The use of patrol craft in low intensity conflict operations: an alternative model for the employment of the Cyclone-class (PC-1)
Polidoro, Michael A.
Hughes, Wayne P., Jr.
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The post-Cold War era has posed a significant challenge to the U.S. Navy. The absence of a major, blue-water, naval threat has allowed the Navy to shift its focus toward the littoral arena and to develop strategies and tactics for operations close to shore. While it is hard to dispute the need for the combat power of a carrier battle group in wartime its firepower is less necessary or applicable in low intensity conflict (LIC) operations. Patrol craft, particularly the Cyclone-class (PC-1), are ideally suited for LIC. These 'niche' craft offer a valuable contribution to the close-in, coastal patrol and interdiction mission and to naval special warfare support. Unfortunately for the PCs, the institutional bias of the U.S. Navy favors multi- mission capable 'big ships' and small craft programs are often deemed non-competitive and are ignored. The thesis examines this problem through the lens of bureaucratic politics theory and uses it to compare the similarity of arguments for and against the PHM and PC programs. In an attempt to create an alternative model for PC employment, based on the mother ship/scout-fighter concept, the thesis also investigates how foreign coastal navies employ their patrol craft. The study concludes with a recommendation to more heavily involve the PCs in LIC and contingency operations and make them part of the Navy's forward presence mission.
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