posted on Dec, 2 2005 @ 06:57 AM
Littoral combat is a buzz word at the moment but the ideas are nothing new. At the highest levels there are two major threads in modern naval
planning. the 1st is responce to known and percieved threats, the 2nd is flexability in order to handle the unknown. Each navy decides what assets
they require to conduct these two tasks. To take an example, say Holland, They have very little known threats (especially now the cold war is over),
nobody is about to invade, so they are unlkely to be fighting a major war of survival soon. This means that part of the navy is not a major
consideration. What they no need is flexability in their navy for such things as fisheries protection and disaster relief. This has lead them to go
for a larger number of smaller, more cost effective vessels compared to some other countries. They have no need for an aircraft carrier. etc. Their
force is mostly what is now known as a littoral combat force. (they still maintain a few blue water vessels to act as flagships).
On the other hand if you one of the big 4 navies (eg. USA, UK Russia and France). There leading roles in the world mean they have more known and
pecieved threats to their interests. This means they have larger blue water navies with more ship types including carriers, amphibious assualt,
long range subs etc and are able to defend against those known and percieved threats (i.e they have real offensive power projection). They have till
now had large number of large ocean going vessels as that was what was needed ( during the cold war). Since about 1990 the large navies have been
reorganising themselves to meet the changing world. A major percieved threat has gone, and new ones have emerged. This move towards littoral combat
is the repose to this. No major navy will be giving up their blue water capability completly but it is being restructured to fit the new threats.
Frigate and destroyer numbers are being reduced and smaller faster combat vessels are being developed. These are better able to work close inshore
and respond flexably to quickly devoping threats.
They have a very hard job, the last to gulf wars have shown that working close in is an extreamly hostile envornment. (most ships lost in gw 1 and 2
were fast attack craft sunk by helicopter fired missiles, all iraqi tho!) . The major navies have neglected this area of naval skills during the cold
war and are now rapidly building back and updating the skills set needed for these vessels.