Communications within and between small units is critical to mission success. It is important to understand some very basic rules and procedures for operating a radio or other piece of communication equipment.
1. Transmit only when necessary. Not only will idle chatter distract the receiving party, it may compromise his and your positions, and all communications may be monitored and triangulated. Do not discuss the weather, sports scores, or anything that doesn't apply to the success of the current mission.
2. Limit your transmissions to no more than FIVE seconds each. Anything longer than five seconds is enough time to almost guarantee that anyone with even moderately effective equipment can find you. Insert breaks in any transmissions that need to be longer.
3. Never use actual names, addresses, or anything else that is sensitive over the air. Never use a personal name over the air. Use their fire team unit and position designation, if you know it, for example, Katana One. Make up something using the person's initials if you have to. Use personal reference points to keep information secure. For example, if one of your fire team members is a postal worker, refer to them as such, if you have to. Never, ever, ever use a person's real name over the air. Ever.
Never use addresses, unless you can encode them somehow (more on that later). Use place names that the unit may have developed. Examples can be "The Badlands", or "The Wheat Farm", or "the place where Havoc Three spilled his enchiladas". If you have to use a location, try to use a pre-determined set of grid references, like in your Delorme Gazetteer map of the counties in the state, but never broadcast which maps you are using openly. For example, you can say, "Green Book, page (whatever), B5." Where the green book is a certain map book. Make sure that everyone has the same edition of that book, to avoid confusion.
4. Always speak clearly. This should be a given. Never pause on the air. Know what you are going to say BEFORE you key the mike. Know what your response is BEFORE you key the mike. DO NOT pollute the airwaves with unnecessary "ummms", "ahhhhs" and anything else that announces cluelessness over the air. Do not key the mike while looking up some information. Do not key the mike unless you are prepared to speak.
5. Do not "step" on each other. Always say, "over" when it is time for the other guy to talk. Always say, "break" when you still have more to say but are breaking the transmission to keep it short. When two other people are talking to each other, do not jump in unless they call you.
6. Acknowledge the reception of information with a brief repetition of it. For example, "A" might transmit, "Move your team up 200 yards to the fence line, then go north to the crest and cover the field to your west when we are ready to move"; "B" would respond with, "Up 200, cover from crest, OK". This lets both parties know that each other understands, without any errors or excess, "Did you understand what I said?" back and forth several times.
Directions should be given from a specific, unmistakable reference. The other guy doesn't always know what you have in mind; "Go left" - (whose left, yours or mine?), "Come back toward the trees" - (which trees?), "We're behind you" - (200 yards back along the trail, or 20 feet away?). If it can be misunderstood, it will be.
7. Do not get into pissing contests over the air, with ANYBODY. EVER. PERIOD.
8. Always have an alternate frequency, and another back-up for that. Always have a fall-back frequency or channel, in case you get compromised, stepped on, or get into the previously mentioned pissing contest. Make sure that everyone knows what these back-up channels are. Make sure that everyone in the net understands when it is time to change channels, either by a predetermined code word, or at a pre-set time. When it is time to change channels, make sure that you do a commo check with everyone on the new channel to make sure that they have indeed switched over.
9. Change channels on a regular basis anyway. Even if you are not compromised, you should change channels at least every 24 hours. If you are limited to the number of channels you have access to, just rotate your primary, back-up, and alternate back-up frequency every 24 hours.
10. Have a pre-determined code. Even a simple 123ABC grid reference of some sort may do the trick here. Simply get a three-by-five card and write a five-by-five square grid on it, with five numbers on top, and five letters on the left side. Fill in the alphabet, randomly. Change daily. Use this if you have to spell things out securely. If you want to include numbers, simply use a six-by-six set of squares, and add numbers, randomly, into the grid. If you need to, put each day's frequency on these cards. Guard these closely. This is the militia equivalent of the military CEOI (communications electronics operators instructions), and radio operators are instructed to die to prevent these from falling into enemy hands. Maybe you should limit these to your team leaders and radio operators.
11. Always let someone know when you are going to be off the net. If you are changing batteries, or shutting down for any reason, let someone on the net know, and let them know approximately how long you will be off the air, and alert them when you are back on the net. If it would compromise your situation, do not discuss why you are shutting down. Just make sure that someone knows.
12. Learn the military phonetic alphabet. It is pretty much common sense to pick it up.
14. DO NOT DISCUSS ANYTHING THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO TELL THE WORLD ON ANY AIRWAVE, CHANNEL, NETWORK OR FREQUENCY. EVER, EVER, EVER. ALWAYS ASSUME THAT YOU ARE BEING MONITORED.
Military Phonetic Alphabet
Ltr Name Morse Code Ltr Name Morse Code A Alpha . _ N November _ . B Bravo _ . . . O Oscar _ _ _ C Charlie _ . _ . P Papa . _ _ . D Delta _ . . Q Quebec _ _ . _ E Echo . R Romeo . _ . F Fox-trot . . _ . S Sierra . . . G Golf _ _ . T Tango _ H Hotel . . . . U Uniform . . _ I India . . V Victor . . . _ J Juliet . _ _ _ W Whiskey . _ _ K Kilo _ . _ X X-ray _ . . _ L Lima . _ . . Y Yankee _ . _ _ M Mike _ _ Z Zulu _ _ . .
Military Phonetic Alphabet
|Ltr||Name||Morse Code||Ltr||Name||Morse Code|
|A||Alpha||. _||N||November||_ .|
|B||Bravo||_ . . .||O||Oscar||_ _ _|
|C||Charlie||_ . _ .||P||Papa||. _ _ .|
|D||Delta||_ . .||Q||Quebec||_ _ . _|
|E||Echo||.||R||Romeo||. _ .|
|F||Fox-trot||. . _ .||S||Sierra||. . .|
|G||Golf||_ _ .||T||Tango||_|
|H||Hotel||. . . .||U||Uniform||. . _|
|I||India||. .||V||Victor||. . . _|
|J||Juliet||. _ _ _||W||Whiskey||. _ _|
|K||Kilo||_ . _||X||X-ray||_ . . _|
|L||Lima||. _ . .||Y||Yankee||_ . _ _|
|M||Mike||_ _||Z||Zulu||_ _ . .|
This is the format to be used when submitting intelligence reports:
S: Size of the unit or formation you have observed. Number of persons or vehicles visible.
A: Activity of unit, persons, or formation you have observed. Clearly describe what you have seen them doing, include direction and speed of movement.
L: Location of what you have observed. Distance and direction from nearest intersection, an address, or an eight-digit grid coordinate will work.
U: Unit or uniform. Describe what they were wearing. Describe any insignia, signs, banners, or flags. Note type of camouflage.
T: Time and duration of your observation.
E: Equipment they carried or were using. As best as you can, describe the types of weapons and gear that you observed. this includes communication gear, weapons, and vehicles.
Pictures and sketches are always encouraged, but never place yourself at risk to get a picture when a description will suffice.
I am done talking and am waiting for your response.
I am done talking and am not waiting for your response.
"prepare to copy"
- I am sending you information that you will need to write down.
- did you understand and write down my last transmission?
- I am still talking, but am breaking the transmission into smaller pieces.
- please stand by for a moment.
- I will call you back when I get the info you want.
- I missed something.
"say again all after..."
- I missed what came after a certain word.
Use "affirmative" and "negative" instead of "yes" and "no"
Never use profanity.
Always establish who you are and to whom you are speaking
Speak clearly and effectively.