Accession Number:



The Rise and Fall of the Brown Water Navy: Changes in United States Navy Riverine Warfare Capabilities from the Vietnam War to Operation Iraqi Freedom

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[Technical Report, Master's Thesis]

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U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

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The US is currently involved in a counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq, and similar to the counterinsurgency campaign conducted almost thirty years ago in Vietnam, riverine warfare is an important part. Current riverine forces include the Navys Special Boat Team Twenty-Two and the Marine Corps Small Craft Company. Both, however, are merely a shadow in comparison to their Vietnam predecessors, and for one, their days are numbered. The US Navy did not possess any inland patrol forces prior to the Vietnam War and had only a handful of coastal patrol boats, despite the lessons of her past and of her contemporaries. France, in her ill-fated campaign to maintain the Indo-china colonies, used the rivers of Southeast Asia extensively. Special units, called Dinassauts, transported and supported infantry via the inland waterways of Vietnam. The South Vietnamese River Assault Groups continued this practice. American advisors noted their operations, and several studies were conducted. Yet, prior to 1965, the US Navy applied very few resources to the problem of riverine warfare. By 1968, however, three naval task forces comprised of over 600 vessels were operating on the waterways and coasts of Vietnam. Despite their success, the Navy quickly discarded them after the war.

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[A, Approved For Public Release]