Author Topic: Command and Control - Radio Silence  (Read 5908 times)

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Offline Chris Pook

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Command and Control - Radio Silence
« on: January 23, 2018, 17:55:06 »
Found on Facebook by Mark Bossi

Quote
Radio Silence – A Lesson in Mission Command
Contributor: Will has 6 years of hands on infantry leadership experience
While practising radio silence on a recent exercise I realised just how reliant I had become on technology. It had made me lazy and more controlling than I would like to admit.

In Eastern Europe 2014 a column of Mechanised and Air Mobile forces from the Ukrainian Army was struck by a devastating rocket bombardment lasting only 3 minutes. The result was over 100 casualties and many vehicles destroyed.  It initially seemed as if the column had been targeted with Electronic Warfare (EW) assets; a sensor that detects radio transmissions and sends the location back to the rocket battery for targeting.  This is a worrying prospect for any military commander; that enemy artillery could home in on a radio transmission. This development leads us to adapt and overcome.  An easy way to combat enemy EW capabilities would be to impose radio silence; an exercise often talked about, but rarely actually done.  Up to now in my career I had never exercised radio silence and I found the concept of not being able to communicate with my subordinates during a task uncomfortable. So, on a recent exercise we gave the enemy forces EW and an artillery capability, forcing us to impose radio silence.  What I learned was much more than how to combat EW and the technicalities of imposing radio silence, but a lesson in leadership, mission command and empowerment.

The first mission, anti-armour ambush, I briefed as I usually would with a clear intent and key timings, but also imposed radio silence. Overall the action went well and the task was performed to the same standard as it would be using radios throughout. However, the ambush was sprung on a lone enemy vehicle moving along the track.  The team understood the intent: destroy enemy armour, and acted. However, a larger column came through later untouched. With radios, I would have said: ‘hold fire,’ on the lone vehicle. More detail in my brief covering all eventualities would have prevented this. Here I discovered that radios had made me lazy in my briefing because I knew I could control it well during the action.

So, for the next exercise I made sure I considered all eventualities and briefed the commanders applying more timings and constraints where necessary. When can you break radio silence? What should you do if you lose comms? What should you do if you get cut off? And if all else fails, destroy all enemy tanks and meet back at the rendezvous No Later Than 0230hrs.  This time I witnessed several changes in the unit. I saw junior commanders making decisions, good decisions, without any direction from me. One of the teams missed their pick up and rather than speak on the radio trying to rearrange it they carried out their task on foot successfully. Other teams encountered difficulties during the mission but they knew the intent and end state and were able to complete their tasks without further direction for 36hrs of radio silence.

Overall it was a liberating exercise. It showed me that my subordinates are incredibly intelligent, capable soldiers who, when empowered, given a clear intent and detailed set of constraints can be released on task and will carry it out to a high standard without further direction. All I needed to do was trust them. It was also a relief for them not hearing me over the radio always asking for an update. Radio silence is the ultimate exercise in mission command and is tactically relevant. Try asking yourself: Am I enquiring because I need to or because I can?

https://wavellroom.com/2017/12/14/radio-silence-a-lesson-in-mission-command/
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Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2018, 18:58:48 »
Great article. Thanks for that.

Basically, that soldier has discovered the greatest wish of Canadian Naval officers with regards to American use of tactical radios: Can you you guys just shut the hell up!!!!

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2018, 20:30:55 »
Good article.

In NI we only broke radio silence for contacts, riots or other nastiness, as every patrol in the BGp was on an all informed net. If someone needed help, they got it .... within seconds in some cases. This was critical to allow swift reaction to cut off escape routes, and deal with casualties, quickly.

Having said that, it always took a week or so during the first part of the tour (minimize, out!) to break people of their previous 'radio reliant' bad habits and redevelop their skills and confidence in sound BP, and proper delegation and trust.
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2018, 10:40:07 »
The usage of radio and likelihood of being visited by Soviet Artillery, was drilled into us early on, I guess lessons relearned.

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2018, 12:33:09 »
The usage of radio and likelihood of being visited by Soviet Artillery, was drilled into us early on, I guess lessons relearned.

And the uninitiated amongst us junior subbies laughed at pictures of Soviet tank commanders on exercise communicating with flags....

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Offline SeaKingTacco

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2018, 12:55:49 »
I spent the first few years of my career in the Army, basically living in fear of a BM21 strike turning my grid square upside down, because someone got chatty on the radio.

I won't say we had awesome radio discipline back in the day, but it was better than it is now and we used to do a lot more via dispatch rider and SOPs/timings/initiative.

Offline Colin P

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2018, 11:48:16 »
https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-drones-artillery-ukrainian-forces/28994516.html

Snip: Electronic Warfare Capability

In eastern Ukraine, Hodges said, there are about 35,000-40,000 Russia-backed fighters, and around 4,000-5,000 are actual Russian military officers or commanders.

He said many of the tanks and vehicles operated by both Ukrainian and Russia-backed forces are now covered with reactive armor, a specialized type of plating designed to protect against rocket-propelled grenades and weapons other than small arms.

He also said Russia-backed commanders have honed tactics that include using drones, artillery, and electronic warfare. That's allowed Russians forces, for example, to eliminate Ukrainian mortars and artillery units. He said one Ukrainian unit that was using a U.S.-supplied radar was taken out by Russian rocket fire with surprising speed.

“The [Russian] electronic warfare capability; again that’s something we never had to worry with that in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Ukrainians live in this environment,” he said. “So you cannot speak on a radio or any device that’s not secure because it’s going to be jammed or intercepted or worse, it’s going to be found and then it’s going to be hit.”

“Certainly we have the capability to show everybody what Russia is specifically doing in the Donbas, that would be helpful to keep pressure on Russia, to live up to what they've said they're going to do,” he said.

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2018, 13:08:14 »
Isn't one answer to the problem the development of a multi-nodal line-of-sight network based on individual vehicles constantly receiving from and retransmitting to neighbours?

FM, Microwave and Laser comms and swarm technology?
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2018, 13:12:28 »
Field telephones and comm wire again...

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2018, 14:16:16 »


And a gracious Good Morning to you.....
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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2018, 21:06:41 »


Isn't one answer to the problem the development of a multi-nodal line-of-sight network based on individual vehicles constantly receiving from and retransmitting to neighbours?

FM, Microwave and Laser comms and swarm technology?

Mesh network vehicle systems would just be easier targets as they constantly transmit to maintain network connectivity. Microwave comms are useless in maneuver warfare, antennae need to be set up and pointed.

There's no easy solution because we've paid lip service to near-peer EW environment for years, and our own (Canada) EW systems are woefully inadequate to compete in that same near-peer environment.

Offline Not a Sig Op

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2018, 00:45:30 »
That was part of the concept behind the FOCA component of TCCCS... fibre optic network between vehicles in the defensive...

Pretty limiting to mobility though and unlike field wire, pretty expensive/harder to replace or repair if you had to abandon.

I figure lack of hand in hamd with micromanagement, a lack.of planning/contingencies is one of the biggest problems with improved communications...

All the way from tactical communications down to every day communications... "I'll meet you at..." has been replaced with "just text me"
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2018, 11:10:29 »
Field telephones and wire would be a cheap and easy fix. plus they are robust and last a long time.

Online Blackadder1916

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2018, 13:24:32 »
Field telephones and wire would be a cheap and easy fix. plus they are robust and last a long time.

And they can be used to give a jolt to someone's genitals.   :tsktsk:
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2018, 13:37:43 »
I freely acknowledge that I know nothing about comms and radios.  But I am confused.

Many ships, aircraft and vehicles are now equipped with Radar Warning Receivers that are activated by the impingement of Radio Frequency beams  - and I believe that includes microwave frequencies.

Equally, I could say the same for Laser Warning Receivers.  And I could add EO/IR systems.

If I can detect incoming energy from all these sources can't I detect the presence or absence of the energy (a binary proposition) and use that as the basis of a communication system.    If my Laser Warning Receiver started going  Buzz-Buzz-Buzz  Buuuuuzzzz-Buuuuuzzzz-Buuuuuzzz Buzz-Buzz-Buzz repeating, might I not infer somebody was trying to tell me something?

And while we are at it, like my USB cable which also transmits power, couldn't those same beams transmit energy?

Quote
Free-space optics (FSO), also called free-space photonics (FSP), refers to the transmission of modulated visible or infrared ( IR ) beams through the atmosphere to obtain broadband communications. Most frequently, laser beams are used, although non-lasing sources such as light-emitting diodes ( LED s) or IR-emitting diodes (IREDs) will serve the purpose.

The theory of FSO is essentially the same as that for fiber optic transmission. The difference is that the energy beam is collimated and sent through clear air or space from the source to the destination, rather than guided through an optical fiber. If the energy source does not produce a sufficiently parallel beam to travel the required distance, collimation can be done with lenses. At the source, the visible or IR energy is modulated with the data to be transmitted. At the destination, the beam is intercepted by a photodetector, the data is extracted from the visible or IR beam (demodulated), and the resulting signal is amplified and sent to the hardware.

FSO systems can function over distances of several kilometers. As long as there is a clear line of sight between the source and the destination, communication is theoretically possible. Even if there is no direct line of sight, strategically positioned mirrors can be used to reflect the energy. The beams can pass through glass windows with little or no attenuation (as long as the windows are kept clean!).

Although FSO systems can be a good solution for some broadband networking needs, there are limitations. Most significant is the fact that rain, dust, snow, fog, or smog can block the transmission path and shut down the network.

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/free-space-optics-FSO

Quote
Laser-Powered Devices: High-concentration PV cell enables high-wattage laser power transmission
02/17/2015
         
A high-performance, high-voltage VMJ photovoltaic cell enables high-wattage transmission of power via laser light for applications including remote powering of small UAVs and remote sensing.
MICO PERALES

Laser power transmission involves the transmission of power from a laser source either through free space (power beaming or PB) or via a fiber-optic cable (power over fiber or PoF) to a photovoltaic (PV) receiver. The PV receiver includes a PV cell, or an array of PV cells, optimized to convert a specific laser wavelength to electricity at high efficiencies, typically in the range of 30% to near 50%. Some uses include remotely powering unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), robotic devices, and hazardous environment or remote sensor applications.

MH GoPower (MHGP) produces a high-performance silicon-based vertical multijunction (VMJ) PV cell that enables high-wattage laser power transmission. The 3D design of the VMJ PV cell manages heat during high-wattage laser power transmission through the use of the bulk property of silicon, which includes fins integrated into the device. Here, we explore the applications and value proposition of free-space PB and PoF, as well as review the technology behind the high-performance VMJ PV cell.

http://www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/print/volume-51/issue-02/features/laser-powered-devices-high-concentration-pv-cell-enables-high-wattage-laser-power-transmission.html


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Offline garb811

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2018, 23:39:28 »
And if this doesn't drive a point home about the info our ever connected personal devices, fitness trackers etc etc are leaking, nothing will.  EMCON is a lot broader than just switching off our military stuff.

Fitness and social media company Strava releases activity heat map. Excellent for locating military bases
« Last Edit: January 27, 2018, 23:42:45 by garb811 »

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2018, 00:24:46 »
And if this doesn't drive a point home about the info our ever connected personal devices, fitness trackers etc etc are leaking, nothing will.  EMCON is a lot broader than just switching off our military stuff.

Fitness and social media company Strava releases activity heat map. Excellent for locating military bases

Wow.  Just wow.
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Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2018, 12:01:19 »
What are the odds that all units equipped with spread-spectrum frequency-hopping radios actually use them in hopping mode?  Encryption/security of the message aside, for EPM purposes to avoid being DF'd, folks should be hopping.  Even if using GPS-time to key the hop (TOD) for example in HAVE QUICK II, SATURN or SINCGARS, it is next to impossible to DF/intercept/jam a radio that is 30 to 40 dBm below in-band background noise.  Back in the days when HAVE QUICK was coming on line, I was amazed at the whining that would go on about it being "too hard" to set up, and thus guys would use discrete single frequencies which, encrypted or not, would absolutely give EW-savvy enemies a clear shot at DF'ing individual elements and building a pretty decent EOB of the 'lazy force'.

:2c:

G2G

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2018, 12:26:57 »
And on the Tech Solution front:

Quote
26 JANUARY 2018 NEWS

DARPA launches programme to improve military communication systems



Research will focus on reducing the size and power of digital millimetre wave transceivers for use across mobile platforms. Credit: Cpl. Jodson Graves


DARPA is launching the Millimetre-Wave Digital Arrays (MIDAS) programme to develop the next generation of secure, user-friendly, platform-agnostic military communications.

The programme seeks to create a common digital array tile that will enable multi-beam directional communications and help solve the adaptive beamforming problem.

Research efforts will focus on reducing the size and power of digital millimetre wave transceivers. This would enable phased-array technology—a computer-controlled array of antennas which can be pointed in different directions without moving the antennas—to be used across mobile platforms.

It would also elevate mobile communications to the less crowded millimetre wave frequencies.

Whilst there is some commercial research into phased-arrays operating at millimetre waves, that research is primarily to give consumers more bandwidth for high-throughput applications over relatively short ranges. It could provide the fast internet speeds needed when 5G mobile networks are launched.

Department of Defence (DoD) platforms, on the other hand, create communication environments of much greater complexity, often separated by tens or even hundreds of nautical miles, and move in three dimensions with unknown orientations.

“Imagine two aircraft both traveling at high speed and moving relative to one another,” said DARPA programme manager Timothy Hancock. “They have to find each other in space to communicate with directional antenna beams, creating a very difficult challenge that can’t be solved with the phased-array solutions emerging in the commercial marketplace.”

http://www.army-technology.com/news/darpa-launches-programme-improve-military-communication-systems/

Pure coincidence ...
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Offline pbi

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2018, 13:55:22 »
Very interesting stuff. At  CASC we read all the stuff we can get our hands on coming out of Ukraine, because it gives us a steer on how we should be depicting the current operational environment. It is a bit scary to think what the impact on a typical CMBG would be if it was facing a couple (or even just one...)of the new Russian independent Brigade Tactical Groups.I think that the Army is waking up to the fact that some things need to be changed in training.

What is very interesting is to see the "discovery" of things my generation grew up soldiering with: digging in if you stop for more than a few minutes; camouflage, concealment, dispersal, smaller and more mobile protected HQs;  radio silence or very short transmissions, and surviving massive overmatch by enemy fires and armour.

Russia and China never went away: they were just waiting.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2018, 18:21:18 »
Very interesting stuff. At  CASC we read all the stuff we can get our hands on coming out of Ukraine, because it gives us a steer on how we should be depicting the current operational environment. It is a bit scary to think what the impact on a typical CMBG would be if it was facing a couple (or even just one...)of the new Russian independent Brigade Tactical Groups.I think that the Army is waking up to the fact that some things need to be changed in training.

What is very interesting is to see the "discovery" of things my generation grew up soldiering with: digging in if you stop for more than a few minutes; camouflage, concealment, dispersal, smaller and more mobile protected HQs;  radio silence or very short transmissions, and surviving massive overmatch by enemy fires and armour.

Russia and China never went away: they were just waiting.

I'm impressed... you didn't mention 'Rocking Horse' or 'Track Mileage' even once ;)
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2018, 11:06:31 »
I freely acknowledge that I know nothing about comms and radios.  But I am confused.

Many ships, aircraft and vehicles are now equipped with Radar Warning Receivers that are activated by the impingement of Radio Frequency beams  - and I believe that includes microwave frequencies.

Equally, I could say the same for Laser Warning Receivers.  And I could add EO/IR systems.

If I can detect incoming energy from all these sources can't I detect the presence or absence of the energy (a binary proposition) and use that as the basis of a communication system.    If my Laser Warning Receiver started going  Buzz-Buzz-Buzz  Buuuuuzzzz-Buuuuuzzzz-Buuuuuzzz Buzz-Buzz-Buzz repeating, might I not infer somebody was trying to tell me something?

And while we are at it, like my USB cable which also transmits power, couldn't those same beams transmit energy?

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/free-space-optics-FSO

http://www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/print/volume-51/issue-02/features/laser-powered-devices-high-concentration-pv-cell-enables-high-wattage-laser-power-transmission.html

A couple of things:

Using warning receivers and the like as communications devices might be a possible last ditch part of the PACE plan, but at least what you are describing is pretty low bandwidth morse code transmissions. As well, the warning receiver is now not being used for its primary purpose: receiving warnings. When your vehicle is brewed up by a beam rider missile while you are trying to send a SITREP, you might not be very appreciative of that backup plan after all....

Receiving energy via laser or microwave beams is quite possible, and in fact has been demonstrated over the years, powering vehicles larger than "quad copters" requires kilowatts or even megawatts of energy. You also generally want your energy to be coming in a steady stream. trying to superimpose a signal over that may be like trying to send a mores code message via ladies lamp, while standing on the deck of a lighthouse with the searchlight right behind you. I suppose there are clever work arounds to all these problems, but clear orders, good training and radio silence are equally valid solutions.
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2018, 15:45:16 »
A couple of things:
...
Using warning receivers and the like as communications devices might be a possible last ditch part of the PACE plan, but at least what you are describing is pretty low bandwidth morse code transmissions. As well, the warning receiver is now not being used for its primary purpose: receiving warnings. When your vehicle is brewed up by a beam rider missile while you are trying to send a SITREP, you might not be very appreciative of that backup plan after all....

...

I wasn't thinking so much of using the actual RWR system as demonstrating that the ability to transmit and receive LOS radio energy at MM wavelength, and equally Laser energy, exists.  Also if it can be done at a slow rate of knots so that morse code can be understood it seems likely, to me at least, that it can be done at a significantly faster rate by digital generation and reception of the signal.
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Offline Ludoc

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2018, 15:58:46 »
I wasn't thinking so much of using the actual RWR system as demonstrating that the ability to transmit and receive LOS radio energy at MM wavelength, and equally Laser energy, exists.  Also if it can be done at a slow rate of knots so that morse code can be understood it seems likely, to me at least, that it can be done at a significantly faster rate by digital generation and reception of the signal.

Systems to do this already exist. The civilian telecom industry uses lasers to push data around built up areas. We use technologies like HCLOS to push data around the tactical battle space.

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Command and Control - Radio Silence
« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2018, 16:15:09 »
Systems to do this already exist. The civilian telecom industry uses lasers to push data around built up areas. We use technologies like HCLOS to push data around the tactical battle space.

I continue to live up to my unofficial motto: "A day late and a dollar short"    ;D

Thanks Ludoc.
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