Naval Expeditionary Combat Command

Realignment puts Navy’s land forces under one command

With heavy combat in the Middle East taxing the Army and Marines, the Navy wants to put more boots and force into the fight. The Navy estimates it has 7,000 sailors on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq. Sailors guard ports and oil platforms, build roads and buildings and run customs operations, among other duties.

The Navy also will re-establish a riverine combat force to close a gap in providing force and protection along rivers in hostile countries. The “brown water Navy” has not been widespread since swift boats fought in Vietnam, although Navy SEALs perform specialized river operations.

Bullard expects a force of more than 700 sailors to fill three units of river combat forces, with the first unit to become operational in 2007.

He said the riverine force could be used around the globe, particularly in Niger and Colombia. A home port or ports for the new force has not been decided.

The forces also could be used to secure ports after the facilities have been seized by Marines or SEALs. Bullard insisted the force would be used to supplement but not supplant the work of the infantry.

Everyone’s reorganizing to maximize the number of combat boots on the ground. Naval troops performing more security and routine land operations will free up Marines for more-pressing duties.

The force is stretched, for sure. But it’s difficult to tell if this move is an attempt to relieve pressure on an over-worked military or simply an adjustment made to be better-prepared for the battles of the future.


  1. Naval infantry used to me more common. I know when we invaded Mexico and took Veracruz about a hundred years ago, it was Marines backed by armed sailors.

  2. I think its a timely program, since the marines are more and more becoming a separate mission. And stretched. Many nations use naval infantry, and it would be a specialized force for missions stated above… like guarding ports, oil rigs, riverine patrols etc… Just like the marines have thier own air wing for support (no one protects marines better than other marines)…this is why the Navy should use its own force of infantry to protect its assets.

  3. It is a realization from the Navy that they are essentially useless in the GWOT with the extremely notable exception of the Naval Special Warfare community (SEALS & Special Boat Teams). The SpecWar community currently has carte blanche with respect to finances and personnel with the CNO which is a radical departure from the past ‘red headed stepchild’ days. The Naval Infantry is a way for the Navy to re assert itself into the conflict in some meaningful way.

  4. Hey Froggy, your’s is one of the most wrong headed posts I’ve seen on any site regarding the navy. Ever heard of maritime security ops? Ever Done VBSS in the gulf region? ever heard of sea lanes? or Bin Laden’s wish to gain an al queda navy of his own? How about port security? Jeez!! Some people really need to keep their ignorance to themselves- civilian froggy- bad froggy!!