Situational Awareness and Wargaming Your AO

The most important questions you should be asking right now are not the hypothetical or abstract simply naming ‘SHTF!’, rather, it needs to be rationally rooted in the MOST LIKELY and MOST DEADLY courses of action. In a meeting over the weekend, discussing the growing local antifa movement and (somewhat) wargaming/red cell-ing capabilities, the emergency services communications systems were brought up (because it is me, after all). Think on that one for a second.

Just merely saying ‘well, when the S-hits the fan, I’ll do this‘ doesn’t cut it. For starters, its ridiculously lazy. It takes absolutely no work to come to that conclusion, and the answer usually is just to buy another widget from your favorite online vendor. These views are  adjacent to the ‘mental militia‘ that normally follows, about imaginary acts of bravado and ‘saving the Union from the clutches of the commies!‘. Calm down there Audie Murphy Jr…with your tricked out AR that you can’t zero. A smarter position to take would be to put into context what actually is possible in your AO, and what targets of value could come under attack. ‘But that’s the Police’s job!’…so is fighting off the Reds but that’s not stopping you from buying more stuff.

Looking back in a historical context, contemporary lessons from outside our borders might give a better view. Boko Haram, a name you all should be familiar with, has followed a historical pattern of violence not quite unlike what we are seeing the genesis of currently. It began in 2002 as a social movement among ‘repressed’ muslims in northern Nigeria. The real goal was growth of the Caliphate, but near term, it was ‘social equality for muslims’. Eventually, after organizing years of riots and small scale civil unrest, the group killed their original leader and broke 105 of their buddies out of prison. IS did the same in Iraq prior to seizing Fallujah and Ramadi. Immediately they began attacking infrastructure, in part to cause disruption of services and in part to discredit the government’s ability to protect and provide. Critical to this was the communications infrastructure- mass coordinated attacks against the cell phone network and government radio repeater systems- forcing the Nigerian government to first protect those before it could tend to the people under attack. And Nigeria is a country that is still quite rural in the North- imagine the magnified effect on a people spoiled by instant information access.

Let’s take a step back from the cell network and focus on something really more important- public service communications. Over time, the systems have evolved from a simple low band VHF affair to sophisticated digital networks out of the need for maximum bandwidth and additional over-the-air security. But there is a tradeoff. Both Project-16 (analog trunked systems being phased out) and Project-25 (digital trunked systems now in Phase II) require a networked series of repeaters to function and is not usually able to be troubleshot in the field. If those were to come under attack, what is plan B? Do you know? Do the end users know? What are the actual frequencies they work on (this is why just entering your zip code on a home patrol scanner, while convenient, is a bad thing)? Why should you care? Because if you’re a regular scanner junkie, notice things getting worse in your area socially, and then public service frequencies begin to act strange, there might just be something larger at work. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight.

In our discussion this very issue came up for a particular area of serious concern, identifying the weak points and potential backup plan (Remember PACE??? Primary, Alternate,Contingency, Emergency? Yep, still important) all the way down to the role Amateur repeaters would play (They would be the E…a distant E, but still an E). This is where knowing a bit about about all communications systems (or networking with folks who do) beyond the theoretical end comes in handy. It just so happens the area in question has a history of building public sector hardened systems, and many of the engineers are also avid radio amateurs. Having access to simple and well-built equipment is a plus, and having a group who knows their ass from a hole in the ground is a plus as well. Of course, you won’t know any of this if you’re of the ‘I got mine…screw you‘ attitude a lot of preppers advocate, even if you do get that ham license and go back home.

Building independent, resilient communities are paramount, as well as the strongest survivalist plan, but its important to recognize that threats are more than just simplistic catch phrases. You still live in the real world, not that lustful libertariatopia, and are subject to the ramifications of threats external to you. I take people at their word- and the Left’s core, the ‘instant gratification‘ groomed social justice warriors, a manifestation of all of the fingers that threaten Western Sovereignty- are the future of their movement. They see no benefit to the current order and through willful ignorance find solace amid revolutionary ideals whose only logical end is violence. I believe them. And instead of useless projecting, caterwauling and naysaying, one should be asking serious questions about what they’re capable of pulling off. I bet some folks in Nigeria today wished they had done a bit more in retrospect.


16 thoughts on “Situational Awareness and Wargaming Your AO

  1. Peter S

    I sincerely appreciate your efforts to share knowledge. I have one request – include what an acronym means when you include it in an article. For example, what is “AO”?

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  3. Anon

    can you break it down a little further for an old fart, please. Not a scanner junkie but have a scanner (BC125AT) and a DVB dongle and upconverter that I am learning by error by failure.

      1. Anon

        got that. Also have used the RFinder to assist in finding and programming the local repeaters for 50 miles. It also allows finding public service channels. Nice thing is that is gives physical locations of such.
        Was this what you were inferring?

    1. Consider going to the FCC website and printing a copy of the detailed frequency allocations. It is about 172 pages (PDF) but a valuable resource. When you here traffic on a certain frequency you can look it up. Develops a baseline for “normal” in your area.

  4. Cavguy

    Use full wording first time it is used showing acronym in parentheses the use acronym there after. Normal military writing rules.

    Thanks for all you do, helps keep dust off of my memory banks. Just got John Mosby’s book vol 1. Illuminates what I have forgotten.

  5. Pingback: Brushbeater: Situational Awareness and Wargaming Your AO | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  6. Brad from Texas

    Timely mention, some of us hams have been working with our county sheriff on this very issue. SO has a simplex frequency in addition to their repeater frequency, and several hams have modified radios which are compatible. In a worst case, instant county-wide net with ham base stations relaying messages as needed.
    Please keep the challenges and outside the box thinking coming, excellent stuff.

    1. Thanks Brad. That’s great to hear- the Sheriff recognizing the organic advantage y’all offer is definitely welcome but not universal. Many rural counties have simplex frequencies on reserve, and there’s still the national standard MED-10 frequencies. Knowing them as relevant to your area, and being ready to step forward when the time arises is very important. Not everyone’s a shooter, but everyone certainly has an important place.

  7. Mike Hohmann

    Great information, great post, ncscout. Actually this post raises many issues that are ripe for discussion by radio club members, community-oriented groups of all kinds w/ any interest in ecomms, including smaller urban/rural networks across the country. Just another example why this blog is so useful!
    The switch from analog to digital trunked systems for public ecomms is significant, especially if you’re near major metro areas. CERTS and county orgs. could be good contacts for information sharing regarding the switch to these digital systems -good starting points maybe for status updates. I know there are many ramifications to the switch to digital trunked systems- areas I’m weak on as a relatively new radio operator, perhaps they’ve been discussed here before and I just missed it.
    Also important, as referenced by ncscout, to spend time reviewing the Radio Reference guide at ( ) -and getting hard copies of pertinent data in the right hands, maybe a few laminated copies. The online info. may not be available when needed! Thanks again! Much appreciated.

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