Skip to comments.NAVY TAKES ON TERROR
Posted on 02/03/2006 10:38:19 AM PST by atomic_dog
NAVY TAKES ON TERROR
Unit expects to deploy sometime in '07
By SETH HETTENA
IMPERIAL BEACH - Six years after suicide bombers killed 17 sailors on the USS Cole in Yemen, the Navy on Thursday commissioned its first active-duty unit with the job of thwarting a repeat attack.
Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron Five will protect shipping lanes and U.S. forces overseas, defend harbors and provide port security with small, fast gunboats not seen since Vietnam. The squadron, expanding to 325 men and women, is expected to make its first deployment in 2007 to either Kuwait, South Korea or the Horn of Africa.
"A lot of the Navy is behind the scenes. They're not in Iraq. They're not in Afghanistan. We, on the other hand, are right in there, on the land," said Lt. T. Wilkes Coleman, 28, of Tuscaloosa, Ala. ''It's totally different than anything we've ever seen before and what makes it unique is it's the first-of-its kind.''
The squadron will deploy with a fleet of 18 aluminum-hulled boats equipped with .50-caliber and 7.62mm machine guns and grenade launchers that can be loaded onto a C-17 transport plane and flown around the globe. In the water, they are capable of reaching speeds in excess of 35 knots. Elements of the squadron go ashore with a mobile sensor unit to provide surveillance of the operating area and relay communications.
''I don't think a lot of people understand the Navy's got a lot of sailors in harm's way,'' said Rear Adm. Donald K. Bullard, who oversees the squadron as head of a new Navy command for anti-terrorism and force protection.
Officers and enlisted sailors shun traditional Navy whites in favor of fatigues, a reminder of their role as a combat force. Training scenarios include how to deal with a suicide bomber riding an explosive-laden Jet-Ski or in a fishing dhow, Bullard said. If needs arise, the squadron can augment the Coast Guard and local authorities to protect the U.S. coast.
The squadron falls under Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, a 40,000-man force headed by Bullard that was created last month. The command is reorganizing the Navy to fill the gaps in security between the big ships that patrol the deep blue waters and the troops ashore that were exploited by the Cole attack. A similar squadron will stand up later this year in Norfolk, Va.
''They are bringing together a whole series of related types of units that are going to be, one would imagine, increasingly important as operations keep getting closer to the shore,'' said John Pike of globalsecurity.org. ''It's very symptomatic of how the Navy's thinking has changed since the end of the Cold War.''
The Navy used patrol, or PT, boats during World War II, including one famously commanded by future President John F. Kennedy. Gunboats and patrol craft were used during the Vietnam War, whose river missions were popularized by the 1979 film ''Apocalypse Now.'' But coastal warfare has since been relegated to the reserves, and serving on big ships remained the pathway to advancement in the Navy.
Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron Five began setting up shop at a little-used landing strip in Imperial Beach in September 2004. Since then, interest in the unit has grown and the squadron has had to turn people away from the command due to the unit's tough physical qualifications.
To prepare for grueling 12-hour shifts in the 120-degree heat of the Persian Gulf, the squadron stresses physical training. Members get paid for two to three hours of physical training each day. Those who can't keep up get two chances to make the grade or they're out.
''In this environment, physical endurance can make the difference between life and death,'' Bullard said.
Like to see jihadists in rubber rafts try to get through that.
Maybe J F'n Kerry can get one to go to Cambodia for Christmas.
So would I, and I'm a former USAF guy!!!
Cool military toys ping!
Any pics of these patrol boats?
So would I. Except the Navy ain't the only ones who would laugh at a 74 year old new recruit with a hitch in his get-along and several senior moments in very short time spans.
Dammit!!! I was just eating lunch at my desk, and you made me pass my entire sandwhich through my nose!!
Glad to hear it! We should do all we can to protect ourselves and our bases, ports, etc. Wish we were doing more, frankly..
When I was married to a Sailor (in another life), we were stationed at the Coronado base, and lived in Imperial Beach. Good memories! :)
Great place for the guys who don't make the grade during UDT/SEAL training. Most of those turned away are highly motivated and in great physical condition ... but due to illness or injury, or just can't stand being wet & cold for days at a time ... would do well in this capacity.
Am I wrong, or does this sound like the duty of the Coastgaurd?
"Yes, very good memories (except for morning rush hour up the Silver Strand)."
No kidding! I was back there a few years ago; nothing's changed on the Silver Strand...but the efficiency apartment we had on the beach is now a Condo selling for $250,000.00!! Unreal.
I loved watching the ships out of the window, and the dolphins and living on the beach. Life was really fun, simple and good back then. Ah, youth! It's totally wasted on the young, LOL! ;)
In U.S. ports yes, although these guys can augment them. I think the main intent is to deploy them to operating areas like the PBRs in Viet Nam. They should send these guys to the Shat-al-Arab, the river that forms part of the boundary between Iraq and Iran and provides access to the Persian Gulf from Basra and Umm Qasr. The Iranians are always cause trouble there and I am certain these guys could set them straight.