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Littoral Operations Center (LOC) at Naval Postgraduate School Will Focus on the Global Littorals

To win in the littorals, start with knowledge

Naval warfare in littoral waters is very different from open ocean operations. The U.S. Navy is dominant in “blue water” scenarios, but less so in the littoral, say naval experts.

“We are good at blue water operations, but we are not that skilled in fighting and operating in the littoral waters in places like the South China, the Baltic and Black Seas as well as the Persian Gulf,” says Prof. Wayne Hughes, a retired U.S. Navy captain who teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, Calif., and author of Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat, published by the Naval Institute Press.

“The Swedes have a very different view of the near-shore or littoral zone. The U.S. Navy looks at it as an area that we travel through quickly to get Marines on shore. The Swedes do not draw hard dark lines between the land and the water in the manner that the U.S. Navy tends to … they see it in an integrated way. How they got to that and managed that integration is something that we want to be able to draw upon,” says Sepp.

NPS has established a new Littoral Operations Center (LOC) to focus on the global littorals and facilitate the U.S. Navy’s transition to security and combat missions in the “green water.”

“The LOC will conduct and promote the study of U.S. Navy and allied partner nation policy, strategy and technology necessary to deal with conventional, irregular and criminal threats in these crowded and cluttered coastal waters and their adjacent lands,” said LOC Director and NPS Senior Lecturer Dr. Kalev Sepp.

Littoral Operations Center LCS 2

The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) demonstrates its maneuvering capabilities in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young

According to Sepp, the littoral is where hydrography, geography, commerce, fishing, mining, political boundaries and claims, and military maneuver and sustainment issues converge, to complicate both the offense and the defense, and to place exceptional demands on naval, aerial, and land forces that must operate, fight, and influence events there.

The U.S. Navy is not only acquiring a large number of the reconfigurable focused mission littoral combat ships (LCS), but also the DDG 1000 guided missile destroyer, which is also optimized to operate in the littoral.

To gain that expertise, Hughes says the U.S. Navy needs to learn from those with the experience, like the Swedish Navy.

“Driven by the small size of their armed forces and the extent and intricacy of their coastline, the Swedes have integrated all their services in a comprehensive littoral anti-access system,” Sepp says. “They have achieved a degree of jointness that, given our force reductions, we would do well to closely examine.”

“The Swedes have a very different view of the near-shore or littoral zone. The U.S. Navy looks at it as an area that we travel through quickly to get Marines on shore. The Swedes do not draw hard dark lines between the land and the water in the manner that the U.S. Navy tends to … they see it in an integrated way. How they got to that and managed that integration is something that we want to be able to draw upon,” says Sepp.

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Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a senior-level communications professional with more than...