Tomorrow’s Small Wars Won’t Just Be Land Wars

Imagine a crisis in a coastal country where terrorists and insurgents turn the littorals to their advantage. Are the United States and its allies ready for naval forces to play a key role in counterinsurgency?

Events in Yemen suggests this situation is already upon us. Houthi rebels, pushing deeper into a country surrounded on two sides by sea, have precipitated a regional crisis with several maritime dimensions. The rebels have received arms by sea, leading Saudi Arabia to blockade Yemeni ports, the United States to board freighters, and Iran to dispatch its own warships to the area. Saudi warships also shelled Houthi positions to prevent a takeover of the port city of Aden, while China, India, and Pakistan have evacuated their citizens by sea.

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