Back to Basics: Data Books and What Should Be in Them

20151028_155114Nearly two years ago, back when this blog was in its infancy and I was getting into my writing groove, I posted this regarding the importance of Data Books and especially why a Survivalist or Right Wing Malcontent should take the time to compile them.

Why Should I Take The Time To Bother With All This? Because, as with everything else, having a handy-dandy back pocket reference to whip out makes recalling critical info easy. If you’re of the mindset that everything as you know it will be the same when you’re shivering, exhausted and afraid, you’re absolutely wrong.

I had a soldier who stepped on a toe popper in Afghanistan. What’s a toe popper? A small IED placed to kill or maim a small group or lone bubba. We were absolutely spent- a 15 mile movement through the mountains, up and down, all night- and boom, he was down. You don’t think at that point, you default to your highest level of training. Time to treat and send up the 9-line…which was the easy part, because it was already laid out. I had not only memorized the 9-line MEDEVAC report on two previous deployments but had written many- and yet I defaulted to the notes. Because I couldn’t think at that point, with the training taking over and the data book filling in that gap.

For our common purpose, there’s a ton of data that could be included that goes far beyond simply what was listed previously (although that stuff is absolutely critical) such as infrastructure information. At some point, especially if you make it to the what comes next phase, a person or group can benefit greatly by understanding things that most fail to ever consider- such as runway distances for differing types of aircraft. This might just be incredibly important, especially since Logistic Supply Areas (LSAs) and Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) require airstrips of differing sizes to support cargo aircraft. For example, a fully loaded C-130 needs ~3,000 ft, while the old C-23 Sherpa requires ~1,850 ft. What about an Antonov? Such data is critical to a ground commander needing resupply and conversely to the rebel attempting to map out his enemy capability.

You might also want the common aviation band frequencies (108-137mHz, AM mode) and if your equipment is capable of supporting that need. One should take healthy notes on local capabilities from this site. If you think this data is simply going to materialize later on, you’ve got another thing coming. On that note, you should probably have the different band allocations mapped out, since under duress it’s difficult to remember but might give pointers as to what type of signal you’re intercepting. Maybe mapping out the potential LZs in your AO by knowing the common requirement for differing rotary-wing aircraft in use by potential OPFOR or FREFOR (for example, each UH-60 needs 100sq. meters by doctrine) and what frequencies do they use to coordinate with ground troops? How about how to set that LZ up? It will be important for both you and them, I promise.

Oh, you think you’re gonna take on any potential OPFOR and not have working knowledge of this stuff? Ok. Good luck with that. Just like thinking you can thumb through a Ranger Handbook and be good to go- No go, stud. There’s more to it and work to be put in. So things are heating up at home and abroad, maybe a foreign invasion seems no so unlikely at some point, even under the guise of peacekeeping. No forces operate long unsupported. It might be a good idea to review this from a while back again while updating your files. An if you don’t have the Report Formats written down and at least practiced once in a while, you’re behind the curve.

 Bravado does not equate substance.

24 thoughts on “Back to Basics: Data Books and What Should Be in Them

  1. NCScout, I did it brother. General ticket acquired. Made my first QSO to a guy in Ohio with a homebrew 20m dipole hung in an inverted vee tied off between my truck and tractor. Building a logbook is now added to the list.

    1. No, you’re right. It should have read 100m; that’s what I get for posting before coffee. One UH-60 needs 100×100, unobstructed.

  2. PsyOp

    Most excellent advice…

    My buddy is an instrumented rated pilot rated for props & jets, and tells me how they, pilots, refer to their manuals/books all the time. There is so much to track, and having it written down w tick boxes, etc., is a godsend.

    Personally, and professionally being in IT, i keep log books, notes, SOP’s and the like, this way i don’t have to recall what i did last on the server/firewall/network, i just refer to said book.

    For my newbie commo systems, i make copies of all kinds of manuals, notes and pics, on my set ups, what worked (grey line NVIS qso) and what didn’t.

    My shelf is full of printed out and bound material, to refer to and keep me on track.

    Being the hi D, OCD fellow that i am, i like and need systems, frameworks from which to work, knowing that things will, do and have, changed, but at least i have a baseline to refer to and work from.

    Once again, thank you for the real world working knowledge, gleaned from actual experience.

    Mr. Murphy is a hell of a teacher….


  3. Gardener

    Durability of the binding and the pages would be of utmost importance. What are your recommendations for brand and style of the book?

    Thanks for all you do. And the comments, too!

    1. Write-in-the-rain 5×7 field notebooks. Indestructible and the green and tan versions have basic report format templates in the back, along with several other great references.

      I’ve got a number of them from my trips overseas. A recent class got to thumb through one of my old ones to get an idea of what they should look like.

    2. Don’t forget military Flight Crew Check List notebooks: two vinyl covers, 3 to 5 1″ (or larger, if you need it) openable notebook rings, and 25 5.5″x8.5″ near-indestructible vinyl pockets. If you pre-load one with cards, you get 50 checklist sides, templates, info pages, map sections, etc.

      I’ve seen one helluva lot of squared-away squad leaders, platoon sergeants, and company-grade officers who all figured “If it’s good enough for the aviators and crew chiefs, it’s good enough for me”, and got one any way they could.

      Now, with the internet, you can only find them about a dozen places, brand new, mil-spec, along with all the add-in packets of additional pockets you want.
      Including on Amazon:

      Some white gaffers tape and a sharpie, and you can label different books for different topics/purposes. Bigger rings and more refill pages, and you can make one as big as you need.

      1. And along with #2 pencils, some china marker grease pencils, and a Fisher Space Pen, and a handkerchief or half a washcloth for a wipe rag, and you’re damned near bombproof.
        (Some things should be done in ink, and others should be eraseable/wipeable.

        And, if appropriate, something to put it all into:
        (There’s a reason those things have survived, nigh unchanged, for almost 100 years in the .Mil.)

  4. Pingback: Brushbeater: Data Books & What Should Be In Them | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  5. Badger

    It’s a great practice; I’ve both done it (in uniform, follow-on career, or as a pilot), as well as relied on it when things were heading very south. My “data” book on comms (as well as almost anything else), is of the size that typically fits in the old field jacket pocket. Not that they all need to be on person but, damn,.that kinda shit sure packs well. Great reminder posting. Thumbs-up & thanks.

    One nit. Avn freqs mentioned in para 5 are not AM mode. (I totally get the insufficient coffee thing, lol)

  6. S6cnrdude

    I’m enjoying reading what others are doing in this regard. For my day to day gig, I work in a field very closely related to IT (IOM printing, copying, scanning, fax equipment). I record every call I do (mostly break/fix calls) on paper to include the details of the call such as any parts used. I can very quickly refer back and see the basics of what I did as opposed to looking in our automated system. It has helped me countless times.

    Is this data book similar to what we used to call a smart book? Back in the day, my smart book contained MOS specific data or possibly mission specific data.

    Also, the Army used to publish small common skills books and MOS specific skills/tasks books that were small and packable.

  7. Joe

    Leave a blank white page(the thicker the better) in the see-thru sleeve, and with a china marker you have a small white board for notes(or maps). Always write freqs down……ALWAYS.

    An intel weenie called it his “paper brain”. (his notebook) I write everything down, step by step. Photos or screenshots are even better.

    My MTP checklist was 3″ thick when I got out. Probably weighed 2 pounds.

    Accumulated wisdom, priceless…………………….

  8. Pingback: Brushbeater: Data Books and What Should Be in Them – Lower Valley Assembly

  9. serger

    Years ago when I was a good little squid, we used to use the green GI memoranda books and put all the keywords and tricky phrases down in them. The NSN as I recall was 7530-00-222-0078. They had casualty procedures, valve lineups , containment procedures , all sorts of goodies in them. We called them paper brains. Paper brains are good to have because they never forget.

  10. Mike Hohmann

    I gotta have 1) radio frequency data, and 2) ranging data for various optic/rifle combinations or I’m outta business! About as simple as that! There’s more, but those items jump to the front of my mind in an instant… location co-ordinates…

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