Signals Intelligence and Radio Recon: Student Reviews

Over the last weekend we conducted my Signals Intelligence course, which is designed to be a ground level approach to practical monitoring and intelligence gathering but also recognizing the very real threat of unconventional electronic warfare. It’s very much the other side of the coin from what’s taught in the RTO Course. This class is designed around giving small groups the edge using simple, inexpensive and common off the shelf equipment. This is anything but a course on how to use a scanner or SDR; we go beyond simple operation and into taking your equipment beyond what you realized it could do.

I’ll let the students take over.

I recently attended the SIGINT Course presented by Brushbeater. I took this course since I am a Police Officer seeing the new potential threats involving large organized protests. These groups are using electronic technology in the form of easily obtained, off the shelf, radios using a variety of frequencies open for non-licensed use. I searched for courses to put me ahead of the curve that didn’t take up a lot of time and money. I found Brushbeater’s SIGINT (or Signals Intelligence) Course. This class was 2 days long and gave me a “down & dirty” class on listening to public used airwaves. The class taught how to locate the communications in the form of directional antennas and communications receivers. Reporting formats for intelligence gathering, etc. Not only did I learn this but, in doing so, I learned to recognize attacks on radio communication as opposed to just equipment malfunctions.
  This class is designed for the “Prepper” in mind so they can map out radio communications in their area but certainly is useful for a wider audience. I’m glad I attended this class instead of attending a weeklong course on how to use expensive gear that very few Police Departments can afford. This class was designed to use inexpensive and off the shelf gear that the private citizen can use and afford. Well done, Brushbeater!
CPL DR
And the second:
SigInt AAR Dec 2018 SigInt Class 12/1-2/18
Undisclosed Location/NC
After Action Review
This is my evaluation of having attended NC Scouts recent SigInt class.
This is not my first training session w/NCS, having completed a Basic RTO class and doing some ad hoc FTX work as well.
I’m an Amateur Radio Operator, for several years now, and got into AR not for the hobby aspect, but strictly for Emergency Communications (EMCOMM) in the event of some kind of event, pick one: Martians, Korean Para’s, EMP/CME, or more likely, Grid Down,Social Unrest, etc., where day to day comms are disabled/disrupted and I need to communicate with family/friends/Mag Group buddies.
A major goal for me is the ability to monitor all manner of traffic for Intel, from local Public Service, various .gov to .mil and finally down to the Leroy Jenkins Gang/BLM/Antifa/Bubba level, who will most likely be using bubble pack FRS/GMRS/CB radios with a smattering of baofengs thrown in.
That said, I am always looking to expand skillsets and i had seen additional classes come up, an Advanced RTO course, and the SigInt class. I inquired, and based on what I told him my goals were, and current skillsets, he advised the SigInt class, so I signed up.
This is important to me because I have very specific goals with respect to communications as it relates to my skills/goals and situation. He listened to my needs and made a great suggestion. He could have said, come to Advanced Class, then the SigInt class, but made sure I got what I needed.
Ok, nuff of that, on to the meat and ‘taters.
I arrived Fri afternoon, loaded down with my kit that I would use at my location, a suburban neighborhood in a large southern city, and what I would take to the field or in a mobile, roving vehicular application operating individually or in a group.
The goal here was to become more familiar with various monitoring/intercept options, logging, reporting while using current equipment, and OSINT apps.
Some of this kit was new to me, and I wanted to get hands on and become familiar with it features/functions and limitations, now, in a non stressed setting, before a SHTF/Crisis moment. This is critical, and did prove to be the proper approach as
I/we had to fall back onto back up options due to comms failures.
My equipment was a mix of Baofeng ht’s, (NCS says the ramen noodles of radios) a Yaseu VX-6R HT (awesome kit), MFJ Freq Scanner, a laptop running an SDR app, with a wide band, mast mounted discone for RX. I brought other items but these were not needed, as NCS is fully prepared with anything one would need to attend, including small connectors when this student forgot his. In fact, if all you have is a pen and paper, you are good to go, as NO kit is required to come train and learn. DO NOT let lack of kit stop you from attending a class.
Official class started Sat at 0900, when the rest of the crew arrived, a mix of different skill levels and goals and we got down to business. NCS laid out the class agenda, goals and such and we got it. He started at the basic level and built upon that, layering equipment, the reasoning, skills, features and applications, until we had a comprehensive and fairly simple and affordable set up to monitor and intercept all manner of traffic from VHF/UHF, to HF and various services like Public Safety and Air Bands.
We conducted field exercises using HT’s, Yagis and Fox Loops to RDF (radio detection find) transmissions and obtain azimuths/bearings of said transmissions. We developed a Comms TOC and ACE station to collect and analyze traffic, put into proper reporting formats, then communicated that traffic back to the LP/OP and Tracking teams for follow on action.
All in all, it was a great weekend of training, learning, and connecting with like minded individuals who are concerned about the current state of affairs and wish to develop and grow their communications skills and knowledge. It was a good group of fellows, and much was discussed over good food and drinks, and a cigar or two.
The training facility and surrounding land was perfect for the class and provided a real world example of trying to locate folks who may be in your area, on your land and attempting to scout or infiltrate.
The food was top notch grilled chicken and shredded pork with all the fixings and the support staff did a fabulous job of keeping things organized and taken care of. Breakfast and Lunch was provided too. The home made beans were awesome.
At the end of Sunday, were my goals and objectives met, yes, 100%. I learned much,  have a better grasp of this critical portion of emcomm and several takeaways that I can apply now to my situation and AO and will do so promptly.
I have been thru many technical training classes, in both .mil and .civ, positions and can honestly say that NCS is one of the best instructors I have had. He breaks the info down to easy to understand and apply bits and bytes. I highly recommend attending one of his classes, it will be monies well spent and you will leave with real world, practical knowledge and skillsets.
Suburban Guy.
I’m more than humbled by the kind words from experienced professionals. What we strive to do is go where nobody else will, teaching on a level that won’t be found anywhere else in the civilian world. We’ve got more classes on the schedule for the spring and summer dates will be posted soon. Don’t miss a potential opportunity.
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