Because of the interest in Riverine operations..a look down at South American Riverine Forces and operations are in order... starting with Columbia.. HPU/SBU-26 had a big impact on Columbian Navy/Marines
It is interesting to note than the Riverine force in Colombia are in fact Marines. Three Divisions Operating in the Rivers leading in from the caribbean, The Orinocco, and the third based out of Puerto Legiuzimo.
The assets they use are courtesy of the FMS or Foreign Military Sales program that they enjoy, primarily with funding from our government. It is interesting the combinations of boats that they use that allow them to dominate any river from the size of the Orinocco and Coco to far up tributaries. I beleive that sleek command unit in the top photo is based out of Pto. Leguizimo. On the Coco that leads to the Pacific. Across the river is Ecuador. Across the river on the Orinocco, is Venezuela. Formally a freindly country to ours.
It is interesting that on many operations, the Colombian National Police are the ground forces inserted. There is an outstanding relationship between these two entities. All these troops are highly motivated. I have personally operated with thier Boston Whaler patrol craft. Extremely hand boats due to the 40ft depth range on the river from one season to the other. They rarely operate at night due to the torrential rains that occur in the Venezuelan Highlands that thunder waves of water that carry full sized trees, sometime 100 ft tall down current with it. Extremely hazardous at night. when the river rises at the peak of rainy season, the river swells into the surrounding jungle. you may find yourself traveling amongst the tree tops during this time. The former U.S. PBR's and MATC's have been trailered to the main bases and operate in that area indefinetly.
If the Colombian Marines are anything, they are surely aggresive. It is part of the culture and an inherent trait to all Marines no matter what flag they fly. However, they are still working on fundementals such as fire control, consistent maintenance (Usually corrective), Night Ops and Patrol discipline. Much of the problems are due to the education level of the average trooper. There is a huge gap between the education of the Officers and men. Some officers have attended our military Academies and attend our war colleges. The enlisted frequently have minimum education at best.
Maintaining the assets can be dicey at best. Frequently, cannibalization is the word of the day for spare parts though the US aid has, in the past helped with this endeavor. It was an additional task of SBU-26's DFT/MTT Programs. Bringing spare parts and training the Marines on maintenance was successful to the extent that they were eager and usually only required training once to get it. Logistics is always an issue and since maintenance skills are perishable ones, later retraining was required.
The Riverine Force is more an Assault force than a Special Ops group. The Marines are certainly smart enough for the complexity of both types of operations but it is difficult to weed out some guys that are patient, as well as bright. The boys are Gung-ho, to say the least. Works well for Assault. Not so sure about PPoopin and Snoopin though.
As far as fire control, there are quite a few incidents where aggresiveness over shadows safety. They are not timid in cutting loose with the weapons. Overwhelming firepower is generally not an issue. Note the picture of the Boston Whaler above, It has One M2HB fwd and 4 M60's port and stbd. Only a 22ft boat.
The RIVDIV's would have an awesome training opportunity with the Colombian Marines. They are both an assault force. SBU-26 did provide valuble training and other services however, Doctrinal differences were limiting.
Forward Basing of our assets in Colombia is impossible at this time. However, it is the Goose that can lay the Golden Egg for the Riverines if, they play thier cards right.
From the latest pic, you can see the team rides in the back. It's great for backing off a mud bank but, it's a bitch getting on step. Note the 4 M-60's. Far outgunned the 26 PBL's. Like I said before though. The Colombians can make you a bit nervous to operate with, them wild bastards.