Farewell, Coastal Riverine Forces.

Hail, Maritime Expeditionary Security Forces.

The Navy’s Expeditionary Combat Command announced this week that it is changing the name of the sea service arm tasked with all facets of riverine warfare.

While the Navy has a long history operating in littorals and inland waterways, the Coastal Riverine Forces were established in 2005, in part to combat insurgents using such waters in Iraq.

It’s now the umbrella organization for training and deploying sailors specializing in riverine ops, littoral missions and port security, among others.

But the so-called “great power competition” that has seen the U.S. military pivot back to preparing for war against conventional forces after two decades of asymmetric campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere led to the change in the force’s name, NECC spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Amber Lewis said in a statement.

“While history and tradition are important to the U.S. Navy, there are times when a name does not capture the role and mission of a force,” Lewis said. “The new name captures the (Maritime Expeditionary Security Forces') growing blue-water fleet integration and contributions to the high-end fight in an era of Great Power Competition, which are more robust than the legacy riverine roles.”

“As we maintain a connection to our legacy, we must honor those warriors that come before us and learn from their heroism,” Rear Adm. Joseph DiGuardo, commander of NECC, said in a statement. “We must continuously evolve to meet the needs of the Navy and the Nation for Great Power Competition, crisis and conflict.”

The MESF is comprised of two groups based in San Diego and Virginia Beach, respectively, with detachments and deployed units across the globe.

Riverine warfare has a long history in the Navy, dating back to the Revolutionary War, when American sailors in row galleys engaged the formidable warships of the hated British overseers operating in colonial waterways.

Modern American riverine warfare came of age during the Vietnam War, as patrol boats and river assault craft combed the Mekong Delta and other vital waterways.

“Where water is, sailors will go,” the late Adm. Horacio Rivero once said of the riverine mission in Vietnam.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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