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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Grid Down Communications | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Grid Down Communications

Can you hear me now? The answer is yes. During a grid down situation, if you choose to use 2 way radios, any sophisticated threat can hear you. The people you are trying to remain in communication with may not be able to hear you for any of several reasons, but if your signal is within range of a threat asset, they can hear what you are saying. Even worse, if you are able to get encrypted radios and you have the equipment needed to encrypt all of the devices in your network, the threat can still use your radio traffic against you. Often times, there is no need to know what is being said, just that something is being said. If they can find the signal, then the source of the signal can be found, which is you. All of this does not mean that you cannot use radio communications during such situations. It simply means that you need to be aware of the risks you take by using radio communications and limit their use.

Beyond limiting the use of radios, there are alternative means of communication that can be used during a grid down situation. We are going to look at these methods of communications and explain when to use them.

One Time Pads
One time pads were developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This is a very secure form of communication that relies on a true random encryption. The reason this method is so secure is because there are two identical pads: one for the message sender and one for the receiver. These pads have no equals in the world as they were generated randomly. The sender takes the top sheet from the pad, writes a message out and encodes it according to the code on the sheet. The receiver reverses the process to read the message with the identical sheet from his pad. Both parties destroy the used sheet, thus destroying the only coder/decoders available for the message. The problem is that the two must either meet face to face at some point, or one drops the message and the other comes to pick it up later. If the message is intercepted, both parties destroy the cipher pad and move on, keeping the message secure from unwanted eyes, but keeping it from wanted eyes as well.

Semaphore is a very old form of communication that usually refers to the use of flags. Anyone in visual range can locate the source of the signal, which is a potential downfall. Another downfall is that if the same codes are used for any length of time, it can be decrypted by the enemy or given up by a captured team member. The benefit of this is that you can communicate with several units at one time and in real time. For this, I preferred to create a code system for colored glow stick, or chem lights, that are launched into the air with a high powered slingshot or from a bow. Another benefit of this method is that, with proper precautions, the detectable range is much less than that of radio comms.

Hard Line Phones
Hard line phones or field phones, as they are often called, are great because there is no unsecured signal that can be intercepted. The downfall is that you need to have enough wire to link each phone together and an enemy can splice into this wire and listen in. Even without listening in, the wire can be traced back to each location, giving up field positions. As far as voice communications go though, this is the most secure.

Message Runner
The last logical form of communications that comes up is the message runner. This is an individual who moves from one location to another to deliver a message. The runner can take written messages to be delivered, or (s)he can remember the message. If the message is written, it may be recovered by unwanted forces should the runner be captured. Likewise, if the runner is captured and the message was memorized, it can be extracted during an interrogation.

To increase the security of your communications, you can combine methods. My favorite is to make several one time pads and have a runner to distribute encoded messages. If one location is taken over, all locations destroy their one time pads and new ones are made.

No matter that method used, you should always have fall back methods that can be employed in a short matter of time.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Seth Belt

Seth grew up in Southern Arizona before joining the U.S. Navy. While serving in the Navy, Seth was an anti-narcotics operator and an anti-submarine operator for 5 years. He was lucky enough to travel to many of the Central and South American countries, as well as visiting many South East Asian nations and islands. One of Seth’s greatest joys from his time in the Navy was teaching new Sailors firearms education and safety. After leaving the Navy in 2010, Seth returned to Arizona and had a rough time learning how to be a civilian again, often working jobs that could barely pay the bills. After going to school, Seth became an Emergency Medical Technician in the Phoenix Valley, where he now lives with his wife and son.His areas of knowledge cover military, firearms, and emergency medicine.
Seth Belt

2 thoughts on “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Grid Down Communications

    1. Sorry for the late reply. This somewhat depends on what you want to use them for. A handheld will not be of much use as a “base station” radio. You do want to limit the power, in general, though to reduce interception of transmissions. I like anything that is made by Baofeng, when you factor in costs. The link at the bottom is the radio that I use and have found them to be good for the price point. You are supposed to have a HAM license to operate them, however.


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