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02 April 2020


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The Twisted Genius


The definition you found is the marine ecology definition. The military definition encompasses a larger area without scientifically specific borders. Along the coastline is about as specific as it gets. Think of seaports and coastal landmasses overlooking straits as part of the littoral. The battle of Narvik was a classic littoral operation. German mountain troops came ashore from 10 destroyers to seize the port. A series of naval battles in the fjords followed by allied amphibious landings and ensuing land battles. The battle of Derna, illustrated above, is another classic example. Willian Easton's assault on the coastal fortress of Derna was supported by three warships of the US Navy's Mediterranean squadron.


DoD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defines littoral as consisting of two segments of the “operational” environment: seaward (the area from the open ocean to the shore that must be controlled to support operations ashore) and landward (the area inland from the shore that can be sup-ported and defended directly from the sea)the US Naval Weapons Center.

An expansion of that term for the seaward segment can be found in the below article published by the Naval War College Review. Scroll down to the section titled 'Defining the Term'. It can extend to the entire continental shelf, which is typically anywhere from 200 to 500 nautical miles. Or be an extremely small area in enclosed seas or around archipelagos.


Upstate NY'er

How about assigning Marines to Navy base security once again?
It took a local Sheriff's SWAT to take down the shooter at the Pensacola NAS.

Upstate NY'er

"BTW, Kerry's little Swift boats were not part of the Riverine Force."
The Army had their own little "Navy" in VN?



In the Mekong Riverine Force the US Navy provided the transports, monitors and landing craft and the Army provided the afloat troops. The troops lived on the ships. This arrangement lasted for a couple of years. USMC was all way up north maybe 500 miles away.


So the definition of littoral is mission creep.
Where there was once the coast artillery there is now the mobile silkworm, the Russian Bastion P, and a lot of others.
That the Norse did not protect Narvik is to their shame.
@Leith: Thank you for the link.

Upstate NY'er

What is a Marine Expeditionary Force vs. a Marine Division?
What is an MEU vs. a regiment or battalion?

English Outsider

TTG - a great insight into how it was at that time. The politicians may duck and swerve and the High Commands worry about priorities and the big picture as they will, but those countless acts of assistance at operational level seen at that time cement a relationship like nothing else.

And there was a lot of it. The memoirs of those who flew those crazy but ultimately valuable missions from Ascension detail the similar open-handed generosity of the American forces based there. So elsewhere. The wave of petty-minded anti-Americanism sweeping across so much of Europe takes no account of such relationships built up between the people on the ground - the relationships that really matter and that endure whatever the politicians get up to.

Eagerly awaiting your next report. Last thing I heard was that Erdogan was busy replacing the local administrations in Eastern Turkey with appointees. Great time for those games. And could he be more overtly supporting the Jihadists in Idlib?


Mission creep? Maybe in a good sense, based on weapon technology advances being factored into missions. The littoral at Derna was no further out than the one half nautical mile gun range of Commodore Roger's 12-pounder long guns. Even WW2 era battleships could bombard strike enemy land defenses from over 15 nm offshore. Whereas today the littoral of today is over a thousand times that of Derna.

The Twisted Genius

Upstate NY'er,

There are three active and one reserve Marine divisions composed of infantry regiments and other battalions, all ground units. The Marines don't fight as divisions. They fight as Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTF). The biggest MAGTF is the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) consisting of a Marine division, a Marine air wing and a support group. The smallest MAGTF is the Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) built around an infantry battalion with supporting units.

I only know this stuff because my father's a jarhead. He enlisted in late 1944 when he was not quite 17. The recruiter told him they needed a lot of Marines for the invasion of Japan. Luckily the war ended before that happened. He got out before Korea kicked off. He wanted to stay but his future SWMBO wasn't having it. His younger brother and my mother's brother were both at Chosin.


Upstate -

Just an air/ground task force. MEU used to be an inf bn reinforced with an arty battery, LAV company, eng/tank/recon platoons, AmTracs, rotary wing transport & gunships, a Harrier jump jet detachment, beefed up comms, and a logistics combat support element.

I have no clue as to what their composition is now.

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