Lawfare is something that Jim Dunnigan, a colleague of mine at Strategypage.com, has written about extensively. Usually, it focuses on the war on terrorism.
The Natural Resources Defense Council has taken this lawfare to a new level. After lengthy legal action that has stunted the development of SURTASS LFA (see the first article, dated December 31, 2003) and which has tied up a sonar range (see the July 20, 2004 article) off the Carolinas, they are now trying to restrict use of the medium-frequency active sonars (the SQS-53 and SQS-56) - which are used on every surface combatant.
Active sonar has become a big factor these days as fuel cells are replacing diesel engines on the advanced non-nuclear submarines (see the French Scorpene, the German Type 212/214, and the Russian Lada/Amur classes as prime examples of this). Active sonar is probably the best way to detect these subs before they can danage (or sink) one of our ships.
Now, the NRDC is conceding that the Navy could use active sonar in wartime, but their lawsuit is placing our sailors at risk by threatening to cut back on the training. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines fight like they train. If the training is restricted or eliminated, their effectiveness in combat decreases sharply.
The NRDC's lawfare against the Navy could get some sailors killed one of these days.