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

Monday, July 30, 2007

Riverine V. [Conclusion.]

This is coolbert:

Here is my own Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield [IPB] that explores the possibility, feasibility, and potentiality of riverine warfare worldwide.

My IPB is both more inclusive and exclusive than the study done by CNA.

Considerations for inclusion, exclusion done solely at my own discretion.

[a main consideration for inclusion being that a river allows for access to the interior of a continent, often a thousand miles or so from the mouth of a river!!]

Includes rivers flowing into the Arctic and those of North America.

DOES NOT include smaller waterways or the rivers of Australia. I am limiting MY IPB to MAJOR rivers of the world, rivers able to handle even larger vessels capable of oceanic voyages as well as the conventional smaller watercraft usually employed during riverine maneuvers.

Riverine operations NOT only possible by U.S. forces, but by foreign militaries as well.

I am thinking of nations such as those of the European Union, Russia, China, India, etc. Riverine operations carried out by warships of varying sizes and functions, complementing one another. The U.S. joint operations during the Vietnam War being the archetype in this regard.

[currently, ONLY the U.S. and Columbia on a very limited basis carry out riverine operations??!!]

Here goes!

North Asian:

Ob. [Russia]

Lena. [Russia]

Yenisei. [Russia]

Rivers that drain the Siberian interior into the Arctic Ocean. NOT navigable for a goodly portion of the year. Ice choked for at least six months of the year. Totally within the confines of Russia.

Amur. [Russia] Drains into the Pacific. Also ice choked for a major portion of the year. Separates the border between Russia and China. WILL BE a hot spot and point of contention in the years to come?

South Asian:

Ganges. [Bangladesh/India]

Flows in the Bay of Bengal. Entry from the ocean into Bangladesh. Possible use of riverine forces here? Bangladesh is the one spot on the planet MOST susceptible to societal upheaval and breakdown of a catastrophic nature??!!

Indus. [Pakistan]

Don’t know much about the Indus. Pakistan is a hot spot for U.S. diplomacy. Military intervention by riverine forces using the Indus? I would think NOT so likely.

Irrawaddy. [Burma]

Drains into the ocean slightly downriver from Rangoon. Capital of the oppressive Burmese regime. THE MILITARY JUNTA OF BURMA RECENTLY MOVED THE CAPITAL TWO HUNDRED MILES UP RIVER. AFRAID OF A U.S. NAVAL ATTACK WITH MARINES LANDING TO OVERTHROW THE AUTHORITARIAN REGIME. This all done in consultation with astrologers. The bad guys in Rangoon themselves were afraid of American riverine assault.

"Come you back to Mandalay, where the old Flotilla lay:
Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay"

(Rudyard Kipling)

[Read this amazing stuff about the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company!!]

Mekong. [Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos]

Where riverine forces were used in the Vietnam War. Navigable at least as far as Phnom Penh, Cambodia. NO future use of military force in this part of the world.


Yangtze. [China]

Enormous river with access inland from the mouth about one thousand miles or more. Was used by the U.S. Navy Yangtze River patrol as a means to safeguard American extraterritorial rights in China. Considerable river traffic by large vessels currently plies the Yangtze.

Hwang Ho. [China]

The OTHER great river of China. Also has a lot of commercial river traffic? Navigable for some portion upstream from the mouth? NOT exactly sure. A river extremely prone to flooding and erosion.

"In the lower reaches, from Zhengzhou to the sea, a distance of 786 km, the river is confined to a levee-lined course as it flows to the northeast across the North China Plain before emptying into the Bohai Sea."

Southwest Asian:

Tigris/Euphrates. [Iraq]

Riverine forces being used right now, as we speak. Smaller size craft used for patrol and special operations type missions. NOT self-sustaining vessels of larger size.


Rhine. [Germany]

"the Rhine has been a vital navigable waterway, carrying trade and goods deep inland. It has also served as a defensive feature, and been the basis for regional and international borders. The many castles and prehistoric fortifications along the Rhine testify to its importance as a waterway."

"a long public inscription of Augustus in which he (or his ghost writer) boasts of his exploits, including sending an expeditionary fleet north of the Rheinmouth to Old Saxony and Jutland, which no Roman had ever done (he says)."

[A Roman riverine task force in the days of the "divine" Augustus. Sent north to the lower reaches of the Rhine!!]

Danube. [various European]

Rhone. [France]

The three former rivers all lie within the European community. DO sustain considerable commercial river traffic. Unless the U.S. is going to go to war with the various EU nations, NO possibility of riverine warfare here.

Don. [Russia]

Dnieper. [Ukraine]

Both of the above flow in the Black Sea. Ukraine is very friendly with the U.S. right now.

Volga. [Russia]

No access from the ocean. Drains into the Caspian Sea. Within the boundaries of Russia. Riverine craft WERE used during the Russian Civil War?

[it is a characteristic of rivers flowing through what was the old Soviet Union to have one bank higher and steeper than the other. Called a balka. Why that is I do not know.]


Zambezi. [various southern African nations]

Access into the interior of southern Africa. To fight whom? Robert Mugabe perhaps!!??

Nile. [Egypt/Sudan]

Navigable for a large portion of the river upstream from the Nile delta. [not sure about this since the Aswan Dam was built. British did employ riverine forces in the abortive effort to relieve "Chinese" Gordon and again during the campaign of Kitchener to defeat the Dervish ansar Islamic fanatics. Permission from Egypt has to be sought to use as a point of egress for riverine forces.

Congo. [Zaire]

The entire length of the river NOT totally navigable from the ocean. Entry from the Atlantic is stopped upstream by a cataract. The remainder of the Congo, for over one thousand miles, is navigable. Think here of Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”, and the famous move, “The African Queen”. DOES allow access into the interior of central Africa in a VERY UNSTABLE PART OF THE WORLD!! But, how to get your riverine force beyond the cataracts?

[there used to be a portage railway to haul cargo around the cataracts when the boats could not go any further].

[The war movie “Apocalypse Now” is based upon the Conrad novel, “Heart of Darkness”.]

[during primeval times [hundreds of millions of years ago], when Africa and South America were joined, and prior to the formation of the Andes mountains, the Congo flowed into the Amazon basin, and the Amazon itself emptied into what is now the Pacific. A river was formed at that time of stupendous proportions.]

Niger. [various African nations].

Entry here from the Atlantic into the interior of west Africa. Useful when hunting Al Qaeda Muslim fanatics who seek to hide in a desert fastness? There ARE various tribal anti-government factions at work within Nigeria right now. Use the threat of disrupting oil supplies as a basis for getting concessions from the government. Nigeria is a potentially very unstable nation in a very unstable part of the world!!

South American:

[appreciations of the Magdalena river and it's potential for riverine warfare covered in a previous blog entry.]

Amazon. [Brazil]

One of the greatest forces of nature on the planet. Allows for access into Amazonia at least one thousand miles inland from the Atlantic. Has tributaries that are MAJOR rivers unto themselves. During the rainy season, floods to an extent that would allow for even great egress by riverine military forces. BUT, is the U.S. going to deploy military units to Brazil? I THINK NOT!!

Orinoco. [Venezuela]

Also flows into the Atlantic from well into the interior of South America and Amazonia. Has many large tributaries and is navigable by OCEAN-GOING ships for about a thousand miles upstream. Passes through an area that contains vast deposits of tar sands. Deposits of oil that exceed the reserves of Saudi Arabia?

"The Orinoco river deposits also contains extensive tar sands in the Orinoco oil belt, which may be a source of future oil production."

Undisturbed transportation associated with the drug trade is currently taking place on the waters of the Orinoco. So says a recent edition of the National Geographic. Venezuela under the rule of Hugo Chavez is very anti-American. Hugo has just put his military on a high state of alert, fearing an imminent American attack.

Rio de la Plata/Parana. [Argentina/Brazil/Paraguay]

Rio de la Plata is more an estuary than a river. Flowing inland a considerable distance from the estuary is the Parana . Navigable for one thousand miles inland by ocean going vessels [as far as Rosario]. Tributaries lead inland to Paraguay and Brazil. The juncture of Paraguay/Brazil/Uruguay is a hot-bed of jihad activism?

North American:

Mackenzie. [Canada]

Yukon. [U.S.]

North American rivers that drain also into the Arctic [the Yukon flows into the Bering Sea to be exact]. Situation [ice blockage] the same as with Siberian rivers. Also located in ISOLATED and remote areas devoid of human habitation for the most part.

Mississippi/Missouri/Ohio. [U.S.]

Enormous watershed [3rd largest in world] possessing many large tributaries [Arkansas, Tennessee, etc.]. Was used for riverine warfare during the American Civil War.

St. Lawrence. [Canada]

More an arm of the ocean than anything else. Is a de-militarized zone as a result of the treaty ending the War of 1812? War between the U.S. and Canada? Absurd to even think that a riverine force would be employed here.

Rio Grande. [U.S./Mexico]

Drains into the Gulf of Mexico. Depth at the mouth of the river is ONLY four feet. But is navigable by smaller watercraft for much of its distance. U.S. Border Patrol small craft ALREADY sail this river. This could be an area militarized in the future by riverine units.

The question might be raised by the naysayers, “well, how do you get this riverine task force, the ships, the impedimenta, etc., to the place where needed, and do so in an expeditious manner??” A possible solution would be to utilize a Blue Marlin type of vessel to CARRY the riverine craft to the destination. Such as was done with the U.S.S Cole recently. Makes sense?




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