Basic Radio Communications

August 6, 2013 sliabh MilSim Tactics

From Klex:

Good radio communication is one of most significant role during game. It will help HQ to coordinate units operations and will help teams achieve appointed tasks. The distance/hill/woods will make clear communication almost impossible that is why 100% radio discipline is necessary.

To comply with radio discipline you should:

  • Avoid chit-chat and use nonverbal communication instead.
  • Do not change assigned channel (if has to be done for any reason contact HQ first).

Phonetic Alphabet

Use NATO communication code. Most players are familiar with it, if not it will be your chance to learn something new and what can be used in future games.

0-9 (9 is niner)

Radio Communication Protocol

It should be  KISS (keep it Simple and Short). There are a host of specific words used to aid in communication or corrections. Below is a list of these terms, their definitions and, sometimes, examples of their use.

  • BREAK: This term is used to separate different parts of a message. Instead of saying “Out”, when a conversation is done, he might say “over. Break. Break.” This lets the listeners know that, while one conversation is done, the same sender is about to initiate a 2nd conversation and as such is not releasing the channel for use by anyone else. It is also often used when someone is attempting to interrupt a conversation. Sometimes emergency information comes in and someone might take advantage of a pause to break in with critical information.
  • CORRECTION: Literally means: “There is an error in this transmission and I will start again with the last work or term that I said correctly”. Usually used when spelling out locations or directions.
  • I SAY AGAIN: Means that you are about to repeat something. The reason “repeat” isn’t used is that has a very specific meaning in artillery fire. It means “fire again same location”. Obviously, this could have tragic consequences if someone was, for instance, saying “Cease Fire, Repeat, Cease Fire” which would literally mean: “Stop firing, fire again same location, stop firing”.
  • MESSAGE (Follows/Ends): Used to designate the beginning and end of a specific message. For instance: Message Follows. Strategic Command authorizes use of force to secure area of operations. Message Ends.
  • OUT: This is the end of this exchange. No answer is required or expected.
  • OVER: This is the end of my transmission and I am waiting for your response.
  • RADIO CHECK: What is my signal strength and clarity?
  • ROGER: I received your message and I understand.
  • SAY AGAIN: Please repeat your last transmission, I did not understand.
  • TIME: The following is an expression of time and/or date.
  • WAIT ONE: I am pausing for a few seconds.
  • WAIT OUT: I must pause for longer than a few seconds. I will call you back when I return.
  • WILCO: I received your transmission, I understand and I will comply
  • CEASE FIRE: Stop firing all weapons.
  • FIRE: Fire on designated targets
  • FIRE AT WILL: Select and fire on targets of choice
  • WEAPONS FREE: You are authorized to use your weapons.
  • WEAPONS HOLD: Only fire if fired upon.
  • WEAPONS SAFE: You are not authorized to fire.
  • FLANK: The rear/side of a unit. Also used as a verb “to flank”, meaning to move where you can fire on the side/rear of the target
  • BOGEY: An unidentified unit.
  • TANGO: Terrorist. Generally a target.
  • FRIENDLY: A unit positively identified as being on your side.
  • ENEMY: An opposing unit. A target.
  • OPFOR: OPposition FORce. The enemy.
  • GO LOUD: Operational silence no longer needed. Units may open up with loud weapons and make other noise/light.
  • INBOUND: Coming towards us
  • OUTBOUND: Going away from us.
  • (number) O’CLOCK: A direction expressed based on the direction a person is facing being 12 O’CLOCK
  • ECHO ECHO: Escape and evade. Generally used when an organized retreat is no longer possible. Tells units that they are no longer expected to fight as a cohesive unit and they should break contact and evade the enemy.
  • RALLY (at): Meet at a specific location, usually pre-designated as a “rally point”.
  • CONTACT: skirmishing or fighting with the enemy.
  • BREAK CONTACT: Maneuver units to stop actively fighting the enemy. Pull back from the enemy and stop fighting. Not always a retreat. Often used to allow Close Air Support or Arty to hit an enemy or delay while reinforcements arrive.Often used to have fighting elements fall back to secondary positions, reorganize and reengage the enemy quickly.
  • RETREAT: Break contact and attempt to maintain that break. Generally used when the enemy has the upper hand and one wishes to preserve as much of your fighting force as possible.
  • AMBUSH: To attack from a prepared location that allows friendly elements to concentrate their fire to decimate the enemy when they are unawares. Often misused to describe simply surprising the enemy.
  • VISUAL: Able to directly see.
  • MIKE: Meter.
  • DOWN: Dead, out of action. Example: I’ve got 3 down and we’ve still got significant contact. Or: Opfor has 2 down and one maneuvering to our flank.
  • DRY: Out of ammunition
  • RADIO DARK: Do not use the radio unless instructed otherwise.

Example of Radio communication

Starting communication

  • Press PTT on your radio and wait for at least 1 second before proceeding with the message. Make sure that recipient is in range.
  • Format of the message is very important, Start with the name or the call sign of the recipient/s followed by your own. Eg. Calling single unit:

“Bravo: Tango this is Bravo, Tango this is Bravo. Do you copy?”

Expected response:

“Tango: Bravo this is Tango. I can hear you, go ahead.”

  • During conversation both sides should keep using the call signs during communication.
  • Interrupting conversation: After one side is finished transmitting allow 2 seconds before proceeding with the response. This is to enable any other unit to interrupt the conversation. E.g.

“Bravo: Tango this is Bravo……”

“Sierra: Tango this is Sierra, Interrupt.”

“Tango: Bravo, Sierra this is Tango, Bravo roger that, Sierra go ahead.”

  • Finishing conversation: Saying “Over and Out” is incorrect. Just use “Out”, and the other participant does not need to acknowledge e.g.

“Tango: Bravo this is Tango….”

“Bravo: Tango this is Bravo, Roger that, out.”


5 Responses to “Basic Radio Communications”

  • Bernie Mac says:

    Sorry lads, might seem like a small thing, but from my experience of using radios usually you would start a conversation with your call sign followed by who it is intended for.

    That way if the start was garbled or got lost in translation at least who the message was intended for would get the message and would listen, rather than it going out to the squad and nobody knowing who it was for.

    So it would go:

    Bravo Lead: Bravo lead to Bravo 3, come in Bravo 3, over.

    Or if you forgot the pause or the PTT hadnt engaged fully or whatever the case may be if would sound like:

    Bravo Lead: *Static or nothing at all* Bravo 3, come in Bravo 3, over.

    Just a suggestion, I know thats how its done by the emergency services.

    • sliabh says:

      Based on my experience of nautical and aviation radio comms, the usual procedure (and what I was trained to do) is to first state who the comms is intended for, and then say who is transmitting.

      A check on NATO procedures (here is a doc on it confirms that this is the usual approach for military comms as well.

  • kubac65 says:

    The reason for calling recipients callsign first is actually really simple. Having large number of people on one channel you don’t want to listen to everything, most of the time messages wouldn’t be addressed to you anyway. Therefore you wan’t to know as quick as possible if you should focus on the message or continue with what were you doing.

  • ben fay says:

    will civilians need radios or not

    • OpFor says:

      They don’t “need” them. But they may be useful.

      And in answer to an earlier question we have seen a few more LARP bookings as well in the last few days.

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