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  1. The three main reasons for the failure:

    Bad plan poorly executed, th Germans were better led and won the battle, 82nd Airborne commander failure to capture focus on and capture the second major bridge. From one perspective, the most disturbing aspect was the failure of the allied organization to not challenge the concept.

  2. A few years ago I participated in a couple of different UV5R ham communications. Once a friend and I about 5 miles apart using UV5Rs talked to each other and to another ham LOS about 20 miles away in the VA mountains, full quieting.

    Another time I used either the UV5R or UV82 to talk to a ham at least 30, perhaps 40 miles away on Skyline Drive from NW of Winchester VA, full quieting. 30 miles radius on 5w is a pretty large area!

    1. Although not the rule, these examples are not extraordinary. Transmitting from a hill top to a lower elevation greatly increases the range. This story illustrates why using the lowest power setting is the first step to secure radio communications. And watt if it necessary to use high power while attempting to ‘talk’ through heavily forested area, yet where unobstructed, the radio waves will travel for possibly a greater distance to parts unknown and unintended? Using the terrain to prevent this from occurring in one technique, and another is directional antenna. Get off top of the hill, and use the hill or even your body to block the transmission, or get a yagi or a moxon.

      One can buy an inexpensive yagi at Arrow Antenna. For a high-speed low drag portable yagi that breaks down in to a compact bag, go to Ready Made Resources. He should also consider offering in a UHF version for an more compact rig that would be one third the size and weight of the VHF yagi. A UHF moxon antenna is even more compact, and folds up. I prefer using UHF when using yagi’s or the Moxon type, as the size of UHF antennas are much smaller and compact, thus portable, and easier to build. UHF also does not propagate as well through pine trees. As your experience helps make the point, that is some cases, it would be good thing to limit the range. The UHF yagi not only directs, or casts radio waves in pattern ( typically at 45 degree pattern when using a 5 element yagi), but it also magnifies the the signal, which is a result that is not necessarily beneficial. Use only one watt if possible through a yagi. UHF is better also for the reason that this magnified signal will more likely to be attenuated (quieted, reduced) by the surrounding pine forest. In a deciduous forest, a UHF signal may actually travel further that VHF. This is why surveying your AO (Area of Operation), seeing how far, or not, or where your radio will propagate (talk), is necessary. We will want to know how radio waves will propagate inside and outside of the AO.

      Secure communication strives to ‘talk’ to only certain stations that are often close by with out being heard by others. This runs counter to the general goal of Amateur Radio that attempts to ‘talk’ to as many contacts as possible, as far away as possible.

  3. RTL-SDR receiver dongles can provide a powerful and inexpensive SIGINT capability.

    One RTL-SDR can act as a spectrum analyzer to detect transmissions with a waterfall diagram to track over time. Transmitters, including cell phones, can be detected up to several miles away with the right antennas and amplifiers.

    Two or more can be used for radio direction finding and passive radar:


    1. Yep! One can get a rough bearing using only one as well. A topo map helps narrow it down more. And one can see very weak signals before they are strong enough to be heard. Particular radios modulate differently, and will have narrow or wider band widths, and secondary harmonics and such that create a ‘finger print’. If the superb Kenwood is being used as opposed to a nasty Baofeng, I would assume they guy on the Kenwood is has got better stuff than the guy with the Baofeng! See how that works! I’ll be more interested in the guy with the Caddy, than the guy with the Yugo.

      Monitoring traffic helps determine who is who in the zoo, and who I had better put eyes on to gauge the threat. This will help drive my defenses. Without this inexpensive, low risk and generally easy intelligence resource that is signal intelligence, we are deafer and dumber and more vulnerable in an attack. It is also an opportunity to remove the all important element of surprise from the enemy tactics, and even to blunt or stop the attack by jamming their radio comms.

      1. Here is some old ASA wisdom for you: Without a second line of bearing, there is almost always “front-to-back” ambiguity, especially when using loop antennas. Remember: One plotted azimuth line is just a line of bearing (LOB) that goes in two directions. Plotting a second line of bearing is a “cut”, and only with a third line of bearing do you have a “fix.” And even that fix has circular error probability. (Actually, an ellipse.) I used to do this stuff for Uncle Sam.

        1. Is this, a possible improvement over the loop antenna, and a single LOB? Using the a directional antenna design with a high F/B ratio that would reject, or better ignore the ” front to back ambiguity”. A topo map may also help deduce the more likely location, and patrol sent out. Yes, it would be best to have a second station to assist, and it could be deployed if not already in place. Finding ‘talent’ is difficult tho. What would a practical good distance between two stations to produce good a “cut” be? And then a fix? We have to be able to do this in an expeditious manner. There might not be a second chance.

          No one has every paid me to learn this stuff, so there are certain holes in my education, as there is in most knowledge bases.

          1. For nearby groundwave transmissions a baseline (distance between intercept sites) of just 6 to 10 kilometers would be sufficient. But for distant signals (at the extreme range of NON-skip VHF, then a 25+ mile baseline would be best. Skywave HF (NVIS) is of course just about impossible to DF without a chirp sounding radar (to measure ionospheric conditions) and some very sophisticated software. I can’t go into the details of some of the strategic systems that I worked with (TS-Codeword classified), but suffice it to say we were doing deep DF hundreds of miles into bad guy territory and we therefore needed a VERY long baseline.

        2. 6 to 10 ‘klicks’ (kilometers, 1.6km = 1 mile) is doable, yet out of the realm of possibility at this stage. I will strive to expand as the situation might allow. Already have the gear, but need the help as well…. For the time being, and please correct me if I am waaay off, as a solo station, a rough bearing is probably I’ll get, so in lieu of appropriate means, I could optimize by using a 7+ element yagi and simply follow that bearing should it be interesting enough. If the signal and bearing is likely to be well outside the AO, then the threat is lower.

          I am well read on NVIS, but unfortunately have found no one who wants to play. The local Hams do not care about this kind of thing… sad. It is exactly what is needed around here. I am very happy to have your authoritative opinion on the actual difficulty of DFing NVIS. Most could only speculate, and would use terrain features to break up the ground wave, and hope for the best. This all the more will strengthen my argument. It’s time may eventually come, but it could perhaps be too late, when the need is suddenly perceived!

          Although 160 meters is difficult to use, I believe it would be even more obscure, and the toughest to DF, even with the modern equipment. Used at the break of dawn, or at sunset, when the D layer is evaporating to the either the west or east, would greatly limit interception as well, satellite or otherwise, but not the ground wave. Yet we know how to limit the ground wave with terrain features that we happen to have plenty of, around here. Using ground wave locally during the daylight hours on 160 meters, when the D layer gone and there is no possibility of any skywave , could also be an advantage…
          FYI, for others, 160 meter NVIS antenna is very easy, and inexpensive to set up. Use 72 Ohm cable TV, and make a dipole at a comfortable and safe height of your common ladder height, and you’ll be in business. Use stronger 14 awg, or heavier wire that will not break.
          18 awg will handle 100 watts, but may not last long in the wind without good support. There are better configurations, but this would get you in the NVIS game. Steel wire coated with copper like the phone company uses, is the strongest (or WD-1 field phone wire), and electric fence wire, although not isolated, and perhaps a bit noisy, is the least expensive and is easiest to hide in plain sight.

        1. Thanks! This just answered the question just posed. Do to certain and exteme budget constraints, I would not be capable of ‘slaving’ the rigs together, but could I simply use a manned station?

          1. Using just one station with 4 RTL-SDR channels would give you a bearing; the signal strength and topography could isolate roughly where the signal was coming from. This setup does not suffer from the 180 degree uncertainty of past radio detection equipment using a loop antenna.

            Since preppers are usually interested in local threats after SHTF, the modest two station separation mentioned in my past post (1/2 mile) will give a good idea where scouts for the Golden Horde are transmitting – enough warning to react.

            An amplifier: https://www.amazon.com/HiLetgo-0-1-2000MHz-WideBand-Amplifier-Noise/dp/B01N2NJSGV

            Alternatively, you could have one $20 RTL with an omni discone antenna (9 db horizontal gain) and $20 amplifier (20 db gain) to alert you to a radio source.

            A second RTL channel would be hooked up to a Yagi antenna on a TV rotator. You would have to sweep to find the strongest signal, assuming the transmitter kept transmitting while you searched.

            One RTL-SDR connected to a wideband 20 db amplifier and 9 db antenna can pick up a cell phone at 1.5 miles. Using a USB bluetooth adapter with a SMA connector and amplifier/antenna, a bluetooth enabled device can be detected at 1/2 mile. WiFi can be detected at almost 4 miles – again, with a high gain horizontal beam omni antenna and 2.4 ghz amplifier. Most cell phones revert to 3G frequencies in rural areas.

            Add to that an RTL-SDR ADSB detector to display aircraft. With a simple dipole antenna I have detected aircraft out to 240 miles, line of sight.

            Any detection suite needs scanners. I would suggest two in operation at any time; one on SignalStalker (can pick up small handheld radios at 1.5 miles) and the other set to scan known frequencies / channels.

            The Radio Shack 668 is good for this, and also can record anything it picks up to a micro SD card.

            For truly remote locations, the noise floor will be lower – increasing the detection ranges mentioned above. These distance figures have been tested in the field.

        2. To Hugh Farnham,

          Thank you very much for that. I will be looking into to this. It only takes time and money… but it can happen after priorities are achieved. There is certainly an interest. I have several RTL-SDR’s, the $20 dollar variety. These dongles are a surprisingly powerful tool for the money, especially when use with the best software for the job.

  4. Good article.
    I get it. Modern radios are potentially great to get “news”. Hard wired comms are not subject to quirky propagation conditions. Food for thought.

    Could existing telephone lines be used in a grid down event?
    Remember party lines? Any concern there?

    Thanks again Tunnel Rabbit.

    1. I remember reading in a SF manual about using fence lines as antenna. Could they also be used for the field phones?

      I was an aggressor for ROTC once and we spliced into some comm cable we found in the woods.

      1. Using fencing for receiving and transmitting antenna is certainly possible if they are insulated properly. And fencing could be used for field phones, but this is an impractical and very unsecured method that runs counter to the best use of field phone. A Long wire, or a BOG (Beverage On the Ground) antenna are the best way to receive weaker HF, or shortwave signals. A fence can also be converted to a Near Vertical Incident Skywave (N.V.I.S.), or what was once called Short Skip HF antenna that stays in place, and can be quickly hooked up to for a Commo Window ( a designated period of time during a day to effect communications), and left in place for next time. or it can be used to transmit on the fly. Hook up, transmit, and git out of there. This is a way to use HF radio, or even CB radio that requires long wires ( a dipole antenna), that otherwise would make the use of these radios impractical unless one had the latest antenna technology. I certainly can’t afford that. And using basic means has it’s own advantage over high tech.

    2. Yes! We can use any wire pair, even coaxial cable. With advent of cell phones and fiber optics, the old telephone hard wire is being a abandoned. With phone lines down, or out of operation, we have an opportunity to create our own communication network, either by using old dial up telephones, or by using home brew devices that lend themselves to be used with Morse code.

  5. Back in the early 80’s the CEWI Battalions in the Army got early Texas Instruments calculators that allowed rapid calculations of signal source locations. We could provide the Division Artillery Command Post with a signal location within 30 seconds of obtaining a second, or better yet, third Line of Bearing.

    At the 4th ID (M) that caused the CEWI Battalion to co-locate the SIGINT Ops Ctr next door to the DIVARTY Fire Direction Center, and practice, practice, practice.

    1. I really appreciate this old school knowledge and lap it up. This is kind of thing we need to re-learn. It is back to basics for Bubby’s like me. It is also an example of why directional antennas need to be in our inventory. Like a bag full golf clubs, you eventually need to use that 9 iron, the moxon or yagi is critical to secure communications if the threat is sophisticated, and eventually, it likely will be. Although me may not be facing artillery, we will likely be dealing with weaponized drones. A thermite device is not hard to build. Dropped on even a metal roof, and the structure will catch fire.

  6. A complement and a criticism about the same thing. Acronyms.
    All but P.A.C.E. are explained. That is good. It would have been great if all had been.

    I relatively sure by usage you mean Primary Alternate Contingency Emergency (Plan) but did you mean:
    Public Affairs Center of Excellence
    Profession of Arms Center of Excellence

  7. For more urban environments what about the cell phone programs that allow a network without towers? Good in grid down situations(tornados,hurricanes,earthquakes,gov shutdown of communications?)?

    1. That is already in place and functioning. It’s called 2 meter, or better said, existing Amateur Radio that also uses repeaters as cell tower. The effectiveness and popularity early on, demonstrated the concept now used in cell phones. Even the military learn from the Amateur Radio example and wanted the 2 meter band. They lost.

  8. From some of my experiences as a Crypto:

    1. Spread spectrum, blank and burst and the application of APCO25 make sigint and df virtually impossible. It is orders of magnitude easier to implement these systems than to break in to them. While encryption will inhibit most viable intelligence gathering, without the other two techniques, it is fairly easy to locate most transmitters in time to provide a tactical response.

    2. Computers are very noisy RF generators. If you know what you are looking for, you can “find” these sources fairly easily.

    3. Using contemporary radio scanners in most consumer receiver systems these days, it is pretty easy to df and “fix” transmitters with virtually instant locus identification. This makes proximity alert using COTS equipment pretty handy, as almost every public entity that might seek to enter your premises clandestinely will transmit some sort of prep and go signal just before entry, even if it is on a secret, unpublished or restricted channel. Having an early warning system that tells you when someone is within striking range before they actually take action can give you a decided jump on things. We were able to df portable(low power) transmitters within a Public service band without knowing the exact transmit frequency using $500 worth of equipment back in the 80s. It has only gotten cheaper, easier, and faster since then.

    4. Beyond this, just having perimeter sensing equipment that can transmit a warning signal upon detection of the presence of an intruder at range can provide a defender with valuable response time. Such equipment can be set up on very low power in highly directional transmissions on out-of band frequencies so as to avoid detection completely.

    5. The use of near light and ultrasonic frequency transmissions for point to point comms is also relatively easy and provides some great alternatives to standard rf systems. IR emitter/detector arrays can be functional for 100 yards or more.

    There are just so many different ways to cheaply yet effectively transmit and receive these days. A blend of techniques with some redundancy is within reach of the average person, with a little knowledge to make it happen. In the us vs. them scenario, this would be asymmetric warfare deluxe.

    1. Benjamin, I would be very interested in seeing a “how to” from you concerning how to construct a device such as you addressed in No. 4. I expect that other readers would be interested, too.

      1. Think in terms of a theramin musical instrument and how it works, or more basic would be a metal detector for organics in motion. Kirlian imagry is similar, so is magnetic resonance imaging. These are all proven detection methods currently in use at some of the most “sensitive” security installations in the world, and have been around for decades as such. You don’t have to “break the plane” with these systems either. Simple proximity from any direction will generate a hit. As for the directional comms to link this to C&C, building basic RF generator/receiver pairs at very low power and collimating their outputs is old hat stuff. Sweeping their frequencies (or better still skipping them around) in synch is also quite easy. You do need some electronics background, but this is nothing a decent HAM operator wouldn’t be capable of, if they can think outside the box a bit.

        As for determining which pole of a LOB is the prime and which is reflection, setting up the detection array in a diamond pattern and/or adding a center detection element will positively discriminate the true bearing to target. We did this on board our ship in the early 80s. Wullenweber networks were the vintage DF arrays that more modern systems now emulate. But that is more applicable to HF propagational issues. For VHF and above, a simple yagi on a rotating mount with a signal strength meter will give you a basic LOB without a reflection. A phased array system like the Aegis uses would be better, but requires some active elements to make it reliably 360 degrees continuous detection. Somewhere in between is plausible development for us poor folks who don’t have a trillion dollars debt to work with.

        Once you get outside of the box and into spooksville, it is amazing how “creative” you can get. It is the MacGyvering of the comms world then, and you are only limited by your technical expertise and your budget. There are so many things you can do for cheap, you just have to try it out. It sure helps knowing what our gummits have tried and what they figured out worked. There are still some skunkworks out there (all contracted now unfortunately) that play around with “techniques”. I’ve seen where the Chinese have played with things like quantum transmissions and tachyion beams, with some degree of success. Kinda hard to detect a transmission when it literally disappears from our reality 10 feet from the transmitter, then reappears again 10 feet in front of the receiving element.

        Sometimes it pays to have a brother that is a theoretical physicist. Unfortunately, most of the time I can’t understand what he is talking about until he dummies it down for me.

    2. This great stuff. Please do tell more! I have no formal training, and my style is necessarily knuckle dragging, low tech analogue radio that is proven to be effective using a combination of techniques together. It can be scaled up or down, adapted as needed, and uses techniques and technology that would be resilient and widely available. It should be simple enough for most Hams or enthusiasts to master, and ideal for the guerrilla. It is essentially Vietnam Era radio, rediscovered and rehashed, and improved with modern analog radio.

      Addressing point #3:

      **There is an article in the pipeline that mentions the use of inexpensive frequency counters for that very purpose. Certain entities will ‘stage’ and the combination of RF can help identify them. They would used smart phones, low powered headsets, MDT’s etc. That kind of activity is easy to spot!

      ** The use of directional antennas and various other techniques can make DFing very difficult. There are low tech means, OTP (One Time Pads) and many other low tech techniques that are virtually unbreakable encryption.

      **Please do point out the weakness of this strategy.

      I would love to be able to afford the latest and greatest, but I can also optimize a MAT using similar and unusual techniques not yet revealed. Some of this is in the pipe line for editing, and will be discussed later. Please do tell of some low cost options and alternatives to the Murs Dakota Alert System, that the regular guy can implement. I would have the high speed stuff if I could.

      I mention laser and low tech light cannon briefly. A decent IR laser is on Amazon for $150. It can be used for targeting or signaling. Lower tech, is the the use of IR flashlight in a PVC pipe for point to point commo, or simply to alert. A good IR flashlight can be found on Amazon for only $12. It can be used for area targeting as well. Light’m up, and let them have it. IR glow sticks, can be re-purposed with LED lights installed, powered by solar powered walkway lights, and use as range markers, or general IR lighting in a dark spot. Use remotely, IR light greatly reduces the reliance on IR emitters necessary for low cost NV, and lowers the risk of taking fire from those also using NV, while also greatly improving the effectiveness and range of low cost NV . An IR light on a pole above the tree line on a trip wire could be another passive alarm, or used injunction with a noise making perimeter alarm, as it could mark the approach.

      Getting creative and staying creative, magnifies the asymmetric aspect that can be brought to the field, and changed in the field and on the fly. Thinking harder, longer, and out of the box to keep it evolving and unexpected, gives the guerrilla, or the prepper an unfair advantage. Please do, any and all, add to the brainstorming that can happen here, either via the comments section, or better yet as a well thought out and well presented, and as competing article, that might win you some goodies.
      Please do share your very hard to come by experience.

  9. Have you heard about solar power in a toolbox? We’ve been looking for alternative power sources and I came across an interesting find today. I am wondering if any of you have ever heard of this? I don’t know if it really works but I thought I’d check to see if any of you have heard of it. We live in an urban area and bugging out is not an option for us so we need something for power just in case. http://bit.ly/2nJ0JvC

    1. I did not stick around for the details as I can build small 400 watt solar systems for under $1000, including a 400Ah battery bank. This is a good ratio of PV watts to Battery Ah. Generally in sunny areas 1watt for every 1 Ah of battery storage, but in cloudy aread 2 to 3 watts to every 1Ah is necessary. There are a ton of You Tube video that a design to help new comers assembly their own systems. These mean you will also be better able to service that system over the long term.

      Here is a good quality, yet inexpensive system and the shipping is almost free.

      If one intends to keep the radio shack in operation, you’ll need this level of a system or more. To conserve the batteries, transmitting during high noon using low power, will allow the operation of radio even if the batteries are discharged or weak.

  10. All the technical stuff is worthy of a whole ‘nuther round. I think the important takeaway from Tunnel Rabbit’s submittal is that a little forethought and planning can go a long way toward success. But it is a real balancing act. As Patton said, “a good plan violently executed today is better than a great plan tomorrow”. Rob Latham calls out the same balance when he talks about good accuracy that is fast is better than excellent accuracy that is last. Hits count, but first hits are far more desirable than coming in second.

    In most conflicts, poor execution is a miss, good execution is a hit, and great execution is a miss. There always seems to be a sweet spot between accuracy and timing. Usually, good is good enough to win. I used to be a perfectionist when it came to performance. Then I realized that not only was I wasting effort for diminished returns, but I often ran out of time to complete objective if I tried to be perfect. I’ve come to learn that 99% of the time I don’t need to do my best, I just need to be good enough. That’s sort of the contrapositive argument to Operation Market Garden I suppose.

    1. To benjammin,
      Excellent advice and perspective. Perfection is indeed the enemy of Good. It is a balancing act. Round #3 will hopefully be soon, so as to not slow the momentum.
      We’ll throw some more at the wall to see what sticks.

      And please give us counter points to ponder. What is the easiest thing in the world there is, that one can do? Criticize. Constructive criticism is however a lot tougher, but would be appreciated. We may only get one shot at it too get it right. It is best to have someone probe your defenses to find your weakness, rather go to sleep falsely believing that it is good enough.

  11. A couple years ago I started a diy solar generator using a small truck box, a 100 Ah AGM 12 v, and two 160 watt poly panels. It also had an MPPT controller and a 2k Watt pure sine inverter. I think I was into it for about $600 with all the accoutrements, not counting my labor time. I’m still waiting (in vain I’m afraid) for the price of LI cells to come down so I can replace that AGM anchor with something portable. But it works for what I designed it for, which was mostly charging electronics, running some lights, and occasionally running a refrigerator. I just wanted something to cover the basics that I could throw in the back of the pickup without asking someone to help me.

    Living in a hotel these days, the unit is dismantled and in storage for now.

    Find a good balance between what you want to accomplish and what you can afford. That sweet spot varies person to person, and even over time.

    Doing what you can with what you got. Knowledge and experience balance against a whole big pile of equipment when it comes to being prepared. One of my favorite of all time preps is 100 lb dacron fishing line. There’s just too many things you can do with that, and you can pack gobs of it without a burden. That and a good roll of gorilla tape and you might be able to build a city! LOL

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