In order to deal with such threats, which became even more threatening after 9/11, law enforcement organizations draw a clear distinction between “outlaws” engaged in illegal fishing, smuggling and illegal immigration, “and “security threats”, which usually include insertion and support of land based activities of guerillas and terrorists, insertion and extraction of intelligence agents and special forces, as well as offensive activities (mining and sabotage of ports and waterways, and attacks on marine and naval units). The distinction is important not only for mission classification, but also to employ different rules of engagement, which dictate different mission profiles, and may require specific characteristics and equipment of the patrol boats, coastal support elements etc. Furthermore, smugglers usually use small, commercial speedboats for the trafficking illegal goods, drugs or passengers. They rarely use firearms when intercepted, and try to outrun the interceptors in the open sea or in rugged coastal area, where heavier patrol boats cannot maneuver freely. These targets can be easily overcome by patrol boats, if they are caught, but since smugglers have access to faster and lighter boats, such interception must be carried out by several boats, that can block the target’s evasion routs. Firearms are rarely used in such incidents.
Super Dvora Mk III Fast Patrol Boat
In contrast, terrorists try to disguise their moves as innocent traffic, either fishing, sports or merchant shipping. They pose a serious threat to civilians, as well as strategic targets at sea or near the coastline. They may also target the military assets such as naval vessels or the patrol crafts themselves. These targets should be identified, based on intelligence and other characteristics, as early as possible. In order to prevent terrorists from carrying out operations from the sea, they must be hunted down at long distance from any potential target, including patrol crafts themselves. As the case with every hunting activity, it is important to bring all the advantages to the side of the interceptor – long range detection and identification, at all visibility conditions, situation assessment (is the target armed? How many are on board?).
Coastal security and counter-terrorist operations differ from conventional coast guard activities, especially in the use-of-force dimension. However, since such activities are performed in a routine and peaceful environment, security forces must be able to employ effective but very precise firepower, in order to avoid casualties and collateral damage. The use of advanced sensors, stabilized weapons, and non-lethal means provide more flexibility levels for security forces, to handle potential targets in most operational conditions.
Additional Parts of this article :