Sunday, June 06, 2010

Littoral Combat

Did you know that the United States Navy is building a fleet of littoral combat ships, ships designed to operate in the shallow waters. A littoral is defined as "the region or zone between the limits of high and low tides". Here in the northwest, a littoral combat ship would prowl deep into the farthest reaches of Puget Sound and could come within easy range of the Capitol Building in Olympia.

Here's one now.

Close in naval combat is not exactly a new idea. In Vietnam, the US deployed the now infamous swift boats for combat in the Mekong Delta and other shallow waters. But compare the swift boat below to the littoral combat ship above and the difference in scale and capability is obvious.

All this came to mind when I spotted an ad from the LCS contractor, Lockheed Martin, on a Washington Post webpage touting the ship. The ad used the term "littoral combat dominance" which has echoes of the the US military's "full spectrum dominance" concept. Obviously, the Navy is planning to get its share of the spectrum with the ability to bring its destructive capabilities right up to the shoreline.

The DOD press release describes full spectrum dominance as forward thinking:
"We should not expect opponents in 2020 to fight with strictly 'industrial age' tools," the report states. "Our advantage must ... come from leaders, people, doctrine, organizations and training that enable us to take advantage of technology to achieve superior warfighting effectiveness."

The technology and capability may be 21st century. War is hardly new.

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