Lower Profile HT Operations

Take a moment and see if you can figure out what all these pictures have in common:

If you guessed that none have radios out in the open…you’d be right.

Each are on a security detail, some lower profile than others. That’s not necessarily important; what is important is that they each have a need to communicate at the small unit level, and are doing it in a professional manner.  On none of these guys do you see an HT dangling off their gear, waving antennas around like pointers, or any other Lilliputianist nonsense.

Their equipment is implemented with the rest of their kits for a purpose; and little info can be gained about them them simply by their gear other than they’re professional, they’re serious about what they’re doing, and that any attack directed towards them will be met with lethal force.

Understanding this warning, you should be doing all you can do to make your small unit communications as obscure as possible; and one of the best ways to do this is first keeping them out of sight.

Put it Away

Most of the HTs in use by many folks out there are not high on the quality list; and no, they’re not durable by any stretch of the imagination. Exposed to the elements, they take damage, will quit working, or at the minimum get lost when the belt clip breaks(because everything breaks…that’s why we tie everything down…everything) in addition to that nice alpha numeric display giving prying eyes too many clues. At a minimum, put it in your pocket or in a pouch attached to your person. Your radio should be part of your Line 1 kit as it is…it’s what professionals call a “sensitive item” just like your weapon, optics, and map. That means tied down on your body and never more than an arm’s length away when kitted up.

Relocate the Mic, Lower Your Signature

Invest in a couple of these:


They’re low profile ear mics. They’re inexpensive and can be force multipliers when the time calls for keeping a very low profile. Avoid throat mics like the plague; they neither work well in my experience nor are comfortable to wear. When things are starting to become more “out in the open”, there’s other options. Aside from the Peltor option that’s the current flavor of the month(I detest Peltors on patrol, but some folks really like them), I prefer going old school:


This is known as the TASC, or in other places the Bowman headset. It covers one ear and wraps around the head; you maintain the ability to naturally listen to ambient noise as well as communicate when need be.

Perceptions of Importance

A common meme of new Joes(er…junior Infantrymen) is that everyone wants to be the cool guy; getting a radio does that. It renders a sense of importance, and it’s hard to tell a guy who’s volunteering his time and efforts that he can’t use something. But the fact is that Joes don’t get radios for a reason; it’s one of the most sensitive items a Squad carries, requires discipline to implement properly, and it’s misuse can cause huge ramifications.

That said, not everyone needs a damn radio. Read that again a few times.

A guy with a radio may feel important, but can rapidly become a liability; ideally, in a Squad or Team setting, key Leaders have radios to communicate intra-team and to a higher element. A Leader operates the set, and disseminates information to his subordinates. That’s right, they come to him and he goes to them with information; that’s how leadership works. This also keeps a much lower electronic profile and keeps potentially compromising or erroneous traffic off the air.  Counterintelligence matters.

In a FOB or Base of Operations-type area, the Entry Control Point(ECP), Listening Post/Observation Post(LP/OP), and roving guards should have communications with the Tactical Operations Center(TOC). Ideally the LP/OPs would have Field Phones hard wired. The TOC should maintain a separate net for the Quick Response Force(QRF)…why, you ask? Because orders and the flow of info comes from the TOC based on decisions from the Commander, that’s why.

Because there’s an established Chain of Command, a flow of information that represents discipline, order, and professionalism.

Summing it up

I referenced Lilliputians earlier; for those who don’t know, in the satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels, the Lilliputians were tiny people of over exaggerated self-importance greatly bothered by tiny matters. Don’t act like them; understand there’s something much larger than yourself. Trust me, it matters.

Recent events, tragic as they are, are no excuse to stammer, posture and potificate; it’s time to learn. Quit feeling sorry for yourselves, pick yourself up by the bootstraps, and get going. I’ve had to many times, and this one has been no different for me; you honor the fallen best by carrying on. And winning.

14 thoughts on “Lower Profile HT Operations

  1. Ah yes, I cringed when I saw those pics from Burns…
    Here are some helpful hints, and if you use your creativity, you don’t need a fancy “relocation kit”.




    Or you could try one of these

    I use the method shown on M4Carbine.net and it works fine for me

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  3. Centurion_Cornelius

    Yep, NCScout, good advice. As an old gray-head, I recall the unpleasantries in various climes/places where the guy carrying the commo set was targeted first only because he was carrying that obvious/observed thing with the whip antenna. No commo–no arty–no helos–no nuthin. Visiting Team aggravated.

    btw, back then the “Home Team” had few radios; they used plain-Jane metal whistles, just like a coach trying to win the big game.

    1. Yep…there used to be a time where the Squad had a runner, and the only RTO was with the PL.

      Taking into account the fact that the PRC-77 put out 2w on a good day; and the current Line Unit radio, the ASIP, pushes 4w, the common 5W HT vastly outperforms both.

      Regardless of this fact, keeping a low electronic signature is critical. This also means not using a freaking long whip when one is not called for. Sometimes you don’t want “the most range” out of your radio.

      1. Mike Bishop

        RE: low electronic signature


        Contrary to popular opinion, the little stubby ~3″ antennas floating around on amazon are NEGATIVE gain. That’s right, kids. -dB.

        Considering the lack of space and weight, it would be wise to pick one of them up…Using the least amount of power isn’t the polite thing to do, it’s the intelligent, efficient, and proper thing to do.

        RE: every swinging Ricardo getting an HT

        Firstly, “nailed it”.

        Secondly, just a brief moment of bitching:

        If you aren’t a “comms guy” there’s not a good reason for you to be wielding a frequency-agile radio with a VFO. None. Zilch. It’s overkill. Let the kids have a monobander, or even FRS if they are to have a radio at all.

        The power is about as low as it can go, and anyone with half an idea of what they’re doing and a Baofeng can barge in on FRS and tell ’em whassup if the need arises. Hell, hand out FRS radios with the PTT circuit modified open so “no TX for you”(read in Soup Nazi voice). Use the single band radios for information relaying/order barking purposes only.

        Procedure words. Use ’em.

        PTT button. It’s a bullhorn.

        Low power. It’s your friend.

        Transmit time. Keep it short.

        SOI. Have one. And for all that is righteous in the universe do not post it on the Internet, share it on shortwave, or generally hand it out like Halloween candy.

    2. I look at it this way in the reality of today, the here and now and looming requirements. Radio’s are like every piece of technology that is not a specific direct implement a warrior can hold in his hand and use in the process of gathering timely AO intelligence, suppressing, or killing his enemy, no substitute for the one implement that counts, using your head, and sound infantry tactics first and foremost, the HT in a partisan’s hands is a complimentary tool used to efficient advantage, complimentary to those fundamentals of small unit infantry tactics. What are you going to do when the batteries run out and the damn things break?

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