Naval War College Review


On 12 October 2000, two men from an organization aligned with al-Qa‘ida loaded a rigid raider (a small boat with glass-reinforced-plastic hull) withexplosives and drove it into the side of the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67). Seventeen sailors lost their lives. This was a seminal event. It epitomized small war versus “big” war and the threat that small-war tactics could present to “big war” fleets. It was also an echo of the U.S. Navy’s past. As the initial alarm faded, the Navy’s response became largely inward looking and defensive, limited for the most part to the implementation of more robust force-protection measures.