Many Ship Force Protection Plans Are Flawed

Dyal, J. W.
August 2003
U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings;Aug2003, Vol. 129 Issue 8, p74
Conference Proceeding
Terrorists are known to have targeted ships of the U.S. Navy's fleet and have demonstrated fearless commitment once plans are set in motion. This type of threat seems to grow with every new intelligence report. Yet many force protection plans on Navy warships continue to rely almost exclusively on caution and passive defense. The best defensive posture is achieved by assessing the enemy's probable and most dangerous courses of action, and enabling crews to judge intent and take prompt and appropriate action. Perhaps the most dangerous threat is the high-speed attack of an explosive-laden aircraft coming from busy in- or outbound port traffic lanes near to the ship. Although some intelligence analysts see this as the enemy's primary course of action, others contend that terrorists are more likely to approach the ship deliberately and rely on the confusion created. Dramatic changes were effected in air travel and security after September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; however, similar steps were not taken for maritime security following terrorist attacks on U.S. ships and facilities, and knowledge of continued surveillance by terrorists. From the time a contact appears suspicious, the sailor must alert supervisors and warn the suspicious vessel with pencil flares or other visual means. Crews should be regularly trained in force protection. Planners should analyze the threat level and characteristics of every environment their ship enters. They must ensure that prescribed actions in each zone conform to the local situation, and can be managed with available assets.


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