2003 CONOPS, Chapter 2:
NAVAL FORCES LITTORAL THREAT CONTINUUM
2.0 NAVAL FORCES LITTORAL THREAT CONTINUUM
This chapter discusses conventional and unconventional threats to naval surface forces operating in the littoral.
Naval forces operating in the littoral in the near to mid-range timeframe (2005 to 2015) will face a variety of threats and will be required to engage a large number and variety of targets. Threats will derive from hostile (rogue) nations as well as non-state actors that may be ethnic, religious, or criminal-based. These threats will increase in sophistication and lethality further into the mid-range timeframe. However, most potential threat entities may not have procured the more sophisticated weapons in large numbers.
Even if procured, the weapons systems must be employed properly which may require a significant training infrastructure, or alternatively, foreign advisors. Fire-and-forget weapons must also be properly employed to be effective. If rogue nations and non-state threat entities do not choose to upgrade their arsenals, due to fiscal or other reasons, lower technology weapons will continue to pose a danger to friendly naval forces.
The threat to naval forces will vary depending on the scenario. The principal threat will be to the naval units operating in the littoral, the forces involved in the ship-to-objective phase of operations, and the sensors and sensor platforms supporting these operations. Threat entities may seek to interdict or degrade the effectiveness of naval surface fires and associated command and control networks. Terrorists may also pose a threat to naval forces in their homeport, overseas, or while underway.
2.2 CONVENTIONAL LITTORAL DEFENSES
Naval forces, networks, and naval fires ordnance are susceptible to attack from a wide variety of enemy weapon systems and information warfarerelated activities. This tactical activity can be categorized as reactive or proactive depending on the normal mode in which they engage their targets. The following lists define what is meant by each category, and provide examples of weapons systems or platforms that typically fall into that category.
2.2.1 Reactive Defenses
Weapons systems or platforms that react to the approach of opposing forces:
-- coastal defense cruise missiles (mobile or fixed)
-- coastal defense artillery (mobile or fixed)
-- coastal defense torpedoes (fixed)
-- integrated air defense systems
-- ground forces (patrols and garrisons)
-- aircraft (defensive counter air and close air support)
-- patrol boats (can be equipped with cruise missiles, torpedoes, and guns)
-- radio-frequency weapons
2.2.2 Proactive Defenses
Weapons systems or platforms that seek and engage opposing forces:
-- surface combatants (can be equipped with surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles, torpedoes, and guns)
-- aircraft (offensive counter air and strike aircraft)
-- special operations forces (SOF)
-- submarines (including mini-subs)
-- tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs)
-- information warfare attack operations designed to deny, deceive, disrupt, or destroy
Table 2-1 summarizes the type and basic capabilities of threats likely to be encountered in the near to mid-range timeframe. As higher technology weapons proliferate, threat capabilities will improve. The ranges provided are average. Some specific higher technology weapon systems may greatly exceed the listed range, e.g., the S-400 Series SAMs have an advertised 250 nautical mile (nm) range.
2.3 UNCONVENTIONAL LITTORAL THREATS
Potential threats will most likely use unconventional means against U.S. naval forces by taking advantage of the constraints imposed by rules of engagement and U.S. forces’ adherence to the laws of war. Some rogue nations possess large numbers of fast, highly maneuverable, surface craft armed with crew served weapons and small arms that may conduct swarm attacks. Several potential rogue nations have large numbers of missile firing craft that could also engage friendly forces, generating multi-axis strikes in an attempt to overwhelm defenses. Commercial shipping can also be modified to carry hidden weapons similar to Q-ships1 from World Wars I and II. Non-state actors may use similar craft and ships for attacks against friendly shipping and/or port facilities.
Footnote 1: Combatants disguised as noncombatant vessels. These ships appeared to be harmless until they were in a position to attack.
Rogue nations can also use commercial and general aviation aircraft as surveillance assets and potentially as weapons platforms or as remote controlled weapons. Non-state actors can use similar aircraft as weapons.
Several rogue nations, as well as non-state actors, are known to either possess or are actively seeking chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE) agents and related material. The proliferation of CBRNE agents, the means of delivering them, and the expressed desire by several non-state actors to employ them to cause mass casualties suggests these agents may be used against U.S. naval forces in the future. In general, chemical or biological agents and radiological material are considered to be cheaper and easier to produce or acquire than nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the seizure of special nuclear materials on the black market has lent new credibility to the nuclear threat as well. The combination of unconventional tactics, possibly including suicide attacks with CBRNE weapons, place U.S. naval forces operating in the littorals at increased risk throughout the timeframe of this document.