Radio Communications Refresher

To many regular readers of this blog, this may be old information ingrained to the point of second nature.  However, the folks just now getting themselves and their families prepared for what is most likely down the road, may have some questions on communication techniques if they’ve got no experience.  Bottom line, experienced or not, what follows may be very helpful in gaining or refreshing an understanding of how to effectively speak on a radio set that may be less than optimum in a WROL or SHTF situation.

When practicing with a partner or team, make sure everyone demonstrates their proficiency in the use of the phonetic alphabet, number pronunciation, and the use of pro-words.  At the end of this post there is a glossary of acronyms applicable to using your radio any time you’re practicing for, or are in a WROL or SHTF situation.


To help identify spoken letters, a set of easily understood words has been selected. Those words help to avoid confusion. BRAVO, for example, is the phonetic word of the letter B, and DELTA is the phonetic word for the letter D. BRAVO and DELTA are less likely to be confused in a radio message than B and D.  Use the phonetic alphabet to transmit isolated letters, each letter of an abbreviation, or to spell out unusual or difficult words.

phonetic alphabet

Example: If the word MANEUVER must be transmitted, it should pronounced over the air in the following manner:   “MANEUVER – I SPELL-Mike-Alpha-November-Echo-Uniform-Victor-Echo-Romeo – MANEUVER.”

If you cannot pronounce the word, do not attempt to do so; you’ll most likely only confuse the person on the other end of your communication.  Instead, precede the word with the pro-word “I SPELL.”

Example: The word EVACUATE must be transmitted and cannot be pronounced by the person transmitting.  The transmitting person would say over the air, “I SPELL -Echo-Victor-Alpha-Charlie-Uniform-Alpha-Tango-Echo.”

Number Pronunciation

Transmit multiple digit numbers digit by digit. Two exceptions to this are when transmitting exact multiples of thousands and when identifying a specific code group in a coded message. When calling for or adjusting field artillery or mortar fire, it is necessary to transmit, when applicable, exact multiples of hundreds and thousands using the appropriate noun.

Multidigit Numbers


Certain procedural words (prowords) which have distinct meaning should be used to shorten transmissions and avoid confusion.

Prowords 1

Prowords 2  Prowords 3

Prowords 4

Glossary of Acronyms

AC –  Active Components

ACTUAL – Suffix to a call sign (Ex: Romeo 7 Actual)  meaning the element leader rather than just the radio operator.

CEOI – Communications-Electronics Operation Instructions

CO – commanding officer

COMSEC – communications security

CP – command post

ATOC – area of operations tactical operations center

DZ – drop zone

EMP – electromagnetic pulse

EW – electronic warfare

FLOT – forward line of own troops

FEBA – forward edge of the battle area

FM – frequency modulated/frequency modulation

FPL – Final Protective Line

FSE – fire support element

GMF – ground mobile forces

GW – ground wire

HF – high frequency

HQ – headquarters

IAW – in accordance with

IOM – installation, operation and maintenance

kb/s – kilobits per second

kHz – kilohertz

km – kilometer

Loc – location

LOS – line of sight

MHz – megahertz

Mi – miles

MOPP – mission-oriented protection posture (conditions requiring the wear of NBC gear-mask, suit, gloves, boots, etc)

NA –  not applicable 

NBC -nuclear, biological, chemical

NCO – noncommissioned officer

OPCODE – operations code

OPLAN – operations plan

OPORD – operation order

OPSEC – operations security

RC – Reserve Components

rcv – receiver

rec – receive

recon – reconnaissance

retrans – retransmission

rev – reverse

RF – radio frequency

RT – receiver-transmitter

S1 – Adjutant

S2 Intelligence Officer

S3 Operations and Training Officer

G4 Supply Officer

SIGINT – signals intelligence

SOI – signal operation instructions

SOP – standing operating procedure

suppl – supplement

tac – tactical

TOC – tactical operations center

TOE – table(s) of organization and equipment

VF – voice frequency

VHF – very high frequency

w – watt

2 thoughts on “Radio Communications Refresher

  1. Pingback: Basic Electronics |

  2. Pingback: DTG: Radio Essentials | Western Rifle Shooters Association

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