program that could not reinvent itself by inserting the word into its requirement.