Planning your Footprint

Your “footprint” is simply your area of operations/influence/control/ability to react, etc. In short, an area where you can do something directly about things that are happening. There are many layers to this cake; it’s three dimensional just like everything.

H/T to JJS/AMRRON for posting this tool:

I’ll expound a bit to it’s uses.


A layered map planning your communications is absolutely vital to planning missions. Every wonder why the Commo-oriented folks in the blogosphere keep harping on getting your license and practicing now? It’s so you a) know your capabilities, and b) gain the experience to make the most out of them.

Say, for example, you happen to be a really big fan of CB. For you, it’s the bee’s knees. Fine; test your equipment. Get a buddy in a car with a mobile, you sit still, and figure out what kind of range you actually have. Record the data. Make a map. In theory at least, your “footprint” will be spherical.

Do this for each one of your radio systems, or in the amateur radio operator’s case, each band in your SOI(see the last post on this blog). The easiest way to figure out what does what is to get off the couch and go do it. Make a map for VHF, UHF, and HF(and what type of antenna/mode for each as well) displaying the position of the most distant contact you’ve made as the edge of the “sphere”. Some folks call this a FEBA(forward edge of battle area). Each person in your group should have their capabilities mapped as well, with a larger group-level overlay created. Why?

So you know(on paper at least) you can talk to Johnny, but not Suzie on MURS. Johnny now becomes the relay. How Copy, Over?

Now you have a guideline for your equipment capabilities. That’s knowing…and knowing is half the battle.


Where can you get to realistically? How fast? This is especially important for Scout Teams in the field. How long will insertion take? How fast can you get to a hasty extraction? What is the range of your vehicles on a full tank of fuel? How long will a MEDEVAC take? What can the Teams see within their areas? How far can they move in a 24hr period on foot in that area? Each of these during the planning phase becomes it’s own little bubble. Each of these should be added to the overlay map in your TOC with it’s own color.

This is the exact same way an AOR(area of responsibility) is planned upon the drawing board before anyone steps foot outside the wire even down to the Detachment level.

Wrapping Up

This is an incredibly useful tool. Take advantage of it; these are critical lessons to heed now that will save many lives in the fight later. Victory is best earned before the battle even starts, and 100% of this comes from an effective plan built on knowing your capabilities first.

2 thoughts on “Planning your Footprint

  1. Romeo Foxtrot

    Once again, spot on article on the “realities,” vs “theory,” of comms, etc….A local commo buddy of mine figured we could talk to each other, being only 5 miles apart, but alas, geography came into play and we could not do it via simplex 2m, repeaters, no problem…go figure…Prolly waaay to close for nvis, but we are gonna try that too…You simply don’t know what you don’t know until proven right or wrong by actually doing, for there is no try!

    1. Exactly. Perfect example- our latest brush with disaster proved yet again many things to many people, myself included. With extremely wet conditions, you can reasonably cut your LOS range down by a third, possibly even less. Nothing is ever cut and dry; thus getting out and testing your gear, no matter what it is, radio, rifle, or anything else, in as diverse of environments as possible.

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