Putting the Pieces Together
These are each pieces of a puzzle that have to be sorted out long before a Patrol steps off. This is why these things should be getting mastered now; because the Johnny-come-lately will be in for a shock the day he figures out this stuff is harder than it looks.
As pointed out in the comments section of the Report Formats post by MSG Morgan, the formats themselves have been around a while and for good reason- they work. Another reader commented on the necessity of practicing critical messages before you send them. Couldn’t agree more; commit it to memory now. Having the equipment is one thing; knowing how to use it is yet another; using it efficiently under duress is critical.
Some external stressors would make for one heck of a field day, yes?
So, what are Commo Windows?
Before your Patrol ever even contemplates stepping out, everyone, from the Team guys to the BRS guys to the Head Shed- gets together and sorts out times that transmissions will be sent back and forth. These are Commo Windows.
Everyone has their radios on, ready to transmit and ready to receive.
It is during this time that the Reports are sent; they’re practiced, composed and proofread before sending. Read it to yourself- does it make sense? Believe it or not, a couple days without sleep and you’ll write down some truly interesting things to send. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Typically the Windows last for a couple hours, twice a day, at obscure times. One thing to consider during planning is that the BRS, TL, and RTO should each have their watches set to Zulu time(GMT). Why? Because maybe I’m in NC, but I’m coordinating with another unit in TN. To eliminate confusion, everyone is on the same time. Roger? Roger Out.
During insertion, everyone’s lines of communication are open, as this is one of the most dangerous phases of the mission. If commo doesn’t work/fails during insertion, the mission is nixed right there. Teams move to the exfil sites and await pickup. Additionally, the BRS continuously monitors the net for any emergency traffic, such as a Compromise report, a Call for Fire, or a MEDEVAC. Each of these immediately trigger the exfiltration plan. The BRS radios are always on.
Commo windows also serve a dual purpose; primarily they relay information, but also they tell your higher units that you’re not dead or captured. Pretty important, huh?
A patrol in the field does not miss commo windows, but sometimes they do. Maybe your radio takes a dump, maybe the band conditions are bad, maybe it’s just not your day.
Why ain’t this working?? It worked before we left!
One commo window missed results in the BRS attempting to make contact by Alternate means(remember PACE?). Two commo windows missed results in your backup(QRF) coming to look for you in your last known area.
Are you starting to see why this takes a Team? I hope so.
Establishing the Baseline
Having a bunch of gear and playing with it is nice; working under duress however is critical. You have to find out what works now and start building a procedure. Additionally, it takes a team for this stuff to work.
The more professional you become now, working in the field and in a team setting, the easier it will get later.