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Executive Summary The value of oceanographic information for planning and executing naval operations has been recognized by the Navy for decades. Consequently, the Office of Naval Research has been a leading funder of academic oceanographic research for many years. In an effort to improve the academic ocean science community's under- standing of the operational demands placed on units involved in Naval Special Warfare (NSW), the National Research Council's Ocean Studies Board (OSB), through the support of the Office of Naval Research and the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy, convened a symposium on oceanography and NSW in February 1997. NSW encompasses some of the most unique and arduous challenges facing naval personnel in combat situations. Real-time decision making is crucial, and the need for adequate and accurate environmental data on small scales is paramount for minimizing uncertainty and reducing risk. Mission success and human lives often depend on the availability of accurate environmental information. Consequently, the symposium (and this report) examined three components: (1) the mission and personnel assigned to NSW, (2) the present capability of the Navy' s oceanographic community to support NSW, and (3) the potential for research to expand that canabilitv. NAVY OCEANOGRAPHIC CAPABILITIES The U.S. Navy provides environmental support for NSW by means of an infrastructure that includes both the operational oceanography community and an underlying science and technology (S&T) base. The Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy (N096) oversees the day-to-day operational aspects, and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) manages the S&T program. Generally, the Oceanographer and his Command are responsible for understanding the effects of the natural environment on the planning and execution of naval operations and interpreting atmospheric and ocean phenom- ena for the fighting forces. Meeting the meteorological and oceanographic (METOC) needs of NSW are an increasingly important aspect of this mission as the focus of naval warfare continues to move toward the littoral zone, defined as the oceanographic region encompassing the continental shelf and slope and the adjacent deep water. The long-term success of the Navy's METOC community in satisfying the particular needs of NSW depends, to a large degree, on research and technology efforts coordinated by ONR. ONR's primary role in the Navy's METOC support infrastructure is to provide a technology base for the development and fielding of the next generation of METOC capabilities that support warfighters including NSW.
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2 OCEANOGRAPHY AND NAVAL SPECIAL WARFARE: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES As the Navy continues to adjust from the conditions of the Cold War to a "New World Order" in which the likelihood of smaller-scale naval operations nearshore increases, operational oceanography has had to confront a new set of challenges associated with understanding and predicting natural environments that change much more rapidly in time and space than the deep ocean settings of the past. This, in turn, is causing a sweeping reexamina- tion of traditional METOC approaches. The coastal regions and adjacent hinterlands are a particular focus for NSW. Consequently, improved characterization of the littoral zone should be especially useful in supporting new NSW needs. ROLE OF RESEARCH NSW-related research challenges are formidable. NSW operational needs create spatially and temporally difficult requirements for environmental models and observations. Models and observations that were success- fully used in support of anti-submarine warfare cannot be easily adapted to support NSW operations. The problem is one of both scale and environmental complexity. NSW operations require localized environmental information (at a resolution on the scale of hundreds of meters), in many different types of environments (shelf, inner shelf, nearshore, inlet, harbors, rivers). In addition, for mission planning purposes, estimates of environmental param- eters (e.g., surf conditions, water clarity, atmospheric visibility), or the time scales upon which they vary, need to be available five to seven days in advance. The Navy has acknowledged that new, creative approaches to collecting, assilimating, and providing environ- mental information should be considered if NSW is to be adequately supported. The complexity of the environ- ment, the required resolution of information, and the demand of the mission timeline make it impossible for most parameters to be predicted or modeled using a single approach. Leaders of the METOC community recognize the need to develop and deploy hybrid platforms with different types of sensors for local and regional observations. As envisioned, these platforms would use model results to improve their sensing of the environment and the models would use the platform data to improve their predictions. EXPANDING THE CAPABILITY At the symposium, Navy and academic scientists, NSW boat operators, SEAL team members, and represen- tatives of the various organizations that make up the Navy's METOC infrastructure met in plenary and working group sessions. Discussions centered on ways to improve or augment information on bioluminescence, hazardous marine organisms, waves and surf, currents and tides, bathymetry, humidity and EM-ducting, atmospheric visibil- ity, underwater acoustics, underwater optics, and water temperature. The primary function of the symposium was to bring together individuals of diverse backgrounds and interests to examine an interdisciplinary issue. The steering committee was not charged with identifying specific recommendations for how the sponsors or the research community should attempt to act upon suggestions made during the symposium discussions or otherwise expand the existing capability to support NSW. The steering committee, however, did identify a number of salient points made during the symposium: · The changing geopolitical context that the U.S. Navy operates in is forcing greater emphasis on littoral operations. · Littoral warfare in general, and NSW in particular, call for higher resolution data and predictions than those needed by more traditional open ocean naval operations. · Greater understanding of ocean processes can help decision makers identify the best mix of predictive capability and real-time observations for unfamiliar settings. · Significant information and relevant technology already exists in academia or other research sectors. · Making that knowledge more readily available to NSW and other Navy users will require greater under- standing of both the Navy's needs and the nature of current ocean science knowledge.
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