Leeds in the Littoral

Ones of those amorphous definitions that seems to change depending on your viewpoint is the ‘littoral’

Whilst catching up with a spot of twitter this evening I saw this being re-tweeted

Importance of the littoral : 61% of world’s total Gross National Income comes from within 100 km of the coastline

Why not 200, or 5, or 5?

So, off to Google Map Tools.

Two other definitions

1. A coastal region; a shore.

2. The region or zone between the limits of high and low tides.

So by the Tweet definition, proclaiming 100km as within the littoral, it would seem the residents of Leeds are now in a coastal region.

Is this another example of using dodgy and misleading statistics to reinforce a point of view, clutching at straws in order to desperately make your perspective sound impressive or just a reasonable statement of fact?

We are an island as well you know :)

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The Other Chris
The Other Chris
June 8, 2012 10:47 pm

Or it highlights how small an island nation we are.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 8, 2012 11:09 pm

Littoral…

Ugh, that word just gives me the creeps. I put it up there with “Warfighter”.

Derek
Derek
June 8, 2012 11:18 pm

Ever been to Nebraska?

Seriously though, this is meaningless, the point is that the Global economy depends on the sea, even something manufactured in Nebraska would be exported by sea.

Observer
Observer
June 8, 2012 11:23 pm

Lies! Lies and statistics!

:P

I blame the US, they could not possibly tell their people that they were constructing something so plebian as a “patrol vessel” or a “corvette” or a “frigate” for the low, low price of 450M USD, without research cost, 1.8B with. So they had to build “Litoral Combat Ships” used best against asymetrical threats, piracy and budgets, mostly your own.

x
x
June 8, 2012 11:23 pm

Compared to much of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Eurasia Leeds is very close to the sea. One of the little ships in the HM’s pageant was a steam tug from Yorkshire’s river network. Of course on the other side of the hill there is the Manchester Ship Canal. In the south west we find Gloucester is an inland port thanks to the Gloucester and Sharpness/Berkeley Canal. And the Thames goes the other way. The whole island isn’t just close to the sea but riddled with ship canals too.

James
James
June 8, 2012 11:44 pm

TD,

no idea how you use Google Map Tools, but surely the better graphic is to overlay various 12.1nm offshore sea ranges onto a map. i.e. range of Chinook with a bellyful of Royal on board, NGS reach inland, coverage of CORMORANT, etc. You could expand the definition to come up with just how far offshore QEC would need to be deployed for safety so that the CAP is more of a 40 minute commuter run for a 10 minute workday and 40 minutes back, and even the Andrew reckon it is ridiculously too far.

Observer
Observer
June 8, 2012 11:49 pm

@James

TD was complaining about the tweet defination being too broad and sneaky, it wasn’t him defining “litoral”.

Don’t do a Cleopatra and maul the messenger. :P

tsz52
tsz52
June 9, 2012 12:59 am

Dunno – seems like a dodgy definition on the face of it, but it shows what you can accomplish with an even slightly decent naval presence in the enemy’s littorals… in a *really* demoralising ‘So you think you’re safe do you?’ kind of way.

On the odd occasion when I’m stood outside Leeds train station smoking tabs, I’ve felt totally secure that I could laugh in the face of any puny frigates that might be sailing off Southport or wherever: Pretty sure me and my fellow commuters never dreamt that a single nefarious frigate could rain a few hundred Vulcano rounds on us over the next quarter of an hour or so, if it wanted.

That might cure a few potential foes of their sea-blindness eh?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 3:25 am

It highlights that you are never further than 70 miles form the sea in the UK.
Compare that to 1030 miles in N America. 570 miles in Australia and well over 1000 in Asia.
Perhaps a better illustration of the importance of the littoral is shown by the lights at the link below.
http://www.nightearth.com/

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 9, 2012 3:25 am

Without wishing to turn this into another semantics argument, the problem I’ve always had with the term “sea-blindness” is that it implicitly assumes (or is used in such a context) that the solution to “sea blindness” is to take to the high seas with a large naval force.

In the scenario above involving raining Vulcano rounds, the solution could be many things, many of them non-floating based.

tsz52
tsz52
June 9, 2012 5:10 am

Chris.B.: Yup, the phrase sea-blindness does usually get used as part of an argument that then goes into trade, then SLOC and EEZ protection, then global SLOC with big beautiful fleets of aircraft carriers, and so on, but it doesn’t intrinsically contain that whole argument chain whenever it’s used.

What I meant above is sea-blindness also includes fairly deeply (they think) in-land folks thinking that they’re perfectly safe from any attack from the sea, as long as they don’t go too near to anything that might merit a visit from a scarce ship-launched SSM.

I’m as far from being sea-blind (all definitions thereof) as it’s possible to be, and know far more about naval weapons than most of your average punters, but I was honestly a bit shocked that all of the places where I travel, which all seem like pretty epic train journeys apart, and all totally landlocked, could all be hit by a Vulcano from a pair of cheap-ass frigates; one off Southport, one off Grimsby. I imagine that most folks would be even more shocked than I would if the Vulcanos started coming in, all over the place to cause maximal demoralisation [I refuse to use that horrible phrase, but you know the one I mean?], with the frigates’ big magazines.

Just to be clear:-

I’m not on about anybody doing that to us, but thinking in terms of somebody (maybe us) doing that to somebody else, equally ‘Sea? lol whatevs – it’s miles away!’ but with less ability to do much about those pesky frigates than we have;

I’m not suggesting that the best defence against such a tactic is to have a Grand Fleet patrolling your waters;

I am saying that I’ve always been in favour of the ol’ 127/64; and this post of TD’s has made me appreciate it even more as an additional tool in the military box (and the usefulness of having some stuff operating in the enemy’s littorals).

BTW, unless anyone else does first, I’ll have a dig around to see if there are any official military definitions of littoral/littoral ops, and why the 100km/61% GNI figure (I guess that there’s a big GNI drop off after that 100km point?).

APATS: Cheers for that Nightearth link – interesting.

phrank
phrank
June 9, 2012 5:22 am

I think a more useful tool is to take one ship with asm and place it in the choke points of the world with a chart showing what goes through there. That might make the point to people what the ocean means to them.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 9, 2012 5:57 am

@tsz52,

I get where you’re coming from. Throw in TLAM and things get even deeper.

Observer
Observer
June 9, 2012 6:38 am

Until you realise that if you are in ER 76mm range, your frigate is also in MRLS/155mm range, then it becomes a duel.

tsz52
tsz52
June 9, 2012 7:22 am

Pfah – away with your puny 76mm. Anyway, that’s why all these new spangly ships designed to operate in the littorals are made of aluminium – the land artillery shells just pass straight through without detonating… or something…. :P

IXION
June 9, 2012 7:56 am

One can see how,

‘An future front line littoral warfighter, using effects based opperational concepts’

Might find that definition useful (sorry Chris B):)

Surely this is a case for horses (or definitions) for courses?

Littoral, in a millitary sense should surely mean those areas of the land mass, overwhich a marine based opposing force can effectivly opperate. ]

Therefore littoral means different things to different naval forces.

For the USA Nimtzes and all, then yes the whole uk is littoral.

Observer
Observer
June 9, 2012 9:00 am

@tsz

The Vulcano is 76mm. Unless you meant the upsized 127mm one. :P But the 76mm one is more common.

And the Freedom LCS is made of aluminium/steel components mix, which has been speculated to be the cause of some of the hull cracks(different expansion rates). Oh well, shit happens.

James
James
June 9, 2012 9:04 am

Observer,

a fairly one-sided duel. The floaty little boat needs some STA of its’ target, which may not be easy to obtain unless it is blindly firing at a grid and last week’s satellite imagery. It is a lot easier for the land-based force to track the ship by radar or eyes on, and coordinate fires from as you mention 155 or GMLRS, plus send land-launched munitions at it. And send out some patrol boats with ATGW if AShM or AH are not available.

I’m pretty sure that any little frigate underneath a bombardment of GMLRS, 155mm HE, and inbound missiles is going to blink first. The paintwork is going to get seriously scratched.

Raises an interesting question. What would be the effect of 40 rounds of 155mm HE with impact fuses hitting a modern frigate, and ATGWs the hull? It probably would not sink the boat, I guess, but how disabling would it be in terms of combat systems, personnel, damage control water pipes, and communication antennae? I think it could probably take the ship out of action, at least.

If so, it is another calculus. The frigate would probably need base dockyard repair, and certainly not able to function effectively as part of the overall effort, so it is “effectively sunk” as far as that conflict goes. 40 rounds of 155mm cost less than £50,000, and can be precision fired out to about 35 miles. Too much of naval doctrine assumes that the floaty little boats operate without OPFOR having a say in matters.

James
James
June 9, 2012 9:12 am

…actually, make that 1 second delay fuses. A 155mm HE shell that penetrates to a compartment or passageway before exploding is going to cause some serious overpressure in confined spaces. 40 of them would be pretty devastating internally to personnel, systems and controls.

milner
milner
June 9, 2012 9:23 am

Al Faw to Basra ~ 100km
http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm

Really a question of what sort of capabilities you want your Navy-Marines to have.

x
x
June 9, 2012 9:30 am

When it comes to geography our minds are still walking around the African savannah and only moving a few miles a day.

x
x
June 9, 2012 10:14 am

I have some “Fly Navy” stickers. For balance.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
June 9, 2012 10:29 am

“Is this another example of using dodgy and misleading statistics to reinforce a point of view, clutching at straws in order to desperately make your perspective sound impressive or just a reasonable statement of fact?”

I see nothing wrong with the notion per-see, tho by no means am I defending the given definition of 100km.

I also see nothing wrong with the word ‘littoral’ itself, as pointed out elsewhere it seems to be an established term in British defence lexicon.

What is the littoral?

Is it the landward depth to which naval assets can deploy comprehensive ‘effect’?
Ie the aggregate of NGS, tac-tom, and naval air, in which case you might plausibly argue it was in the region of 80km…..

Is it the landward depth to which an amphibious task group is expected to penetrate in a 72 hour mission as per British ‘doctrine’?
Ie the presumption of an unopposed landing in hostile country, followed by up to 40km of manoeuvre deemed necessary to support objectives…..

I’m not being prescriptive here, quite obviously I have made the examples up, but……. I see no problem with defining the littoral.

In fact, I would be very surprised if we haven’t, purposefully using the term to define the limits of naval effect!

wf
wf
June 9, 2012 10:47 am

@James: I’m not a massive fan of NGS against modern opponents, but come on. I daresay a single 155 would have a very significant impact on a destroyer, but getting that impact would require a sea search radar and a hell of a lot of 155mm/GMLRS since the target is moving, and this would be against an opponent with the ability to shoot down such shells if they were getting close. To both get the rate of fire required to saturate the defences and to compensate for both the inaccuracy of dumb shells and the lack of terminal guidance, I reckon you would need a regiment, and that isn’t cheap. A radar and some truck mounted ASM’s on the other hand would be very effective.

As for ATGW from small boats, launching a Javelin (MILAN would be impossible due to the unfortunate tendency of the sea to move during guidance) from within 2.5k of an alarmed destroyer, would be optimistic at best. I am a massive fan of Keith Mills, but he wisely drew in the Guerrico before opening fire, who’s captain seemed to assume he was invulnerable.

Vulcano seems like a great replacement for the 4.5, especially with a few SF teams ashore who can supply the GPS locations of every bunker and trench in advance of a landing: much faster and cheaper than sending aircraft.

Phil
June 9, 2012 11:13 am

Fire kills ships dead and forever. Anything else just makes holes.

Torpedo’s excepted.

James
James
June 9, 2012 11:14 am

wf,

obviously this is all conjecture, but I made the example merely to illustrate that life is not entirely one-sided, and that OPFOR has a say. I lose track of the amount of times I have been subjected to Powerpoint briefings illustrating some fantastic networked capability (either Fires or comms networking) in which everything is interconnected and working perfectly and nothing goes wrong. I’ve even given a few of them myself, to my shame, both in green or in a business suit. Life is not like that, in reality.

So if you sail a frigate nearish to the enemy shore and try to put it into action, OPFOR is going to get pissed off and reel out whatever he’s got to try to stop you. It may not be doctrinally correct or how we would do things, but then he’s not us.

A patrol boat with a Soviet ATGW bolted on is a threat, as are 4 of them in a converging arc. Aim the ATGWs at the arse end of the boat, and the chances are that CIWS may be overwhelmed by volley fire, and bang, your rudder or prop shaft has taken damage, and you are stopped in the water or sailing around in small predictable circles. If each patrol boat only fires 4 missiles, you’ve got 16 incoming in volleys, and the likelihood of a leaker increases substantially. So, assuming OPFOR gets lucky, does the Captain RN of the floaty little boat feel his chances of surviving mission kill have significantly decreased?

The cunning patrol boat commander would also order one of the boats to fire directly at the visible CIWS, and they are not armoured. You may think that is an unlikely scenario, except that is exactly what the Iranians train for.

As far back as 1998, BATES had a mode for predicting movement and reverse engineering a firing solution in 4 dimensions for AS90: the three geospatial dimensions, plus a “firing now!” time to ensure that all rounds landed on target at the same time. BATES was pretty crap software, but the maths is universal and not that hard, so we can’t expect OPFOR not to be able to do the same.

I’m not predicting complete ruination of the littoral doctrine, merely observing that OPFOR gets a say, and that floaty little boats are very susceptible to unconventional attack.

I have no doubt at all that a proponent of the littoral doctrine will quickly come back and declare such a scenario inconceivable, much as the Captains of Repulse and Prince of Wales probably did in December 1941.

Mike
Mike
June 9, 2012 3:03 pm

Pretty ignorant statement…I assume New York city produces (or should it be now produced?) a healthy chunk of the USA’s GDP, but almost all of it from tertiary/services…

As mentioned, all it does is make people realise how small an island we are, but without reminding people that most of our GDP comes from the tertiary services…not trade/the seas, it would have been wiser to mention the amount of food/resource inports from the sea the UK needs, not GDP.

Ahhh the ‘go navy’ and ‘fly navy’ stickers… always fun to zap over.

Anixtu
Anixtu
June 9, 2012 3:26 pm

James,

“You may think that is an unlikely scenario, except that is exactly what the Iranians train for.”

Don’t you think we train to counter what they openly train for? Haven’t you noticed the autocannon and MGs that festoon every warship and auxiliary? Haven’t we discussed swarm attacks on here before?

In the NGFS scenario why have they been allowed to get close enough to an FF/DD to launch ATGWs? Why (other than overly restrictive ROE) were they not taken out by carrier air, or the FF/DD’s helicopter or medium calibre gun?

x
x
June 9, 2012 3:39 pm

It is nice to see this is all viewed from the perspective of how we make money and not protecting the population.

Phil
June 9, 2012 4:23 pm

My God man!

Money is happiness and progress!

Anything that interferes in this such as rest, family and bodily functions is an enemy of the state and an enemy of progress. Have a word with yourself.

wf
wf
June 9, 2012 5:28 pm

@James: all agreed. I’m just not a fan of the “it’s so simple, fifty quid and some duct tape and will be useless” tendency. It’s not quite that simple.

ATGW are useful if you are within 2-3 km, and the sea is going to have to look like a millpond for you to target CIWS or VLS silos from a small boat. It’s is an issue if your ROE is overly restrictive or you are being stupid, but not otherwise. Artillery is designed (and conversely it’s maths) for targets that don’t move, hence the howitzer economy and advantages of high ballistic arcs.

Repulse and POW were sunk by very conventional air attack, against which ship mounted AA was insufficient. An argument for carrier air…tssk, you’re slipping James :-P

James
James
June 9, 2012 5:36 pm

Anixtu,

it depends on how you see the start point. You see it as “all weapons cleared for immediate use”, I see it as “holy crap, who changed the rules?”. The Iranians were clearly able to get one over on HMS Cornwall with patrol boats, so let’s not assume it cannot happen, particularly when the hostages were taken in international waters, well out of range of the bristling MGs you refer to, but well within the 5 km range of the ATGW mounted on the Iranian patrol boats, far less the torpedoes on the 3 Iranian MTBs that stood back one thousand yards in their own waters. And not even the ship’s helicopter to give support. What happened there was an example of unconventional tactics by OPFOR, and the Andrew did not see it coming, nor had any effective defence. You can say the same for the Captain of the USS Cole.

Clearly, an institutional cockup by the Andrew and an individual gross failure by both the OIC the boarding party and the Captain of HMS Cornwall, who instead of being imprisoned which he clearly should have been, for quite a few years and lose all his pension rights, was moved “to a post where his talents and experience can be used to best effect” i.e. yet another typical MoD establishment cover-up and failure to address the real flaws in thinking.

Please don’t come back and tell me that lessons were learned and that it could never happen again, because that is risible. What will happen next is something different, and the Andrew will be caught out again.

It’s not an anti-Navy position, because the Army or RAF are equally capable of making stupid mistakes. It’s just that in the context of this thread, it is littoral warfare we are discussing.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 5:44 pm

Well the Libyans used both 155MM self propelled artillery and MLRS against Ships during OUP and never got closer than 500M. Though apparently that was quite exciting!
The problem they had was targeting and the Ships manouvering. That and the fact that they generally got some 4.5 from the RN 100M from the French or some fast air down their throat pretty quickly.
Those were duels fought at almost visual ranges. A frigate 30NM offshore would require a radar antenna height of 100M to detect it. Move the Frigate 50Nm offshore and teh coastal radar need to be 300M high. add in a bit of live time satellite or a UAV and it is a decent first strike option against the radar installations and any coastal batteries.

James
James
June 9, 2012 5:53 pm

wf,

Repulse and POW sunk by, on that day, very unconventional air attack. That’s the issue.

You’d be surprised at what patrol boat ATGW can do. DERA managed to take out small floating pallet targets with Milan at Rosehearty Bay from a leased PB-sized small boat in Sea State 4, and that was back in 1986. They scored 11 hits – on a f*cking pallet, not a frigate – from 15 missiles fired. Milan was hardly that advanced in target tracking and guidance either. I don’t know about you, but Sea State 4 is distinctly non-millpond to me, especially onboard a smallish PB hull.

(‘Twas a trial for both Commachio Group and School of Infantry, onboard operators from both units)

Also, artillery fire is perfectly capable of firing on predictive targets, as opposed to static ones. It’s only dam geometry and a stopwatch. You can probably get the software to work it all out in an iPhone these days.

Lots of fairly conventional, maybe even complacent thinking going on here…..

James
James
June 9, 2012 5:58 pm

APATS,

you also assume all advantages with the frigate. OPFOR is perfectly capable of hoisting a radar several thousand meters into the air over his own coastline. Moving the frigate from 30-50 nms offshore degrades the frigate’s mission much more than it does OPFORS’s capabilities.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 6:00 pm

James, Of course arty can fire on predictive targets but the whole point in a ship moving under fire is that it is not predictive. Alterations of course and or speed every x seconds is the order of the day.
I have read the trials papers and the results of the Maritime Warfare Centre Green paper which has a matrix of sea states weapons systems embarked on certain platforms and accurate firing ranges. This forms a response matrix.
Trust me lots of people take this very seriously. Anti FIAC drills both as part of a scenario with build up and completely unannounced form a good part of a Ships pre deployment training.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 6:04 pm

James, It then becomes a beautiful SAM target. Ships have never really been capable of taking on shore installations in a pounding match but their strength has always been that they can move and are inherently harder to locate than fixed shore emplacements.

James
James
June 9, 2012 6:18 pm

APATS,

Hmmm, overall I believe the balance of advantage is with the coastline. If OPFOR starts chucking different threats simultaneously, life gets tricky on the floaty little boat.

So far we’ve got:

Radar for tracking. Several radars.
UAVs launched easily from on shore. The Iranians now have UAVs with TOW-type missiles.
Artillery batteries with software for firing on moving targets. Several batteries no doubt, up and down the coastline.
Patrol boats with decent enough ATGW, 4-5 km range. Lots of them.
MTBs with 10 km range torpedoes. Also lots of them.
We haven’t spoken yet about SSKs or sea mines, particularly those with some autonomy or reverse engineered from CAPTOR. Or the upgraded SILKWORM missiles.

All of this happening right here, right now in the next likely OPFOR, who also possess a choke point in Hormuz.

Going to be a brave Captain RN in his floaty little boat who thinks his Merlin and a Skynet connection gives him an advantage.

Jed
Jed
June 9, 2012 6:24 pm

Observer – ref:

“The Vulcano is 76mm. Unless you meant the upsized 127mm one. :P But the 76mm one is more common”

Well actually the 127mm came first, then 155mm and only recently did they announce development of a 76mm version, which I don’t believe has finished testing yet – in fact I am not sure any version is actually “in production” for the Italian or any other nations forces – yet……

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 6:27 pm

James, we have gone from a shore battery on the coast to the whole Iranian ORBAT! I do not believe that would take a brave RN FF/DD CO but rather a foolish one.
The answer to that threat is that right here and I mean right now in that AOR are the Abraham Lincoln and Enterprise with their associated Battle Groups. Coalition Air forces at Al Udeid in Qatar. 5th Fleet and coalition assets in Bahrain, a few subs plus anything we stage out of Diego.

James
James
June 9, 2012 6:37 pm

APATS,

as there were when HMS Cornwall had her face rubbed in the shit.

The point being that if you are Iran, you play a different game. You get coy on the boundaries you claim, you get underhand on things like mines, you don’t play NATO rules, you go for small, cheap and expendable threats like swarm attacks using PBs and ATGW, you play the casualties game, you obfuscate in the UN, you sell oil cheap to the non-permanent members of the UNSC and oil very cheap to the veto-wielding Chinese.

Hornblower is meanwhile seriously under-equipped, and also trying to plan things like the friendship visit to Muscat in 2 weeks time.

wf
wf
June 9, 2012 6:42 pm

@James: I stand corrected. My only experience with Milan was using the simulator built into the FP and I found it fiddly enough (don’t like twist grips!). At what sort of range were they firing?

Still lairy about artillery striking moving targets, especially given recent experience. I’ll put that into the “if desperate but don’t base your defence policy on it” box. I hope my previous ideas re the applicability of ATGM in unconventional scenarios convince you I’m not just ruling options out :-)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 6:47 pm

James,

Indeed but you continue to change the goal posts slightly. If we did decide to attack Iran I was pointing out the forces available for the job. The original discussion was about Frigates being used to shell littoral areas. Cornwall was the Iranians beating their chest and us maintaining the status quo as the priority was to continue rebuilding the Iraqi Navy and providing security for the Oil Platforms in the NAG before handing them over. We were never going to bomb or shell Iran over the incident.

James
James
June 9, 2012 6:53 pm

APATS,

but that’s you trying to get both sides to play by our rules (much as I do with the children when they argue). All Iran wants is freedom of national manoeuvre (i.e. f*ck off from our 12 mile area), and freedom of threat (see what we can do in the Strait of Hormuz). She doesn’t want to take on the USN. On the other hand, if a frigate starts shelling some coastal installation, she’ll be on street fighter rules. And I do believe that in a much deeper intellectual manner than we’ll ever achieve, she will have studied the capabilities and also political constraints of likely enemies and built her forces to suit.

Incidents like the Cornwall are nothing more than them testing the boundaries to see of reactions at both tactical military and political levels, for fine-tuning. Sadly, the Andrew let us down big time with Cornwall, hence my view that a treason charge should have been considered for a number of senior officers over that incident. It could have been seen coming from months out. Instead, we sent some tearful little boys and girls out on some motorised dinghies.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 7:06 pm

James, A singleton frigate is not going to start shelling Iran! It may well however shell pirate bases in Somalia and did indeed shell targets ashore in Libya. With extended range guided ammo its ability to do so will be increased. As even guided shells are cheaper than missiles then it offers a useful option.
With the UAE pipeline to Fujaraih opening in the next week, Iran is quiclly becoming the only Gulf country without any means of by passing a closure of the Straits of Hormuz.
As for the Iranian forces capabilities, an awful lot of tri service multi national red cells have done plenty of work as well. Iran would of course get a vote, the enemy always does but whether that vote would be any more succesful than lbyas or Iraqs is open to question.
Hopefully such a situation can be avoided!

x
x
June 9, 2012 7:07 pm

If that had been a two vehicle cavalry patrol moving in a disputed area then under the same circumstances surrounded and outnumbered by a similar equipped “enemy” with heavy units close by the outcome, considering the British way, would have been the same.

Post GW2 the MoD handled security poorly in the upper Gulf. Labour’s “us too” foreign policy was never matched by the necessary hardware. And as I have said the RN doesn’t produce “soldier sailors” which is what needed in such operations. (Really these things should be left to Royal but they can’t be picking up Army slack and doing their real job.) We needed 6 to 8 of these or something similar,

http://www.swiftships.com/subcommon.php?pN&IhG&tVr

No way would HMG stump up for such nor would a 1SL ask for them either firstly because it isn’t the RN way and secondly I fear there is no “imagination” in the Service.

wf
wf
June 9, 2012 7:11 pm

@James: you’re thinking all the right things IMHO vs the Iranians. I might have included Shkval rocket assisted torpedoes as something that worried me too. But as always, major coordination of a swarming assault in time will require quite a bit of chatter, giving us an opportunity to preempt if we’re awake.

The crux would seem to be ensuring our ROE are sufficiently aggressive. Perhaps we could do our own out of the box thinking to engineer an incident that would justify an expansion in the ROE. Or perhaps the Israelis could supply one for us :-)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 7:13 pm

@ TD, Do cluster munitions operate in the same manner when they hit water as land though? Is it he sheer amount of munitions or the manner they react and splinter on impact? Someone on here will know!

x
x
June 9, 2012 7:30 pm

@ wf & TD

I think if we ever do have an exchange of fire with China one of the reasons we will loose is because they don’t play by our rules. When that happens there will be a lot of intellectual stress in the command staffs of the West. Staffs inculcated with Western liberal ideals through out their education and professional careers. They will have to reconcile their idea of civilisation against protecting it using methods and practices that sit outside the idea
itself. One hopes if that day arrives there remains enough military back bone to deal with the problem and the politicians. The idea of an equal opportunities military armed with less than lethal weapons and served logistically by Eddie Stobart, commanded from Brussels or Berlin (I get them confused) leaves me feeling a bit queasy.

wf
wf
June 9, 2012 7:51 pm

@x: agreed. There’s an awful lot of “oh, this won’t happen because no one does it anymore” thinking going on. But we see that all the time here

James
James
June 9, 2012 7:54 pm

APATS,

there is a prox / airburst setting on (G)MLRS.

I seem to be in a lifelong position of playing the red commander. I recall once when I was asked to do so for a police exercise as part of an anti-terrorism course for the constabularies of NW England. My opening serial of machine gunning a school playground in Preston at break-time to divert attention and resources was ruled out of order by the senior DS – this was a couple of years pre-Dunblane. So was my Plan B of setting firebombs in a shopping mall in Lancaster. Apparently, these incidents would have been considered “Regional Emergencies” and thus attract every police resource going (that was sort of my point), leaving nothing available for any response to my other dastardly plans. It’s really quite sad that is how the coppers thought in 1993, or that a notional exercise scenario of 6 committed terrorists could completely stymie a whole region of the UK. And just in case anyone reading this may have some emotional reaction to Dunblane, I am sorry to cause that and emphasise that the exercise preceded those tragic events by 2 years, and that I am the father now of two children myself.

Nevertheless, have you not noticed that large piece of Iranian coastline “outside” of the Straits of Hormuz? Or the serious investment the Iranians are making to create a new port from scratch?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 8:01 pm

James, That is the job of the red commander. Why else do we consider the “enemy most dangerous COA”?
The problems the Iranians have is that 90% percent of their oil has to go through Kharg Island onto tankers and south. They have not started construction of a pipeline South of Hormuz yet and estimates of construction time are 2 years.

Anixtu
Anixtu
June 9, 2012 8:09 pm

Iran doesn’t need to worry about exporting oil by sea if they ‘close the straits’. It will not be an option for them, regardless of where their export terminals are.

James
James
June 9, 2012 8:11 pm

APATS,

two years is not so long in the grand scheme of things, particularly while the west is obsessed with Eurobonds and elections. An Iranian strategic push (which it appears to be), coupled with a lack of planning permission issues, lots of Chinese money and lots of cheap immigrant labour can get quite a reasonable port going in 2 years, I would have thought.

Oddly (maybe completely unlinked), most western NATO nations are going to be balls out extracting kit from Afghanistan in 2 years, and not very balanced to respond to Mr Angry Mullah.

Anixtu,

Iran has built up 4 years of credits through oil exports, and has a strategic reserve of 12 months of medicines, food and locally stockpiled oil for power stations. Yes, the international community could make life difficult with sanctions and blockades, but the country is actually self-sufficient in food and water. Is the west self-sufficient on oil?

x
x
June 9, 2012 8:19 pm

@ wf said “oh, this won’t happen because no one does it anymore”

I do find it amusing it when some here argue away almost all possible engagements. But I am just a silly civilian what do I know?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 8:27 pm

James, depends on the reaction from the West, If Iran shutting Straits of Hormuz and attacking any Western Shipping transiting on the Omani side is seen as an act of war then it actually has about 12 hours worth of stockpiles, 14 hours for re attacks. As for removing kit from Afghanistan, that is land kit and I am not sure anyone really wants to try and occupy Iran.
About 11 million barrels pass through Hormuz every day,a lot of it goes East. pipeline capacity is about 8 million though most hardly utilised. Could Iran keep them shut long enough to cripple Western economies (more than we already are)?
I for one hope we never find out.

James
James
June 9, 2012 8:35 pm

AAPTS,

that’s why the most stressing scenario is some for of big argument, threats and so on, but stopping short of war. Sends oil prices skywards, doesn’t involve bombing, causes the west huge angst and problems with running quasi-peace enforcement operation, but not being allowed by the international community to completely shut down Iran.

Why would Iran want to go to war with the west, which it would lose, when it can slowly grind the living will out of us? They can cost us bucket loads more difficulty than we can them, short of war and with the west playing nicely according to ROE, and them playing along only enough to prevent the first TLAM strike. Particularly if they have the Chinese veto in their pocket (and China not very happy with the US at the ‘mo, what with the rebalancing of the US fleets etc, plus holding about a third of US foreign debt that they can afford to dump at less national cost than to the US).

That’s why Israel is a strategic card for the US. At a nod from 1800 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Israelis can cause a war in a difficult situation. Just ramp up the nuclear rhetoric. Then the rest of us can throw away the peacetime ROE and get stuck in properly.

Anixtu
Anixtu
June 9, 2012 8:35 pm

James,

“Is the west self-sufficient on oil?”

Most of the world is not self-sufficient in oil. Everyone has an interest in keeping oil flowing through the Straits. Not that it matters to a global market, but most of the oil exported from the Middle East goes further east, not west.

For Iran to take action against shipping in the Straits of Hormuz is immediate regime suicide. At least until they get nukes, then it gets more interesting.

tsz52
tsz52
June 9, 2012 8:38 pm

Wasn’t there an exercise a while ago where some fiendish Red kept sinking the Blue carrier, and kept being over-ruled and disqualified every time he did so: “Nope, the enemy wouldn’t do something so not cricket – try again… nope, they wouldn’t do that either… nope… look, you’re ruining this exercise!”

Must admit that my two frigates with 127mm Vulcanos being a complete pain in the arse was from a not too nice and fluffy ROE point of view, like: “Over the course of the day, we will hit all of your major railway stations, at random, with a random number of shells, a random number of times. We really don’t want to hurt anybody, so we suggest that none of you use your railways today.” Next day you add something else to the declared target set, and so on, with your big magazines. Not really after doing much damage, and hitting large targets that you can’t really miss from OTH, but with a lot of economic/enemy morale damage.

Kind of a given that you’ll have taken out the other guy’s SSK’s and airforce etc first, and have established a watercraft exclusion zone. And that it’ll be more useful against soft and pampered types with developed and fragile (‘efficient’) infrastructures.

A country might be able to weather the storm of a handfull of available TLAMs, but the above would be really annoying, since it’s cheap and relentless.

I don’t particularly have anything against railway stations, by the way [except for f**king Manchester Victoria… grrr…], but I tend to use Leeds railway station a fair amount, but not much else in Leeds; so Leeds = connecting train to me.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 8:46 pm

Tsz 52 It was a US exercise, mostly computer simulated and US based but massive. Simulated an invasion of a Gulf like state! Red Commander used motor bike messengers and flags on mosques etc to set up a coordinated attack using suicide aircraft and small boats that wiped out most of Blue Force. Exercise was reset. Blue Force had some valid complaints, was not allowed to set up an air and surface exclusion zone and had to disable SPY radar within certain range of merchies, it can cause a TLF. Blue did however move his forces inside a “choke point” and limit his “sea room”. Valuable lessons learned all round.

James
James
June 9, 2012 8:53 pm

Tsz52,

unfortunately the ruddy lawyers have got in the way. Post WW2, threatening that sort of action against civvies is going to get you a war crimes rap.

TD,

I’m fairly sure that Iran has got the stock of the refined products, not just the wells and ability to pump. I saw a presentation by FCO supported by Min Ag ‘N Fish that in their river deltas, they have sufficient agricultural capacity to keep going on a surprisingly healthy diet for more than a year. Problem for us, it’s a big old country, and the population not enormous. Not for no reason they were the cradle of civilisation, where agriculture was invented and the Golden Crescent, etc. What used to be good was that it was all in the west, alongside Iraq. But then we left Iraq, and the Shias in eastern Iraq got friendly with Iran. Oh bugger.

Observer
Observer
June 9, 2012 8:56 pm

Hmm… if I were to be asked to mess up a frigate from a coastline, my 1st response would be to reach for my 155mm/MLRS and see if I can get some TOT fire with airburst rounds. Doesn’t have to kill it 1st, just seriously scratch the superstructure, more specifically, the radar. If any guns/exposed Harpoon tubes/personnel get damaged, it’s a bonus.

Once it’s blind, own time, own target, carry on with PBs and ATGMs, even if you have to fire them from shore.

Yes it may take 2 regiments, but artillery is more common than frigates, and it’s hardly one use.

So, no. No solo lone ranger frigate going in for a gun run. You want to do this, you use carrier air to “sanitize” 80km in of most artillery 1st, then sail the floaty little box in.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 9:00 pm

James, Iran is in the weird position of being a massive exporter of crude oil but still imports 30% of its required refined products due to a lack of refining capacity.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 9:08 pm

Observer, Agreed a Frigate would lose a slug fest every time. Where it is useful would be its ability to simply follow a shipping lane 30Nm offshore transmitting only on I band Nav radar, receive the satellite GPS locations for fixed batteries then simply program the command system to put 5 or 10 rounds on top of each fire and simply reverse coure in the aftermath to be a blip in the opposite lane surrounded by merchant vessels. Of course one of the targets would be anything monitoring shipping and observing the course reversal.
That is how I would play it.

James
James
June 9, 2012 9:10 pm

APATS, no doubt, but if they’ve had the foresight to stock up on what they can’t produce themselves….? As I believe they have.

Oddly, thinking in strategic terms, Iran’s CofG is in keeping western gloves ON. We are pussies with ROE. There’s a huge amount of flex the Iranians can exploit while our gloves are on, but only 2 weeks until we force regime change when we take our gloves off. Slightly sub CofG, there’s their relations with other nations who like their oil, and with borders to all sorts of (from a western perspective) dodgy neighbours who will quite happily look the other way, we westerners don’t really rule the roost apart from at sea.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 9:17 pm

James, I guess only man at Mossad, CIA and MI6 have any real answers to the stockpile questions. Agree ref COG, as long as they play by their rules and we by ours we are at a serious disadvantage, if we played by their rules with our kit then they are on a hiding to nothing.

James
James
June 9, 2012 9:23 pm

APATS,

hence my thinking on the strategic role of Israel. “Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war”. Israel turns a difficult ROE-embuggered situation into a war winning one with a single, US-enabled air raid. I really would not be surprised to learn that any Israeli raid was in fact much easier than Osiraq, because this time there’d be all sorts of US aircraft lining up to give them sips of fuel and C2 and ISR en route. And flying over Saudi, Iraqi or Turkish deserts, all mostly US airspace controlled, who’d be there to tell the tale?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 9:25 pm

In 2009 the Israelis practiced an AAR mission out into the Med using F15K, F16s and AAR assets to the exact range of some of the Iranian facilities.

tsz52
tsz52
June 9, 2012 9:51 pm

APATS: Cheers for the info on that exercise – much appreciated.:)

James: Re lawyers and ROE, for sure. However, there will be some countries who will be able to be in a position to do such things before much longer, and will cheerfully do so, so it’s worth thinking about.

And, I have very little faith in the better side of human nature, and almost none in what passes for ‘lefties’ these days – when the chips are down (ie the ‘lefties’ themselves – rather than just some other poor shmucks – are directly and personally affected, as they will be one day), then they’ll be spitting bile and venom, and crying out for blood and vengeance, with the best of ’em. Like most things driven by ‘the left’, these (completely hypocritical) current ROE of our bizarre era are just the passing fad of the day. Only take a couple of Guardian articles to turn their entire ‘thinking’ round.

[Spot the bitter, reformed lefty….] ;)

Observer
Observer
June 9, 2012 10:05 pm

Fly there? PFFTT, you guys are so old fashioned.

Open secret, Israel has already gone gloves off with Iran’s nuclear program.

Cyberwar. From the comforts of an air conditioned room.

Of course, there were a few magnetically fixed “surprise packages” to the cars of key nuclear research personnel too. Less risk, lots of deniability.

x
x
June 9, 2012 10:10 pm

@ tsz250

James
James
June 9, 2012 10:11 pm

Ah but Observer you are looking at the magician’s obvious hand, being the public wailing and deliberately not very subtle attacks on the nuclear programme.

What Israel does not have is the capacity to achieve is regime change. Their role is to cause the war, not to end it.

tsz52
tsz52
June 9, 2012 10:13 pm

TD: I don’t know what daft things your Twitter folks were Twittering, but maybe I’m just being dense in not seeing the problem… all of the MoD docs I’ve looked through consistently go back to this [and I’m sure that you’re a lot more familiar with them than I am]:-

“The DCDC defines the littoral as those land areas [and their adjacent sea and associated air space] that are predominantly susceptible to engagement and influence from the sea. This may typically be thought of as being those areas within 100 km of the coast. It is likely that up to 60% of humans will live on or near coastal regions by 2040. DCDC Global Strategic Trends, Edition 3.”

The Black Swan II doc then cites this definition and extends it a bit:-

“a. Littoral Complexity. By 2020, over 80% of the world’s
population will live within 100 miles of the sea. At present 147 (over
75%) of member states of the UN, are coastal states. Most of these
states have extended their jurisdiction out to sea, in many cases as far
as 200 nautical miles or more. Most human maritime activity –
shipping, fishing, hydrocarbon exploration etc – is currently conducted
within a 300-mile zone. This means that a substantial proportion of
the world’s economic and political activity is being conducted in a
narrow strip of land and sea (the littoral) on average no wider than 300
miles. Not only will the littoral be threatened by the consequences of
climate change, it will also face the effects of extreme weather and
other natural events, all of which will have a negative impact on these
heavily populated littoral regions.”

This includes Doctrine docs that are Joint and general (not just concerned with the boys playing with their toy boats in the bath), so shouldn’t that definition’s authority be enough for anybody interested in UK Defence?

I’m not one for slavishly bowing down to authority or anything, but that seems a perfectly reasonable definition to me… what am I missing? I mean on a core definition level, rather than whatever strange arguments people might develop from this definition (‘Bring back Battleships!’ or whatever), which are separate?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 10:36 pm

TD Please the area between high and low tide is known as the inter tidal zone. The littoral zone may include the inter tidal zone but often expands far further.
It does not alter the fact that the USN has been able to influence the “Expanded Littoral” area for the last 30 years and that whilst a sufficiently powerful naval force can project power be that organic assets, missiles, troops, air etc within that area which non maritime capability cannot absolutely guarantee.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 9, 2012 10:47 pm

The problem I have with the massively expanded definition of Littoral is that by that technical definition a tank coloumn zooming up a highway 75 miles paralell from the coast is “delivering warfighting effects in the littoral zone”. All of a sudden every battle zone in the world, of almost all kinds, has become littoral. The Libyan rebels, in their push to Tripoli, were technically “fighting in the littoral” per the Twitter definition given above.

This is one of the prime reasons I support the term ‘Coastal’ or ‘Coastal capable’, because it neatly and more explicitly defines the intended purpose of ships that are designed to operate within sight or near sight of the shoreline without confusing the issue by bringing the capability of weapons range into it.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2012 11:10 pm

Well I think Royal Marines should be renamed “Littoral Warfighters”! However I am not going to tell them just write an anonymous point paper and forward to MOD good ideas club.
On a serious note I do not see what is wrong with the term coastal. I am sure that when I did Geography eons ago there was a book that split up the US all the way across into traditional zones starting with the intertidal zone on one coast and ending with the same zone on the other.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 10, 2012 12:01 am

@ APATS

“Well I think Royal Marines should be renamed “Littoral Warfighters””
— I’m going to hold you personally responsible if this happens.

“On a serious note I do not see what is wrong with the term coastal”
— That’s the spirit.

tsz52
tsz52
June 10, 2012 12:36 am

Honestly, I’m not being a nobhead and would fully support other, more precise, terms being used but I’m not seeing how the definition being changed (if it was) is all to some nefarious pro-naval-power purpose.

It’s not some Twitter’s definition, but the DCDC/MoD definition, used in plenty of Joint documents. It’s also the Joint Doctrine DOD definition [from ‘Joint Operations’]:-

“(3) Littoral Areas. The littoral area contains two parts. First is the seaward area from the open ocean to the shore, which must be controlled to support operations ashore. Second is the landward area inland from the shore that can be supported and defended directly from the sea. Control of the littoral area often is essential to maritime superiority. Maritime operations conducted in the littoral area can project power, fires, and forces to support achieving the JFC’s objectives; and facilitate the entry of other elements of the joint force through the seizure of an adversary’s port, naval base, or air
base to allow entry and movement of other elements of the joint force. Depending on the situation, mine warfare may be critical to control of the littoral areas.”

Do the other branches of the UK and US Forces not agree with these definitions published in the Joint docs? Are the MoD and DOD secretly massively biased towards the Navy, and warping definitions to devious pro-floaty stuff purpose?

Does the history and timing of the word’s definition’s evolution matter? I’m looking into it for laffs, but I don’t think it really matters – we are where we are, and all that. But that definition will become increasingly apt when some of the newer kit all starts to come together and be deployed and integrated properly (eg it will apply to solidly and persistently supporting future rebels, pretty far in-land, as they push to their Tripolis, from everything frigate upwards).

So you can’t really argue with the definitions’ authority, but I’d agree that it should be sub-divided a bit more, and be qualified by stressing some kind of high persistence when including naval forces in the mix: You can hit even deeper with your handfull of TLAMs (add another 1000km to the definition), and a SLBM can hit anything – Woo! Everything’s in the littoral! Go Navy! :P

IXION
June 10, 2012 12:44 am

TD

I sense your frustration over ‘littoral’!

But is this not a huge self opening can of worms?

You earlier commented on how ‘strategy’ in the UK sense had come to mean overseas power projection.

The ‘Strategic raiding crowd’ with whom I believe you disagree, but whom I put myself alongside, see it in those terms; but does not your own ‘influence squadrons’ in part at least adopt the idea of power projection?

Land warfare wise: –

The very definition of projection, means it is comming from somwhere, (being project from point a to point b). In this case (and given the impossibility of moving heavy equipment by air): If we or anyone else wants to go anywhere ‘tooled up’ with even medium armour then it means going by sea.

So if we go by sea and we do not want to rely on an available friendly port. we have to be ready to use and old phrase for this, indulge in ‘forcable entry’.

Given the reach of modern weapons TLAM, Elephant based air power,or even the range of a 155 mm gun landed over a beach, once you get involved with land and air forces does it stop being littoral?

Is littoral the reach of the weapons on frigate? In which case if it has TLAM is that 1000 KM?

BTW IMHO you are absolutely right about armour it is quite silly how many of our ‘professional soldiers sailors and to a lesser extent airmen’ (or at least those who buy our ships and vehicles) seem to opperate under the delusion tha the enemy will not be shooting back. Or of he does so it will be on clearly defined terms. Do not the japanese coast guard have armoured patrol boats?

In short war is war, and I cannot see a situation arising in a fight starting and then a British force commander saying ‘sorry chaps our littoral concept says we can only shoot 10 miles inland, the enemy has retreated to 11 miles so we have to stop now cos it;s not littoral anymore’

I think, the modern fashon for the word littoral started with the USN’ realisation that short of it’s carrier air groups; much of it’s navy was great for sailing arround the pacific crushing other enemy fleets but not much use in tidal waters; chasing ‘ yahoos in speed boats’ or going after sneekily laid mines.

Or was at least, stupidly over spec, and even vulnerable if it tried it.

So it tried to creat a ship and an opperational concept callled littoral. The ship is joke and their concept of it worse, but the idea that the need to get up close and personnal with an unfriendly cost line is not….

James re the red commander thing.

I explained once toa medium racking police officer my plan by which s dozen or so commited, but crucially unarmed men, who would not have to engage in attention seeking chemical buying stunts, etc; could create chaos and disrupt the UK for days, in effect bring the country to a stop. Either as an end in itself, or to totaly tie up the uk’s security forces whilst their mates did something more bloodthursty and spectacular.

Their response after few minutes thought. was a heartfelt,

‘ Bloody hell don’t go spreading that about’!…

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 10, 2012 2:17 am

The problem is that the definition has gradually been expanded over time. What was once a term that was used to accurately describe a fairly narrow band of surface vessels has since grown out of control, erasing the principle meaning and becoming far too vague and all encompassing. It’s now gotten to the point where you might as well not use the word Littoral at all, because practically everything military that floats now fits the term ‘Littoral’.

This is why I personally hate it so much, because it’s become just another bastardised piece of catch all management speak, as opposed to what it was originally intended for, which even then I feel could be better summed up with the use of the word Coastal.

And the word is associated with Navies predominantly because they’re the only ones that would use it. The air forces and ground forces I suspect have little interest in Littoral Combat Ships, unless it’s how to launch from them or blow them up.

El Sid
El Sid
June 10, 2012 3:08 am

The traditional definition of littoral has been the area between high and low tide, or at least the immediate area beyond.

With respect TD, you’re making yourself look a bit foolish with misplaced pedantry. The “littoral”, as a noun, has always meant “the region lying along the shore” – my Shorter OED gives an example of “The towns along the Mediterranean littoral” from 1828. You’re thinking of a specialist, technical term from zoology, the “littoral zone” which does indeed refer to the intertidal zone but is not a general coinage. To give an example, the intertidal meaning of the adjective is in my Shorter OED but not in my Pocket Oxford.

In any case, the military are quite entitled to come up with their own specialist meanings or jargon, just like physicists use “impulse” or “momentum” to mean something a bit different to the meaning in common use.

And those bits of jargon can change to reflect military reality – just look at how a destroyer now means a 16,000-ton NGF platform or a 10,000-ton air-defence ship, very different to past incarnations. Perhaps a better example is the wet side of the coast, “green water”. Noone expects green water to be literally green, as per a dictionary definition of green. But back in the Cold War it was militarily useful to talk about that area 200-300nm from land that could be reached by tactical land-based air. Then it was sort of made obsolete by the USSR’s development of bombers with long-range ASMs, the whole ocean turned “green”. It now seems to be making a bit of a comeback in a new guise, that bit of the sea where it’s too dangerous to send capital ships (qv James’ points above) – hence the USN developing specialist stealth units like the Ohio SSGNs and the Zumwalts.

So the littoral means the region lying along the shore. Yes 100km is an arbitrary figure, but it’s militarily relevant – a lot of navies have weapons with a range of 100km plus a bit of sea room. Think C-802, SS-N-25, NSM, SOM, Harpoon, LRLAP, Vulcano in the 127/64LW – and it’s within range of helicopters, Marine raiding parties etc. Yes, weapons like Tomahawk and Sampson make that kind of distinction irrelevant as the Badger/Backfire made greenwater irrelevant, but they are high-end weapons, a C-802 is within the capabilities of the likes of Hezbollah. I know some of those are anti-ship missiles, but the original SLAM showed it’s relatively easy to convert such weapons to hit land targets – and there’s all sorts of corvettes and FACs that can carry Harpoon or similar, and could potentially carry a SLAM-type weapon. If these days Leeds can be hit by mid-range navies like Thailand and Turkey, then I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to consider Leeds part of the zone that is subject to action from the sea.

Observer
Observer
June 10, 2012 3:26 am

El, TD isn’t annoyed at the definition, he’s annoyed at it changing to suit an agenda. You are correct in saying that definitions shift with time, and that understanding needs to shift too, but in the case of “litoral”, the agenda is specifically from the USN and their need to justify the LCS program along with it’s overoptimistic “studies”.

Do you seriously think Northrope’s study of “7 LCS can replace 20 ships in antipiracy” is realistic? I have my doubts.

In all honesty, I’ve not heard of the word “litoral” for the last 20+ years, now it’s all the “fad”.

Damn double speak and politically correctness. And damn salesmen playing with the English language.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 10, 2012 4:28 am

@ Observer,

“In all honesty, I’ve not heard of the word “litoral” for the last 20+ years, now it’s all the “fad”.”
— Precisely. It’s just become a buzzword, its orginal meaning and context shattered for the conveniance of a sales pitch.

@ El Sid,
“With respect TD, you’re making yourself look a bit foolish with misplaced pedantry”
— Not really. As Observer said, the point is that the term is being expended far beyond it’s original meaning. In addition, TD’s rough explanation of the term is technically accurate.

tsz52
tsz52
June 10, 2012 4:38 am

See, I think the definition has just naturally expanded in line with new technologies. If you think of it as coastal and everything directly tied to the coast (economically and militarily), then with crap comms (flags) and short ranged broadsides it was pretty much a narrow coastal strip for a long time.

Now we have fishing boats going out further and oil/gas drilling platforms tied to shuttle runs to the shore (out to ~200 miles) going sea-ward, and superior comms/intell/targetting etc land-ward, with longer ranged weapons to make use of that, and helos and whatnot, pushing that distance out too.

So I’m happy with that definition given in the Black Swan II doc [though not too happy with the Black Swan II], since it reflects our current reality. If anyone would prefer different terms than ‘littoral’ to mean ‘the coast and everything directly tied to/influenced by it’ then let’s hear ’em. I think it’s useful as a focusing device to remind folks of the economic importance of dominating that ~300 mile strip, yours and the enemy’s; and if the best way to do that is with tanks, artillery, blimps and flying boats (and none of them silly ships) then so be it.

I’m tracing official uses of the word back in time, to check out whether there really is some agenda driving the change (expansion) in definition, but not really seeing one, and the LCS programme seems to have had very little to do with it (it came later)… needs more digging.

On the other hand, the directed subversion of meaning is the bane of the age, and there are plenty of management/marketing/media words that give me the red mists [can’t even watch a TV or read a paper any more], so I’ll try to remember to not use the word when conversing with TD and Chris.B.

On the other other hand, cheers x for that link – made me chuckle.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 10, 2012 4:55 am

Things is, oil rigs and gas platforms tend to be considered ‘out to sea’ (or even offshore. Or even offlittoral). They can just as easily be served by helicopters 30 miles inland as ones based directly on the coast. I just don’t think it helps to use Littoral to describe things that are covered more accurately by other terms. All it does is to serve to confuse issues that should be straight forward for the sake of a cool sounding piece of terminology. Once you start broadening the term too much it loses much of its significance and becomes just another generalisation that is used to sweep aside difficult questions about just where a piece of kit is supposed to fit in, and what its role is.

tsz52
tsz52
June 10, 2012 6:46 am

“They [the offshore platforms] can just as easily be served by helicopters 30 miles inland as ones based directly on the coast.” Yup, which is why the definition is correct to expand both inland and out further to sea. You can hit that servicing helo 30 miles inland on the tarmac (without injuring anyone) in numerous ways now, and you directly, adversely affect a platform ~200 miles further out to sea. The expanded (I’d say evolved) definition encompasses that tight inter-connectedness of the things in that broad region (that has the coast roughly in the middle).

Economically, and therefore militarily, the term had to expand to include the increased sea territory a country was legally allowed, from gunshot distance to the comparatively recent Territorial Waters, then even more recent EEZ laws. The enemy’s littoral is now all of this, plus the range of your ‘guns’ inland as it always was:-

“112. In the physical sense, the maritime environment comprises the High Seas and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) (through which warships enjoy high seas freedoms and from which their aircraft enjoy rights of overflight), and territorial seas in which warships may exercise innocent passage, which does not include the right of overflight. The littoral, a vast, highly complex, and immensely diverse area, comprises EEZs, territorial seas, and land territory. The sea covers approximately 70% of the earth’s surface, nearly 80% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of it (and this figure increases each year) and over three quarters of member states of the UN are coastal states. All coastal states have extended their jurisdiction through national maritime zones, in many cases including EEZs to as far as 200 nautical miles. Most human maritime activity – shipping, fishing, oil exploration, etc – is currently conducted within those 200-mile EEZs, to which warships and submarines have unrestricted access and presence to conduct exercises and routine operations. This means that a substantial proportion of the world’s economic and political activity is being conducted in a narrow strip of land and sea on average no wider than 300 miles. This narrow band, referred to as the littoral and is defined as those land areas (and their adjacent sea and associated air space) that are predominantly susceptible to engagement and influence from the sea.”

So that’s another MoD (military) definition and explanation, we’ve had TD’s useful technical oceanographical/zoological one, and a dictionary one; is there a legal one, since that might be important? I’ll have a look later.

Anyroad, honestly Chris, I know I’ll never convince you or TD on this; but I think it’s handy to have a single word that encompasses all of the above (and the complementary DOD definition further above), it seems to have evolved naturally to me and doesn’t obscure or over-simplify anything [and I don’t think it sounds cool either].

Like I say, I’ll try to avoid using the word when conversing with yourself, but to help me out, would you mind listing the more accurate terms that you’d prefer in breaking the above lot down into its major bits?

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 10, 2012 7:10 am

Coastal = on or around the coast, stretching a few miles inland and a few miles out to see.

Anything further inland than that is inland. Anything further out to sea is perhaps Maritime, sea going etc.

The way I see it, a “Littoral vessel” is a definition of where the ship operates or can operate unlike other vessels, to separate it from vessels that are intended for more high seas operations. By encompassing such a large area I just think it only serves to tread over areas that are beyond the competence of the word to describe.

To go back to an example I used earlier, lets say a tank rolls by that helicopter base that is serving the oil platform and knobbles all the helicopters. Does that mean the tank is engaging in land warfare or littoral warfare?

By opening such a broad scope to the word, we’re creating loop holes that can be used to dupe unwary politicians for a start. I just think it’s an unnecessary piece of vocabulary to introduce. It has such a narrow realistic usage, and has basically just become a throwaway, catch all term. It seems everything these days is Littoral.

It’s become another pointless buzzword.

Observer
Observer
June 10, 2012 7:23 am

I’d give “Litoral” as the 12 km territorial zone all countries are limited to. 200 miles is the EEZ, not litoral.

Coastal would be 12km + 40 (conventional cannon range 30-40, no rocket shells).

Observer
Observer
June 10, 2012 7:25 am

A tank rolls into the surf and becomes a “coastal patrol craft” :P

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 10, 2012 7:44 am

“A tank rolls into the surf and becomes a “coastal patrol craft””
— Now that I would like to see. The army presenting to parliament it’s plans for a new dual role combat vehicle that transitions from main battle tank to littoral combat ship, and all for just £2m.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
June 10, 2012 9:17 am

“Coastal = on or around the coast, stretching a few miles inland and a few miles out to see. Anything further inland than that is inland. Anything further out to sea is perhaps Maritime, sea going etc.”

That doesn’t sound like a precise, or useful term for military application……

Same problem with observers, re 12nm, why create another word to say eez?

Phil
June 10, 2012 9:40 am

Nobody ever wins a definitional debate. Ever.

Just sayin’

x
x
June 10, 2012 10:42 am

I like the term seaside. :)

Observer
Observer
June 10, 2012 12:40 pm

Someone here mentioned that if weapons reach from sea is the deciding factor, then with ballistic missile subs, it would mean the whole world is litoral.

Come to think of it, then the stratosphere is litoral too!

Litoral Combat Typhoon anyone? Litoral Combat Challenger? Litoral Combat Warrior?

x
x
June 10, 2012 1:22 pm

@ TD

In IR the oceans are classed as global commons . 12nm out our sovereignty ends. After that it really is no man’s land. All that range of cannon stuff rhubarb defining sea borders. Of course these days cannon reach a lot further. And missiles further still. Of course if modern weaponry can reach out over the shore to the sea the same class of weapon reach out from the sea over the shore to the land.

Using a global commons mean no problems with borders or air space. Post WW2 even with the supremacy of the US Western allied states still at times chose for their political ends chose to exercise their sovereign rights to exclude the US from using their territory. The international state system is anarchic, all are equal, and to trespass against your neighbour sets precedents that legitimise the possible actions of others. The seas are vast and offer a freedom of action to states beyond that when operating on land.

Now in 20 years time I don’t think China will have an army sitting across the Channel. I don’t think SLEP Typhoons will be chasing Chinese aircraft out of UK air space. Could they have an SSN or SSGN cruising about the North Atlantic? May be. Out of three it is the most plausible. “Legally” (international law, got to laugh…) the Chinese could have a destroyer nearly circumnavigating the UK 365 days a year if they so choose. Of course what protects us if our irrelevance more than our supposed top ten military might. It is strategic reach. The demonstration of reach can be quite a shock, google John Paul Jones.

Armies don’t have strategic reach; especially armies from island nations. HMG can send a frigate to those Islands now, it can’t send a battalion. We can send a frigate to shell the bases of Somali pirates; we can’t send a battalion on its own to raid those base it will need the support of others to achieve that end. In an era of military tokenism and a growing to aversion casualties (especially in those adventures will ill defined goals) shelling or bombing may not be only the preferred option but the only option.

No campaign in modern terms has been purely a land or maritime affair. What dictates which group a campaign belongs to depends on which element the majority of fighting was done and just as important the element through which the the majority supporting logistical effort is made. James is right that without the Marines and those Army bods the FI War wouldn’t have been to a rapid conclusion. Man lives on the land. But without the ships, the carriers, the escorts, merchant men, repair ship, and oilers the Marines and the Army friends wouldn’t have got there. I think some here do understand that a ship can be fought just by moving and being there and that naval warfare is a lot more subtle than shoving 9inches of steel into the belly of the enemy. (Though I think the modern RN seemed to have taken that subtly perhaps a tad too far……)

x
x
June 10, 2012 1:29 pm

@ Observer re Littoral Planet

Well 2/3 of the Earth(?) is covered in sea water.

Humans are 75% water.

Inconvenient truth time…… :)

Alex
Alex
June 10, 2012 2:57 pm

x has already made this point, but Leeds is a river port and one of the reasons so much of the Industrial Revolution happened in Yorkshire was that it wasn’t that far from navigable water in one direction or the spate/flood/whooshy sort in the other that provided power before the steam engine.

You can get a vessel of several hundred tonnes up to the Motorway City of the 70s and IIRC one of the oil companies regularly did or does move products that way.

Observer
Observer
June 10, 2012 3:08 pm

@X

I’m a littoral area? I declare myself closed to foreign shipping.

“Armies don’t have strategic reach; especially armies from island nations”

Hmm… wonder how the allies reached Berlin. Their armies don’t have strategic reach, so they couldn’t have marched there. I also wonder why most of the Reich’s units ended up on the Eastern Front, can’t possibly be because of the Red Army, no strategic reach. Or why NATO ended up stationing units in Germany during the 1970s, there was nothing that was possibly a threat.

x