Mine Neutralization

Theater Mine Defense:
The Next Step in the Evolution
of Mine Countermeasures

Table of Contents





Fundamental Priorities



Implementation of the warfare strategy articulated in "Forward... From the Sea" hinges upon the Navy's ability to effectively dominate the total battle space. In this forward deployed environment, it is imperative that enemy forces be denied access to the battle space in order to ensure freedom of action of U.S. forces both at sea and ashore. The total domination of the battle space requires that naval forces possess the ability to accomplish simultaneously the following five critical functions:

These five functions are the "enablers" (or pillars) which will permit the Navy to initiate control of the total battle space -- air, surface, and undersea -- and to conduct maneuver warfare in the forward deployed environment. Anything less than a complete capability across all five of these functions will jeopardize the entire concept of maneuver warfare in a forward, hostile environment. The surface components of the Navy are the fundamental capability which will ensure that these five enabling functions are achieved.

The ability to accomplish all five of these functions, perhaps simultaneously, is a necessary condition to ensure the freedom of action which is fundamental to the successful implementation of the forward deployment strategy. Achievement of these five functions will permit the joint force structure to execute amphibious operations, to conduct expeditionary operations ashore, to execute strike and shore fire-support, and to protect the air-lift and sea-lift portions of the follow-on operations necessary to achieve the continuous flow ashore of critical war-fighting assets. This article focuses only on the Theater Mine Defense portion of the five critical functions. (top of document)


 Theater Mine Defense Concept

The essence of Theater Mine Defense can be briefly articulated in terms of the Cornerstones, Strategy, and Fundamental Priorities. The Cornerstones are overarching operating principles which form the foundation of the concept. The Strategy articulates the basic structure of the concept in terms of the operational objectives. The Fundamental Priorities identify broad categories of effort which must be pursued to ensure that the Navy possesses the wherewithal to implement the operational strategy. (top of document)


The Theater Mine Defense concept is based upon the precept that an effort will be undertaken to avoid or eliminate the mine threat at all phases of the forward deployment process and during the movement of forces. No longer will mine countermeasures be viewed as something to be done only after the MCM-dedicated platforms arrive in theater. A fundamental feature of Theater Mine Defense is that the total force capabilities be brought to bear on the mitigation of the mine threat. The result will be a concerted effort to avoid and eliminate the mine threat by the synergistic utilization of: (1) strategic surveillance and intelligence to locate enemy mine stockpiles and mine laying activities so that strike and other forces can eliminate the mines before they are placed in the water; (2) tactical surveillance and intelligence to locate mine-free areas, and, to positively identify mined areas to be avoided if at all possible within the constraints of the operational objective; (3) organic MCM equipments and procedures to achieve self-protection of individual combat units and task forces; and, (4) dedicated mine countermeasures forces when the necessity arises to clear large areas of unavoidable mines, minefields and obstacles. (top of document)

These Cornerstones form the foundation of the Theater Mine Defense Strategy described in the following paragraphs.


The Theater Mine Defense strategy consists of three parts:

1. Prevent Mining. To the maximum extent possible, take the steps necessary to prevent the enemy from planting minefields. This portion of the Theater Mine Defense strategy requires the elimination of enemy mine stockpiles and mine-laying capabilities. The implementation of this element of the strategy requires the use of strike or other forces to destroy the enemy's mine warfare infrastructure. This is often a function of the Rules of Engagement imposed upon the particular conflict. However, with the existing and emerging surveillance capabilities, new attention must be focused on this aspect of the mine defense problem.

2. Avoid Mined Areas. The use of strategic and tactical surveillance assets, coupled with the employment of tactical off-board systems -- both airborne and submersible -- will enable individual ships and task forces to effectively avoid mine-danger areas. The strategic surveillance assets can assist in the location of enemy mining efforts. The tactical off-board systems will be necessary to ensure that individual combat units and task forces possess a mine detection and avoidance capability during the transit phase and during on-station battle force operations.

3. Reduce the Threat of Unavoidable Mines. Operational situations will always arise which require specialized MCM forces to deal with the threat of unavoidable mines and minefields. When these situations arise, the conventional MCM forces will be called into play to perform hunt, neutralize and sweep actions. Due to the fact that Navy operational forces will never know the exact nature of the mine threat, the fundamental concept of conventional MCM operations is based upon the precept of reducing the risk to transiting platforms to an acceptable level. To complement the hunt, neutralize and sweep actions, passive self-protection techniques such as degaussing and quieting will continue to be employed. (top of document)

Fundamental Priorities

In order to implement the strategy articulated in the preceding paragraphs, the RDT&E acquisition process must focus on achievement of three fundamental priorities.

1. Full Connectivity and Interoperability. The Joint Force Commander must have at his disposal a complete strategic and tactical picture of on-going operations including all aspects of the Theater Mine Defense efforts. Seamless connectivity and effective interoperability are absolutely essential to the achievement of an integrated Theater Mine Defense capability. All platforms engaged in any aspect of the mine defense effort must be fully integrated into the overall battle force and command authority linkages.

2. Enhanced Mine Defense Capabilities. With the diminish- ing force structure in terms of number of combat platforms, it is absolutely essential that Navy units and task forces be equipped with state-of-the-art combat systems which leverage all available and emerging technical advances. This is especially true of the mine defense elements, whether they be either organic or dedicated capabilities. This thrust to field new systems, upgrade and improve existing capabilities -- across the total mine defense functional spectrum -- is a central element of the overall Theater Mine Defense strategy.

3. Theater- Level Mine Defense Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis (MS&A) Capability. A fundamental element of the mine defense strategy must be the development and use of models, simulations, and analysis techniques which can effectively integrate with similar capabilities in the areas of theater air defense, surface warfare, and C4ISR. The M&S capability is essential to support the acquisition decision process. Within the emerging environment, a synergistic MS&A capability must be available for acquisition decision support, training, T&E, tactics evaluation and development, and mission rehearsal, reconstruction and evaluation. The various models and simulations cannot be developed in isolation. The great utility of MS&A lies in the ability to effectively assess the relative contributions of the major war-fighting components to the overall Navy mission. (top of document)



Theater defense is the fundamental enabler which will permit the Navy to initiate control of the battle space prior to commencement of maneuver warfare in a hostile, forward-deployed environment. Theater Mine Defense is one of the pillars of theater defense.

This paper briefly describes the concept of Theater Mine Defense in terms of the functions to be accomplished, and in terms of the cornerstones upon which the concept rests. A general strategy is articulated and the fundamental priorities necessary to support the strategy are identified.

Theater Mine Defense is the next logical step in the evolution of mine countermeasures. (top of document)