Tuesday, March 6, 2012

RAND Maritime IW Monograph

The RAND Corp. recently published a study on Maritime Irregular Warfare commissioned by Naval Special Warfare Command. For those handful of USN folks outside the NSW community who follow maritime IW, it's worth a quick look.

The study treads little new water, but does offer some good lessons “relearned.” For example, the paper’s suggestion that “…when building partner capacity, either in MIW or land-based IW, the United States should make efforts to provide equipment and technology that the partner will be able to maintain and operate without difficulty,” sounds a lot like: “NUW should avoid the trap of buying new capabilities for a partner maritime force that are unsustainable without ongoing U.S. financial and logistics support.” But digging a little deeper, the observation that we need to know the basics before teaching the basics is spot on: “One problem associated with BPC and the allocation of rudimentary equipment is that U.S. sailors may never have been trained or may have forgotten how to use such equipment themselves. For example, U.S. sailors accustomed to Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation and forward-looking infrared systems on their RIBs may not be able to teach small-boat tactical night navigation with a compass and nautical charts. Sailors tasked with BPC may need refresher training in basic skills and tactics.” The fact that the USN has gutted initial enlisted training pipelines and technical schools and that our own maintenance house is not in order doesn't bode well for future naval SFA efforts.

The piece also provides what is probably the most extensive review of OEF-P maritime activities I’ve seen in open source, so that section alone is worthy of a read. The case study on unconventional warfare activities by the CIA in Nicaragua during the 1980s is also fairly interesting. But piracy isn’t handled very well (some dated and/or inaccurate information).

For those who are still interested in maritime IW but don't have time to go through the whole study, here is a TLDR version.

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the US Navy, or any other agency.

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