Letter Re: Radio Communications and SIGINT


I’ve been a follower of your writings since you wrote your shareware novel “The Gray Nineties“. After seeing some recent postings on SurvivalBlog regarding communications, I decided to write you.

I have been a licensed Amateur Radio Operator since 1984. Before that I was a “skip shooter” on the 11 meter band. My Army MOS was 13E. I’m presently a Certified Electronic Technician working in the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) industry.

Survivalists who use tactical radio communications, whether it is CB, MURS, FRS, marine band, or VHF/UHF ham, need to be aware of a police scanner technology called either “Signal Stalker” or “Close Call”. This is a near-field detection and intercept function that is available in inexpensive (under $200)  police scanners which allow almost instant (2 seconds or so) frequency determination and monitoring of radio signals. With handheld radios, this distance is about 1,000 feet. With high-power base stations, the range can reach a mile with the right antenna. It doesn’t matter where in the spectrum you try to hide, a COMINT operator with this readily-available technology will find you in a matter of seconds and in short order be listening to you.

Furthermore, even at extended distances, current police scanner technology is at about 100 channels per second. That means that a COMINT operator can scan through the entire 2 meter ham band in about eight seconds. I have a list of about a hundred common handheld VHF and UHF radio frequencies (including FRS, MURS, and GMRS) used by handheld radios. It takes a second to scan through them all with a regular police scanner.

I advise SurvivalBlog readers to look into finding surplus (Motorola) LMR radios that support encryption (DVP-XL or DES-XL) and the respective key loader. These radios can be programmed up with GMRS (UHF) or MURS (VHF) frequencies and used legally on those frequencies. When TSHTF, users can then turn on the encryption.

Other options include the use of Nextel/Sprint “Direct Talk”. This off-network communications mode uses frequency hopping on 900 MHz and won’t be picked up by police scanners. Motorola and Trisquare also make frequency hopping radios that operate on the license-free 900 MHz. band.