How are NECC forces supporting the combatant
commanders in the global war on terrorism?
BULLARD: We’re a force provider, and we’re doing that
in a big way around the world. We have Seabees, EOD
and security forces in Iraq and logistic, security, maritime
port security and other forces in Kuwait and elsewhere in
the [Persian] Gulf. We have theater security cooperation
working with Seabees, EOD and security forces with
Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa. We’re doing
maritime security, force protection and Seabee missions
in the Pacific, Europe, Africa and South America. We’re
all over the place, being persistent, forward and engaged,
providing those forces in the war on terrorism as well as
deterrent efforts for major combat operations.
Your first Riverine squadron deploys to Anbar
Province, Iraq, in the next few months. What is
BULLARD: They will be supporting the mission of [II
Marine Expeditionary Force] by providing maritime
security, maritime interdiction, area control and denial
on the river in that area of the operation. They’re needed for critical infrastructure protection in addition to
support of Marine ground combat elements. They will
be integrated into the Marine command-and-control
structure. We have two squadrons and are standing up
a third. Until the mission changes or is over, we will
support the Marines on a rotational basis.
What was the toughest task in creating a
Riverine capability within the Navy?
BULLARD: We had only had about eight months to put
the whole curriculum together, train them, certify
them and get them ready for deployment. That was
challenging, but the sailors did a wonderful job and we
got all the help we needed. The Marine Corps was lock
and step in supporting our training as was the Coast
Guard at Camp Lejeune.
for different Riverine environments and missions.
Maritime security patrols on large rivers for numerous
days at a time would require the ability to support a
crew onboard over some period of time.
It’s not just about combat ops and rivers; it’s also about
theater security cooperation, maritime interdiction and
security, and training other partners. We’ve been doing
an analysis on those nontraditional navies that want to
help with Riverine or maritime security. What type craft
do they have? Also, as I look to new boats, I want to
bring in new technology. How do we get integrated,
lightweight armor in the hulls? How do we optimize performance, firepower and sustainment at least cost?
What new technologies are you considering for
BULLARD: We’re providing C4I (command, control,
communications, computers and intelligence) upgrades
You are looking for the next vessel to replace
the Small-Unit Riverine Craft (SURC) you
inherited from the Marine Corps. What are your
BULLARD: The SURC is a good craft for the current
assignment [in Iraq], but there are many types of
waterways in the world. We’re doing the mission
analysis now of the spectrum of capabilities we need
D. KEVIN ELLIOTT