Wayne Hughes has written a short essay regarding an influential 1995 article which describes the hazards of operating on the surface in littoral waters. The message from Admiral Ya'ari is that ships fighting in littoral waters must expect to suffer attacks and casualties.
- Wayne P. Hughes Jr., Captain USN (Ret.), "A Prophet for Our Times," Naval War College (NWC) Review, Newport Rhode Island, Summer 2014.
- Yedidia "Didi" Ya'ari, Rear Admiral Israel Navy, "The Littoral Arena: A Word of Caution," Naval War College (NWC) Review, Newport Rhode Island, Spring 1995, vol. XLVIII no. 2. (full issue)
Captain Hughes' analysis specifically calls out Network Optional Warfare (NOW) as relevant to this arena. Introduction excerpt:
It is appropriate for the Naval War College Review to reprint the superb essay by Admiral Ya’ari, because the things he foresaw nearly twenty years ago are all coming to pass—an analytical performance worthy of any Old Testament prophet.
The growing hazards and deadliness of the littoral seas are something all navies must take into account, but particularly the U.S. Navy, because it is only just beginning to grasp the uniqueness of the littoral environment, the need for new tactics, and the value of warships better suited to fight in its clutter. For example, with Professor Don Brutzman of the Naval Postgraduate School, I have reached the conclusion that the goal of “network centric warfare” (NCW) is appropriate only for operating an aircraft carrier battle group, an expeditionary strike group, or a surface action group, none of which can perform its function without radiating almost continuously. But NCW is ill suited for more numerous, distributable, smaller, and less expensive ships intended to fight in the demanding environment described by Admiral Ya’ari.
A better image for inshore operations is one of “network-optional warfare” (NOW) that supports tactics of stealth and surprise, so we can attack effectively first. Such tactics take advantage of the many forms of clutter and concealment. They allow vessels to operate under doctrine that greatly reduces the need to radiate. In the 1973 war at sea, the Syrians found themselves outclassed tactically by the Israeli Sa’ar boats, so their missile ships attempted to hide behind shipping off their own ports. Appropriately, they called the merchant ships “sandbags.” NOW is also well suited to exploiting the advent of unmanned and robotic systems for search, deception, and attack. (full article)
These are important challenges with historic "lessons learned," providing immediate opportunities for deeper technical, tactical, operational, and strategic thinking.
Stand by for ongoing activity. The ratcheting sound you hear in the background is further work under way! Additional efforts and contributions to NOW are welcome.