TacComms Class After Thoughts


I just finished up teaching a two day private TacComms class to a wonderful group of patriots.

This was the first time I was able to really test the tinySA. We did some distance testing and with one person on 1 watt of power on a handheld. The tinySA picked up his frequency at 350 yds.

Putting the tinySA to use in the field the students didn’t have near the luck. They were never able to picking the other students signal using the tinySA.

The tinySA has a low input and high input that doesn’t seem to be able to use at the same time. So you basically can only look at VHF or UHF signals. If you want to swap back and forth you have to change input from high to low and change the antenna to either the high or low port. If there is a way to monitor both I have not figured it out yet. For the price tag of $65 a person could easily buy two and have them monitor the both high and low frequencies.

The students built two antennas. They built a free standing jungle antenna and a Yagi antenna. All antennas worked perfectly.

They used scanners and SDR to get a baseline of RF frequencies in their area.

I want to point out AGAIN that unknown analog signals are NOT that easy to catch even using 2 scanners scanning VHF and UHF and the tinySA as long as you are using proper signal reducing techniques.

All three SIGINT teams never were able to catch the patrol teams signal even though the patrol team and TOC were talking excessively just to give the SIGINT a chance to intercept them. All three teams were within one mile of each other.

One final note is you need to know your equipment. When getting a new piece of equipment you need to take it and the operators manual with you everywhere you go and any free time learn its operation. That is what I see is the biggest problem people have included me.

On a side note while I was teaching the TacComms class my good friend NC SCOUT over at brushbeater.org released his first book. Definitely show him some support by ordering his book!!


I’m reposting these for those who are new here and those who have forgotten.

These come from ATP 6-02.53

Table 10-1. Techniques for minimizing transmissions and transmission times

Ensure all transmissions are necessary. Analysis of U.S. tactical communications indicates that most communication used in training exercises are explanatory and not directive. Radio communications must never use as a substitute for complete planning. Tactical radio communications should be used to convey orders and critical information rapidly. Execution of the operation must be inherent in training, planning, ingenuity, teamwork, and established and practiced standing operating procedures. The high volume of radio communications that usually precedes a tactical operation makes the friendly force vulnerable to enemy interception, direction finding, jamming, and deception.

Note. When communications are secure, the volume of radio transmissions can betray an operation, and the enemy can still disrupt or destroy the ability of U.S. forces to communicate.

Preplan messages prior to transmitting them. The radio operator should know what to say before beginning a transmission. When the situation and time permit, write out the message before beginning the transmission. This minimizes the number of pauses in the transmission and decreases transmission time. It also ensures the conciseness of the message. The Joint Interoperability of Tactical Command and Control System provide a standard vocabulary used for message planning. The Joint Interoperability of Tactical Command and Control System voice templates are some of the best tools a radio operator can use to minimize transmission time.

Transmit quickly and precisely as possible. This is critical when the quality of communications is poor. This minimizes the need to repeat a radio transmission. Unnecessary repetition increases transmission time and the enemy’s opportunity to intercept U.S. transmissions and thus gain valuable information. When a transmission is necessary, the radio operator should speak in a clear, wellmodulated voice, and use proper radiotelephone procedures.

Use equipment capable of data burst transmission. This is one of the most significant advantages of tactical satellite communications systems. When messages are encoded on a digital entry device for transmission over satellite systems, the transmission time is greatly reduced.

Use an alternate means of communications. Alternate means of communications, such as cable, wire, or organic Soldiers performing as messengers, used to convey necessary directives and information. Other means of communications used, when practical.

Use of brevity codes. A brevity code is a code that provides no security, but which has as its sole purpose the shortening of messages rather than the concealment of their content. (Refer to ATP 1-02.1 for more information.)

10-54. The following are additional techniques to consider for minimizing transmissions and transmission times—

Protect transmissions from enemy interception.

Use low power.

Select the proper antenna. Select the antenna with the shortest range possible. Use directional antennas.

Select a site that masks transmitted signals from the enemy interception.

Use mobile antennas.

Use decoy antennas.

Use steerable null antenna processors.

Practice good radio operator procedures.

Reduce operator distinguishing characteristics.

Operate on a random schedule.


Encrypt all essential elements of friendly information.

Use COMSEC equipment when available.

Use prowords.

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