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Radio Telephone Operator Course

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Lesson Plan

Introduction and General overview

Welcome players to the course

Time expected: 120-150 minutes

Introduce yourself

Introduce the goals of the course

  • Know the ABC of radio communication
  • Send signals in accordance with ABC
  • Utilize pro words correctly
  • Be able to send and receive correct reports

Outline course topic

  • ABC of radio communication
  • Components of a signal
  • Types of net and organization
  • Pro words and their use
  • Reports
  • Practical exercise

Radio signals are now an essential part of winning modern warfare. Without it no unit can function optimally against a unit using proper radio communication. This course is designed to teach you the fundamentals for communicating swiftly and effectively on the radios within ACRE using real life signals protocols.


ABC of Radio Communication

By disseminating information in a standardized order using reports we can speed up the passing of information, but by choosing our words carefully we further increase the process. To ensure fast and effective information sharing via a radio net we use an acronym called ABC.

Accuracy

Passing accurate information in your message is important. If for example a contact report using SALTA is passed along with an incorrect location of the enemy the information is not accurate and therefore useless. The information must always be true to what you have seen, heard or experienced and with no alteration made if the information is given to you by a third party with the intent of you relaying the information.

Brevity

A radio net usually contains several call signs making time spent sending a signal a valuable commodity. Especially when the unit enters combat brevity becomes imperative to avoid clogging the net with redundant words and phrases. Before pressing your PTT think about how you will formulate your message. It needs to be short, to the point and without unnecessary words. One way is to say the report inside your head before sending it and then use the corrections needed when you send the message.

Think. Push. Speak.

Clarity

Based on the first two factors your message must still remain clear and understandable. Just as brevity clarity also requires a proper selection of words and without redundancy, but also proper pronunciation, correct use of pro words and radio procedures. If a player has a heavy accent it may be necessary to slow down to ensure correct pronunciation and the receiving call sign hearing the signal correctly. Make sure you understand the meaning of a pro word and when to use it.


Components of a Signal

A signal is composed of four parts.

  1. Call signs. The call signs of the sender and the receiver. These must be correct as to avoid confusion and thatthe information is passed along to the intended person.
  2. Initiating traffic. The sender establishing contact with the receiver and the receiver telling he is ready to receive the signal.
  3. Message. The information in the form of a report or coordination the sender wants the receiver to know.
  4. Ending traffic. The sender or receiver ends the signal and the net becomes available again.

Example 1.

"1, this is 6. Over"
"This is 1. Send, over"
"You look pretty, over"
"Copy. So do you, out"

Example 2.

"6, this is 1. LOCSTAT, Over"
"This is 6. Send LOCSTAT, over"
"Grid 123 456. Northern edge of the forest on line facing north, over"
"Solid copy. 6, out"

Types of Net and Organization

A radio net is a radio frequency where one or several call signs are assigned to and use for their communications. A net exists from the squad level all the way up to planetary communication. In UO we usually operate with a simple set of nets due to the size of our missions and the assets available.

Squad level communications

The lowest form of radio communication happens on the squad level with the PRC343. It is used primarily by the squad leader to communicate with his fire team leaders, but all squad members may also be equipped with the radio. Radio discipline is more lax on this level. A signal may be sent using names instead of call signs, but still use correct initiation/ending of traffic and pro words.

Example 1.

"Dave, this is smith. Over"
"Smith, over"
"I see you, over"
"Roger. You look nice. Out"

Platoon level communications

The platoon net is used for communication in between the platoon leader, the platoon 2IC, squad leaders and vehicle commanders. Radio discipline is enforced with ABC and template reports. Most call signs on this net will be equipped with a handheld radios such as the PRC148 or PRC152. These are capable of long range communication up to 5 kilometres in the case of the PRC148 and beyond with the PRC152 given the right conditions.

Company level communications

At UO the company net is usually the highest net encountered. This net is used for communication in between the company commander and his subordinate platoons and also houses the supporting assets such as logistical, engineer or fire support assets if they are not attached to a lower unit. Most call sign on the net are RTOs that tie together the different platoon and fire support nets with the company net. Call signs will be issued with either powerful handheld radios such as the PRC152 or man pack radios such as the PRC77 or PRC117F.

Fire support control net

This net is reserved for communications between the forward observer and JTAC to artillery units and aircraft. The net will contain the FDC or pilot of an aircraft along side with the RTO of the FO or JTAC.


Pro Words and Their Use

Pro words are series of words that have a standard meaning attached to it. This is to shorten signals by having a single word replace entire sentences and to avoid confusion.

Review the list of prowords and discuss what they mean.

  • All call signs - The message is for all call signs on this net.
  • Break - Used to divide a long message into points. The net is still your, but others the chance to interrupt with important reports. Wait 2-3 seconds then transmit again.
  • Copy - Used to acknowledge the message sent to you. You received the signal and understood it. Use when having received information.
  • Good/Solid Copy - Same as above
  • Flash - Used to interrupt ongoing signals e.g. "... Flash! Flash! Flash! 6, this is 1. Contact, contact. Wait, out".
  • How Copy - Used to confirm the receiver has received and understood the message.
  • Contact - The sender is in contact and has been engaged by enemy fire.
  • Check fire - Cease fire and confirm your target as friend or foe.
  • LOC - Location. Pronounced as "lock".
  • Over - My message is complete. You may reply.
  • Out - This signal is over. Do not reply.
  • Oscar Mike - On the move.
  • Roger - I understand. Use when having received information.
  • Repeat - Repeat last fire mission or close air support mission.
  • Say again - Resend your last transmission. I did not understand it.
  • Send - Send your transmission.
  • Wait - A 3-5 second pause. The net is still yours, but others may interrupt with important reports.
  • Wait, out - Used when you need to either collect or confirm information and will send a signal back to the sender once able to.
  • Wilco - Will comply. I have understood and will carry out your order. Use when having received an order.

Radio Reports

As with ABC and pro words radio reports is another way to shorten and speed up the passing of information. Reports are a standardized template for the order in which we send the information.

Radio Check

A radio check is conducted to ensure all players and call signs are on the right channel and frequency. It is conducted before the mission begins in order to assure effective communication and no one are on the wrong net. It can be done on all levels from fire team to company and upwards. As a standard always check in in the numerical order of your callsign (1,2,3,4..) or in a specified order given in the message.

  • Initiate traffic
  • Message (Radio check)
  • Confirm message
  • End traffic

Example 1.

"1st squad, this is Dave"
"In order of Abe, Bill, Charlie, Dwight, Erick. Radio check, over"
"Abe, loud and clear, over"
"Bill, loud and clear" over

And so on..

"This is Dave. Read you all loud and clear, out"

Example 2.

"All callsigns, this is A6R. Radio check, over"
"1'6R. Loud and clear, over"
"2'6R. Loud and clear, over"

And so on...

"This is A6R. Read you all loud and clear, out"

SALTA

Used for sending a contact report on platoon level and upwards. As soon as the fire fight begins and the contact is under way one should send a preliminary warning. This will let others know exactly who is in contact and when able to a full SALTA report should follow.

  • Size of the enemy
  • Activity of the enemy
  • Location of the enemy
  • Time of sighting or contact
  • Action taken by own forces

Example 1.

"6, this is 1. Contact report, over"
"This is 6, send, over"
"Enemy infantry section. Moving in staggered column. MSR (Main supply Route) Iron from south to north at grid 123 456. Time now. My squad is on line ready to engage. I'll continue observing the enemy, over"
"Copy. Hold in position. 6, out"

Example 2.

The contact begins

"All call signs, this is 1. Contact, contact. Wait, out"
"6, this is 1. Contact report, over"
"This is 6, send, over"
"One T-72. Opened fire with canon on my squad. Located at grid 123 456 on the western side of the church in hull down position. 2 minutes ago. I have disengaged and moved back, over"
"Copy. Hold in position. 6, out"

SITREP

A situation report is given to a superior upon your own initiative or his request. This report is meant to attain situational awareness on the situation and location of a callsign.

  • Location
  • Situation at grid
  • Own actions
  • Support needed(optional)

Example 1.

"1, this is 6. Send SITREP, over"
"This is 1. I am located at 123 456 in column moving west. I was in contact with an enemy team patrolling near the MSR running from north to south. I destroyed the contact and are on my way back to the platoon. I have one man wounded and unable to walk. Request the medic ready at CCP on arrival, over"
"Copy. Medic is ready, out"

LOCSTAT

The location status report is used for quickly attaining a callsign's position.

  • Grid of call sign's location and displacement

Example 1.

"1, this is 6. Send LOCSTAT, over"
"This is 1. Grid 123 456. Stationary on wedge towards north, over"
"Solid copy, out"

Request For Fire Support

A request for fire support is usually called in by someone other than a Forward Observer (Artillery) or JTAC (Air support). Either because the FO or JTAC are not available or have been killed, but the fire support is still available. The support can be called by squad leaders and upwards, but clearance from the superior of the unit must always be obtained before a subordinate call down fire support.

  • Target location (grid and elevation)
  • Target description (marking)
  • Friendly location (marking)
  • Get confirmation

Markings is used when calling in air support. This makes it easier for the pilot to tell friend from foe. Markings used can be smoke, laser designator or IR laser. Remember to specify the colour of smoke used to mark both enemy and friendly location, or if there is no marking used.

The FDC or pilot will decide on ordinance to be used based upon your description.

Example 1 (artillery/mortars):

"Steel Rain, this is Alpha 1'1. Requesting fire support, over"

"This is Steel Rain. Send request, over"

"Target location: Grid 1234 5678. Three BMP-2s in the open. Friendly location: Grid 1232 5466, over"

Steel Rain reads back information to confirm.. "over"

"Information correct, over"

"Ten rounds of DPICM in effect. Time of Flight: 25 seconds, out"

Example 2 (CAS):

"November 1, this Alpha 1'1. Requesting air support, over"

"This is November 1. Send request, over"

"Target location: Grid 1234 5678. Target is single T-80 dug in at south-west corner of treeline. Marked with red smoke. Friendly location: South 800m at grid 1232 1866. Friendlies not marked, over"

November 1 reads back information to confirm.. "over"

"Information correct, over"

"Ingressing from the west, egress east. Gun and rockets. Time on target: 40 seconds. Out"


Practical Exercise

Set up six different report locations in a circle as follows.

  • SALTA with enemies.
  • LOCSTAT
  • Request for Fire Support with enemies (Air)
  • SITREP
  • SALTA with enemies
  • Request for Fire Support with enemies (Artillery)

Mark the stations on the map denoting what each station is for. The circle circumference can be made smaller to reduce time.

Enemy infantry is depicted by pop up targets and vehicles by using the "empty" category. Divide the students into six teams and supply them with a car or truck for transport.

COMSIG and starting point.

  • Instructor - A6R
  • Team 1 - 1'1R - Location 1
  • Team 2 - 1'2R - Location 2
  • Team 3 - 1'3R - Location 3
  • Team 4 - 2'1R - Location 4
  • Team 5 - 2'2R - Location 5
  • Team 6 - 2'3R - Location 6

Channel 1 LR for all if one instructor is present. If more instructors are present it is optional to divide the teams into two platoon nets with an instructor on each in order to speed up the exercise.

Once all reports have been completed students return to the starting point.

Make notes of improves for each call sign and evaluate when the call sign has returned.