Friday, March 09, 2007

For first time since Vietnam, Navy swift boats deploy for Iraq

Marines assigned to dam security patrol down the Euphrates River. Navy squadrons will eventually replace the Marines. An advance party of 60 Navy riverines is already in Iraq. A group of 150 leaves Thursday, joined soon by a third phase.

NORFOLK, Va. -- A riverboat squadron departed Thursday for Iraq, the first deployment of Navy swift boats to a war zone since Vietnam.

About 100 members of the Riverine Squadron 1 will integrate with Marines patrolling the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, eventually replacing the Marine force. They will patrol those waters to combat terrorist operations.

"The missions, the formations, tactics, techniques and procedures are pretty much the same as they were 35 years ago," Cmdr. Bill Guarini said.

After Vietnam, internal waterways operations largely became a function of the Marines and of Naval special warfare units. One year ago, however, the Navy announced it was adding "brown water" warfare to its traditional "bluewater" role.

During Vietnam, the Navy patrolled the Mekong River delta with 500 swift boats.

Read the rest at the Daily Press