Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Friday, June 22, 2007


This is coolbert:

From a comment to the blog:

"We need combat ships for patrol on the Tigris/Euphrates, supply barges, etc...This technology is over 40 years old and it worked, it was a success in Vietnam . . . The navy could buy stuff off the shelf, paint it green and mount weapons on it, get it to Iraq and put it to work"

The U.S. Navy does have a lot of experience, very positive, recently and historically also, with “brown water” sailing.

"Brown-water navy is a term that originated in the United States Navy, referring to the small gunboats and patrol boats used in rivers. A broader meaning is any naval force that has the capacity to carry out military operations in river or littoral environments."

The term “brown water navy” comes from the American Civil War. Naval ships DID play an important part during INLAND campaigns along the Mississippi River [other rivers too]. Hence the name “brown water”.

"The term brown-water navy originated in the American Civil War (1861-1865)"

I understand there are conflicting accounts regarding the manning of “brown water” naval ships during the various American Civil War campaigns. NOT manned by U.S. Navy sailors. Enlisted were U.S. Army personnel “combed” from the ranks by Grant. Troops that prior to the war had experience as “river men”. Knew about ships and how to sail them. WERE OFFICERED by regular U.S. Navy commissioned officers.

[could it be that the relative hesitancy of the U.S. Navy to employ "brown water" ships is that they appear to be ungainly and are NOT elegant vessels as would be seen in a pelagic [deep ocean going] fleet!!!]

"Because of the river's murky brown water, the ships that participated in these Mississippi campaigns were quickly referred to as the brown-water navy,
The U.S. Navy was assigned the blockade of the seaports, while a new force of gunboats and river ironclads, together with regular army units, would take, or at least lay siege on, the Confederate forts and cities along the Mississippi."

River gunboats and river ironclad monitors did play a vital role in the campaigns of Grant. Shiloh was a victory for Grant thanks to his pre-planning for reinforcement of men and firepower brought to the battlefield by “brown water” ships.

The Yangtze River Patrol is another example of where the U.S. Navy has employed “brown water” warships with success. Shallow draft naval vessels of various nationalities plying the waters of the Chinese Yangtze River, protection the extra-territorial treaty rights guaranteed European [and American] powers. Lightly armed, with sailors that had to be prepared at a moments notice to go ashore and fight as naval infantry [NOT Marines.].

"US River boats (Gunboats) operated in portions of Chinese rivers (sometimes referred to as the 'Asiatic Navy') during the 1920's."

[NOT only U.S. ships. Other nations had them too!!]

Who has not seen the movie “Sand Pebbles”? About the Yangtze River Patrol. If you have not seen this classic, please do so. A great movie, outstanding even. Steve McQueen in perhaps his greatest role.

[Steve McQueen did serve in the military and was a NCO. He did know how to “play” a soldier [sailor in this case], having been one!]

And during the Vietnam War, the Mobile Riverine Force was an American concept that DID work during that dolorous conflict. The “brown water navy” in Vietnam was a rare example of where American know-how, technology and fighting spirit were put to good use?!

"On 18 December 1965, for the first time since the US Civil War, the US Navy formalized the new Brown Water Navy in Vietnam."

"In 1970, for the first time since the US Civil War, the US Navy stood down the last of its brown-water navy units."

Can the “brown water navy work in Iraq? YES! If the U.S. intends to stay-the-course for the “long-haul”, this is the way to go??!!

Aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf with close air support [CAS] on-call, riverine combat task force on both the Tigris and Euphrates, resupply NOT by tenuous overland routes?! And no immobile, sitting ducks in the “Green Zone” either!!

[the U.S. Navy is contemplating the rebuilding of the "brown water navy"? Read about it here.]

Go for it!!




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