Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Navy Strategy Deficient, Israeli Admiral Believes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Navy Strategy Deficient, Israeli Admiral Believes

Article excerpt

An Israeli admiral with experience in fighting close to shore says the U.S. Navy may be courting disaster as it moves closer to the beach.

The Israeli is Rear Adm. Yedidia Ya'ari, who commands his navy's base in Haifa. He sets out his views in the spring issue of the Naval War College Review, the journal of the U.S. Navy's most prestigious school for officers.

For roughly a century, that school prepared American officers to fight a "blue-water war" - naval battles on the high seas against an enemy with a big navy.

Those lessons paid off against Japan in World War II. After that war, the Navy trained itself to fight another blue-water war against another big-navy enemy, the Soviet Union.

Then the Soviet Union sank, taking down with it any likelihood of another blue-water war.

The Navy cast about for a new strategy. In a doctrinal paper published in 1992, the Navy said it would no longer prepare to fight on the sea, but rather from the sea, along the world's coasts.

The Navy notes that three of every four humans live within 100 miles of those coasts, or littorals. The admirals call this new strategy of fighting "littoral warfare."

Under its littoral strategy, the Navy is gearing to project American power inland from those coasts.

Trouble is, Israel's Ya'ari writes, the Navy seems to be holding the wrong cards in a game it probably can't win.

***** `Ships Don't Fight Forts'

Back in the days of wooden warships, Britain's Royal Navy had an ironclad rule: "Ships don't fight forts."

The reason: The forts had most of the advantages - bigger guns, more shells, stouter walls and so on.

Ya'ari writes that today the deck remains stacked in favor of the enemy on shore. Among the high cards:

Passive electronic devices. They let the enemy ashore see the ships without the ships seeing the enemy.

Antiship missiles. They travel so fast that a close-in warship has almost no time to react.

A lot of "clutter" - civilian shipping and air traffic, typically dense in littoral areas.

A lack of room to pour on speed and maneuver out of harm's way.

Ya'ari grants that warships have tightened their defenses since 1967, when an Egyptian missile fired from shore sank an Israeli destroyer. …

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