Premised on the advantage of the’ element of surprise’, the bold and hastily conceived juggernaut, the subsequent hasty plan of piss poor preparation, lead to the piss poor execution of an operation of huge proportions, in that made Operation Market Garden, impressive in all regards. Although I’m certainly not a military historian, one can easily take that perspective, and learn something. The 1977 movie, A Bridge Too Far [which was recently made available via Amazon Prime] is actually a great big fat 3-hour-long After Action Report, Hollywood style. The fine and honest You Tube channel, History Buff provides criticism, insights and praise.
The primary lesson of the Market Garden failure, to reiterate, is that ‘haste makes waste’, and that pitifully poor planning will result in pitifully poor performance. Getting into specifics points of failure is easy given the utter failure on many levels that made Market Garden monumental: The inability to use radio effectively, and disregard of intelligence are two glaring points of failure of that operation. Don’t let it be yours. They could have used Signal Intelligence (simply listening, collecting and, developing actionable intelligence to improve their strategy), yet sadly radio of the period was not fully leveraged in that capacity for that operation. And they ignored reports from the Dutch underground.
Modern radio technology makes both communications and DIY signals intelligence much easier today. We should strive to make the best of what we have today. It costs little, and is not really all that complicated. But it is vital, and a first line of defense that would be more than silly to ignore. It could be fatal If ya know they are a’coming, we can bar the door. Taking the element of surprise out of the attack by listening for it, or jamming it. Even the simplest form of home brew signals intelligence can blunt, or defeat an attack before it commences. And wouldn’t that be a good thing? Warning others is the primary job of communications.
Learn From the Mistakes of Others
Learn from the mistakes of others, because we will likely not live long enough to all the mistakes ourselves. Of all the mishaps that ruined that grand vision of an early victory for the Allies, the failure to communicate via radio was one of them. The details are not totally understood, yet common sense says, it was a key factor. The whole bloody mess is still debated. The British planners had not thoroughly made sure that their VHF radios were on the same frequencies, and they had another problem. These were early low-powered, low band VHF radios of limited range: 3 to 6 miles, that were in shabby order. If one radio in a relay chain failed, then the whole circuit failed, thence Command and Control failed. When Allied forces attempting to reach A bridge too far, called for help, but there was no reply. Because their Primary means failed, and they apparently had no Alternate, Contingency, or Emergency means to communicate, they were forced to improvise, or do without. They did not even use P.A.C.E. (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency) in their planning.
The Germans forces, by then comprised of some old men and young boys, but luckily had an armored division in for repair ane recuperation from the Eastern Front, also had the superior Short Skip HF radio (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave or NVIS) Bummer! No relay stations, or repeaters required. And of course they operated with military precision! Nor was the German force strung out for 60 miles.
Without PACE to structure their communication plan, Command and Control via radio, runners, telephone, or other signalling devices, and no organized approach of but one method, utter madness would predictably be the likely result. You will likely lose. The simple radio, or any hard wire buzzer, light, or any technique, a runner, air horn or siren, bugle, gun shot, or whistle can be used to alert others. Passive or active, loud or silent, it is critical to warning members of a defense team. Have several back up means and use PACE to employ those various means. Even if not secure, if things are about to get noisy, it will matter not. You will not lose tactical surprise, even if OPFORs (opposing forces) know that you are aware of their presence. But of course, if at all possible, conduct routine business the most secure way possible.
The number one way to get it done is with military surplus field telephones. Field phones that are rock solid and secure. It is the ‘A’-number one way to go. Although not convenient for the average prepper, it is not outside their capability, and well worth the investment. Radio, although convenient, has many, many disadvantages. I would much rather have simple no battery required means, and use that first, before using radio. Of course just mic clicks on a radio, before voice can be adequate. There is almost no way that could be intercepted and DF’d (radio direction found). But is it very limited form of communication.
It only takes one second of traffic for the modern Army time-of-arrival H-Adcock radio direction finding equipment to zero in on that. If more than a few microphone clicks is needed, they have you. USMC believes a good fix on a signal is good enough, if they can locate a signal source within a 500 meter area. It is good enough for artillery work. Precision is not needed for bombing, But nowadays it’ll probably a drone, or ‘raven’, or Loitering Munitions. Use directional and horizontally polarized antennas for networks, if you believe that this kind of interception is possible. But that is for another article.
Rule number one of operating radio in such an environment or any lower threat environment: Low power is your best friend. Only use enough power to make reliable communication possible. One watt on a rubber ducky antenna that comes on a handheld is usually adequate for most and with in a perimeter. If that is not adequate, use one watt with a longer antenna on a handheld, but that is probably an area larger than can be defended, but need for an OP (observation post). If an LP/OP (listening post, observation post), or patrol needs more range, step it up to 5 watts, but only for that mission, and not within the perimeter. If 5 watts is necessary, then consider horizontally polarized antennas. Patrol gets the longer antennas when they are out, but they should use the short stock antennas otherwise. And of course, radio traffic is reserved for only critical communications.
The base station will know their route, and should use only one watt on a directional antenna, preferable a UHF frequency that allows Patrol to carry the small portable UHF directional antenna, or use they can a horizontally polarized omini-directional antenna on 1, or 5 watts. Simply turning the handheld, so that it is horizontal with the ground would make the transmission horizontally polarized. This would be preferable. If more than 1 mile out then a horizontally polarized dipole could be suspended or rigged up on a pole strapped to a pack frame to provide a solid 2 to 5 mile range on 5 watts in a forested region. The base station will also be listening using a high gain omni-directional antenna, one that is horizontally polarized reducing the need for Patrol use 5 watts and a larger antenna. Base will also listen on an antenna that is vertically and horizontally polarized, and talks to patrol on a horizontally polarized directional antenna. These antennas ensure the base can hear and talk to the patrol in all scenarios.
Standard protocol should be that transmissions are less than 3 to 5 seconds, then there is break of one or more seconds, then another 3 to 5 seconds of transmission. Brevity codes should be used as well, and authentication required before continuing. Patrols should only need radio for a quick check in, and for emergencies. When entering the perimeter, a hard wire device such as field phone is carried by the patrol that would be connected to the wire on the outside. There is an authentication process, and then, permission is granted to enter. The TA-1/PT is a good lightweight choice. But it can be difficult to hear, and shouting is not a good idea. Clean the corrosion off contacts first.
And watch this: Field Phone compatibility tests, 1 of 9 epidsoes. (Take notes).
I was 14 years old when I constructed my first intercom that could be used as a field phone. Fortunately you can buy something better than a child’s contraption. If at all possible, get at least two sets of TA-312’s, or even the old Allied versions, Swedish, Polish, or other variations. Baofengs are good, yet there are many options, and better options. I use to carry a state of the art $2,500 Motorola, but I’d take a set of field phones over that any day. Brag up the radio gear, but only the serious use field phones, or the many other options first. If faced with some very smart Backwoods Boys, you could be easy pickings. Do not underestimate Bubba and the Backwoods Boys! I know these guys. And I love radio, yet as some one experienced in monitoring radio traffic, I know how easy it is to find your signal, and then find you. I could then sit back and soak up all the easy intel you’ll serve up, get to know you life patterns, and then just before attacking, I’d jam your radio. You would then have no way to warn or summon your defenses. Consider the remote possibility that one day they capture me, and put a gun to my head. Or perhaps they run into a hungry ham, a well known Amateur Radio Operater and all his gear, who is just plain starving, and needs a job.
If at all possible, develop a hard wire way, and a no-battery-required way of alerting your primary security team, and all others to man their post. Air Horns are good. Loud whistles are good. Let’s get creative. Even CB radios with a PAs (Public Address) can be cobbled together to create an intercom system. It’s better than two tin cans and a string! Get two CB radios with PAs. The radio part does not have to work. Buy them cheap at yard sales. Run two sets of paired wires of any kind to the LP/OP (Listening Post, Observation Post), or front gate. and put a, standard 8 ohm speaker, or better yet, a 12 VDC amplified computer stereo speaker, or better than that, headset at either end. Using a standard mini jack (plug), connect the wire to the back of the CB. Polarity is not an issue. Select the PA function on the CB radio’s controls, and key the mic to speak. With a second CB at the other location talking through it’s PA to the other location on the second wire pair, you now have a circuit, or a crude intercom where both parties can talk to each other. This is an example of how one may innovate. But we can do better than that even if we cannot afford a field phone today. Howabout making your own field phones. There is a YouTube video on that too. And this: Homemade field phones.
There are many other ways. But I’d betcha ya didn’t know that trick! This stuff should be child’s play. And what can be done about sleepy sentries? How would they periodically check in? Howabout a cordage in a pipe? A rope on a dope! The dope being you! Tied to the big toe, or other appendage, the Sergeant of the Guard can pull twice, and the guard answers. Sometimes a good yank would be necessary. Rude and crude can work.
Radios have their place, yet the simple and secure, even crude in comparison, hard wire or other options have virtues that are superior to radio. Even a rope on dope could be better. Even as a broad sword is crude, it can also be effective. Telephony, or hard wire telephone, or intercom, or even a flashing light on the end of a 2″ pipe, a gunshot, a poor mans laser,or a real laser, or automotive buzzer, even the most crude stuff, is superior, as it is inherently secure when hidden. It requires no channel selection, no brevity codes, short interval transmissions, no directional antennas, and allows a relatively untrained person in communication, to speak freely, and at length to discuss and resolve issues.
Hopefully I’ll have more time to get into all this during the winter. Until then, chin up, press on, and all that rot, and find new ways to skin a rabbit. The tired, yet true maxim applies, ‘the failure to plan is a plan to fail’. Although failure is the best teacher, is it is unforgiving, especially in a brutal world we will face. Use PACE in all your planning.