From Dialtone’s blog, here. If you’re not reading his blog, you should be!
“First things first; squad radios must be standardized before moving forward. Can’t talk, can’t move, can’t shoot. After squad radios, base to base communications needs to be set up next. Your group comms need to be networked using 2 meter simplex. What this means is that each team member needs to get set up with the proper gear to make contact with no infrastructure. Don’t trust repeaters, they’re great until they go down. Simplex could be challenging. Depending on group size, terrain and conditions, this can be tricky. If any of these things become a problem, relays must be worked out in advance. Depending on the size of your AO (Area of Operations) it should be possible to have a simplex net up and running.
Where to start…….
1. Try to standardize gear. If everyone gets the same stuff then everyone can help and understand everyone else’s radio. With exception of antennas, radios and power supplies can be the same for every person. This just makes things easy. Remember, we are not all radio geeks. Find what works for you team and go with it. When someone goes to buy gear you can “persuade” them with your choice. Same reason everyone uses the same ammo.
2. Program all radios the same. Once again, makes life easier in time of crisis. All alpha tags should be the same. All channels should be in the same order, etc. I am not a software guy but programming cables and software can make this a lot easier. As a side note: I think you must be able to program your radio by hand in the field. This is important if your comm plan takes an unexpected turn. Also, if you have interoperability issues you must be able to overcome them.
3. Everyone should help everyone install base set-ups. If everyone is involved under comm leader supervision, it can make a great FTX (Field Training Exercise). Also, if an individual has a hardware problem they will have a more confident approach to making repairs on their own. All team members must be able to maintain their station without support. You may be operating outside of the supply chain. It’s all about repetition. If your team sets up 6 stations similar in nature, by the 4th set up they will be proficient and be able to problem solve independently from the comm leader.
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4. Organize and maintain a net. Once the stations are operational the comm leader should set up a scheduled net. The net can be daily, weekly or whatever suits your team. By having a simplex net everyone can make sure their gear is in good working order. Also, as time goes on your operators will become more skilled at formal radio procedures. Things like traffic handling and message passing are very good skills to have.
5. Establish a written radio plan. The comm leader should draft up a comm plan that is a guide for all simplex operations. The plan should consist of frequencies, times, call signs of team members, etc. The plan would also serve as a flow chart. As a flow chart, your plan would outline what frequencies to use and when in the event on activation. The plan needs to be easy and direct with no gray areas. Someone should be able to read the plan the first time and apply it. This takes off the pressure when the heat is on.
This task can be a long process but you need to maintain team comms. If you can communicate, you can coordinate. You also must practice these skill ongoing. Don’t get rusty! You should also be checking into other nets in your area. This will help you to step out of your comfort zone. Good luck and maintain. Dialtone out. END OF MESSAGE.”