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To accomplish missions related to the War on Terror, including missions to deny terrorists the use of the maritime environment and to empower partner nations to do the same, the U.S. Navy must engage in theater security cooperation (TSC) — the vehicle through which the United States extends influence, develops access, and promotes competence among potential coalition partners — with foreign militaries. The Navy asked the RAND Corporation to analyze necessary small vessel characteristics, focusing on TSC operations in sub-Saharan Africa. Using a strategies-to-tasks methodology, the authors develop concepts of operation for employing small ships in TSC, translate TSC tasks into required capabilities, and derive ship characteristics from these capabilities. After incorporating factors such as potential partner acquisition trends and operating conditions into their analysis, the authors describe three classes of vessels for consideration by the Navy. The authors also provide recommendations to increase the effectiveness of TSC operations conducted with a small vessel. These recommendations include giving greater thought to problems of gaining access for TSC, selecting crews with appropriate skills, and considering the foreign naval vessels with which the small vessel may interact. In an epilogue, the authors present the results of additional tasking from the Navy to apply RAND’s methodology to evaluate the 331-ton PC-1 Cyclone Class for use in TSC. The authors found that the PC-1 would be fully capable, given an appropriate support ship. This result was accepted for use by the Navy.

The research described in this report was prepared for the United States Navy. The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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