Take this photo here:
…and compare it with this one:
Removing Afghanistan from the matrix, let’s start to narrow it down. In the top photo, a team is setting up shop, out of pickup trucks, to operate in an area for a while. In the bottom photo, a team is setting up shop, out of pickup trucks, to operate in an area for a while. A lot more of these situations will be happening before its over- things are in the slow roll phase, as most folks who study conflict would agree upon. Get it?
Notice that giant whip antenna on the Afghan truck? That’s a low band VHF antenna that performs quite well in the terrain there.
First things first
Units cannot operate for long without sufficient signal assets- commit this to memory. It’s great to have the will to fight but without more thought than showing up with a rifle and a smile is going to carry you as far as the Bundys got. I know it sounds harsh but it’s true; the goal is to win folks. Losing sucks.
It was pointed out in recent discussion that the folks occupying Malheur had little more than cell phones initially…which means they were relying upon someone else’s infrastructure, easily compromised, and ineffective. I understand they were using radios secured on-site; on frequencies already well known to the authorities there.
There’s a serious flaw in using OPFOR’s equipment as your own when it comes to radio.
Rolling Your Own Plan
As many have pointed out before, tactical communications are tiered- local/unit level and regional/larger unit level.
At the local level, which is normally line of sight, communications should be implemented in certain ways, normally related to key Leader positions on the ground, and limited to transmitting only when really necessary. Those needs are covered here and here.
Our best options at the tactical level for regional communications are HF, and specifically NVIS for that magical 300-400mi radius, cutting out skip zones commonly found with HF propagation, which I’ve covered here.
On DF, Jamming, et. al.
While both of these are a definite concern, careful consideration should be given to both to make ourselves the most effective we can be. Complete jamming of all the HF bands is extremely hard to do, possibly next to impossible. The only thing that does that is the Sun; and even then, it’s not constant. Line of Sight(LOS) definitely can be, as any Iraq vet can tell you, but only in a very limited radius. As for HF, there’s plenty of ways that your transmissions can be interfered with, as five minutes of listening to 14.313mhz would demonstrate, but in keeping your transmissions short, and limited to pre-planned commo windows and report formats, the interference threat is greatly reduced.
Direction Finding is a concern, but there’s ways to mitigate this. As I pointed out here, there’s ways to mitigate this. The biggest one is through the use of directional communications. We do this by building directional antennas. A really simple one, known as the Sloping Vee, is seen here:
Hams know these as Vee Beams…as in, “they beam the signal in a direction.” Normally these are built from wire in the field, but there’s other options out there. It’s simply a dipole folded forward in the direction your transmission is meant to go; meaning keep a compass in your pocket, and know how to read a map to shoot an azimuth.
Deploying from a pickup truck rapidly and possibly on the move, stringing wire up in a tree may not always be the best option. You might want to include a large camera tripod as a simple and easy mast, or possibly a milsurp mast system.
As I stated before, it’s really tough to completely jam an HF band. In addition, keeping solid, directional HF communications with another position could do a lot to further the mission…such as uploading pictures and real time data over digital modes after a good amount of practice. We’ve learned so far, to no one’s surprise, that the media is only there to reinforce OPFOR’s narrative. Working on networks you have complete control over is a big step in the right direction.
You can either hope for a miracle or start making one on your own. There’s going to be a lot more of these types of situations, and likely the response will be hasty in nature. Planning for it, and using our equipment gathered in a less than conventional way is going to make all the difference. It is an unconventional fight, act accordingly.