The Brevity Matrix

20151013_153203In the RTO Course we spend the bulk of our time on basic skill building- operator technique, antenna types and construction, planning and report formats for sending information rapidly and accurately. It’s a starting point, covering the basics in two days. With that said, one of the common questions I get is regarding the length of the reports when they’re sent. If interception is a concern, and it always is, how do we shorten this up or obscure it to the point of being useless to listen to? There’s a few answers to this question, including going high tech/more complicated/more expensive with equipment, more efficient antenna construction for directivity, and finally, creating a BREVMAT.

A Brevity Matrix, or BREVMAT, is a randomly generated series of codes that are commonly understood by your group and shorten the transmission. In the amateur radio world we use Q codes, and 10 codes are the most widely known in both the CB and public service realms. Like I state in class, what you and your group do is up to you- if the basics are observed and everyone is on the same page, then it’s not wrong.

remote setup.jpgTactical BREVMATs are created and included in your Signals Operating Index (SOI), they are recycled each time the SOI changes (which is usually a set period of time, and for missions, mission-specific). This information can then be encoded into a One Time Pad (OTP) message and sent to higher analysis and control element (ACE) if coordinated over a region.

The following is a sample BREVMAT sent in by a very well seasoned reader (it’s much appreciated my friend, stay frosty) and a template for you to follow:



It may look somewhat complicated and a lot of work, and make no mistake, it is – but this is not an easy business and takes discipline to get right. As another well experienced individual stated in class, you’ll want to know this stuff when your life actually depends on it.  There’s a heck of a lot more to low level armed conflict than tearing off into the bush with a $1500 weapon and cool-guy kit when your only training is shooting fast at stationary targets; the people that do that are speed bumps for the well trained, unassuming guy with a 30-30 and a solid plan.

35 thoughts on “The Brevity Matrix

  1. Cavguy

    Thanks for another template. We got away from simple when we went digital radio and blue force tracker and the rest of the Jedi worrier tech stuff.

    Bingo cards, is what we called them in the CAV. I’ve jenned up some but more is better.



  2. Mike KN4FFK

    Once again, this is some very good stuff. I especially appreciate the examples you presented.

      1. Centurion_Cornelius

        All is much appreciated, Brother! ‘Specially you fielding and answering questions. It’s like when I was teaching secondary Vo-Ed welding to young ‘uns–“There ain’t no thing as a stupid question, ‘cuz you won’t have a second chance when you’re hooked to a working unit with volts north of 440 and you make a mistake.”

        ‘Bout time to realize, we are all playing “for keeps.”

  3. Brevity is good but I was trained that the fewest of anything is best.
    Thus mic clicks ruled in my world.
    Did it counter message intercepts? We thought so.

    Did it counter RDF? Little does that but it depends on where you are and who you are up against.

    I’ve used UHF CADF and Doppler RDF (DRDF) before and I can confidently say nothing from a fixed location is truly safe with two good CADF or DRDF operators working within line of sight.

    1. Breaking squelch may be secure, but it also doesn’t relay much, especially if more needs to be transmitted than a binary yes/no.

      And omni-directional transmissions? You bet. A multi-element yagi? A lot tougher. And in both cases, the skill of the operator is the linchpin. 🙂

      1. As is the skill of the interceptor, the sensitivity of his aerial array, and their receiver.
        After all it’s never about how loud you can shout, more how good the ear is that is listening. 😉

  4. Chris

    As you are back to writing I presume good news on your end.
    These latest articles are a great encouragement just coming off of your latest class.
    To anyone considering the classes
    ….,,just go! They won’t be around forever and are very affordable.
    The bbq alone is worth the trip!
    Thanks again.

  5. Cavguy

    I trained with a Giampietro for a mob on Ft Dix back in 06ish. Was in the old hospital on post. Ring a bell?


  6. My… How things have changed.

    SOI used to mean Signal Operating Instructions. Then there was CEOI, which meant Communications and Electronics Operating Instructions. A new CEOI was issued for every mission; the SOI (which included brevity codes) was included as an annex. They were of course classified documents, serial numbered and accountable (woe! to he who “lost” one — we used to wear them around our necks).

    I will say that OTPs are problematic for the civilian crowd. Back in the days they came as an identical set; one pad for the BOP and its sister for the ODA. (We wore our pad around out neck too). So, for example if four ODAs were deploying the BOP had one pad for each ODA and the ODAs had their sisters. But the use of OTPs by civs raises the interesting question, “Just who are they sending their encrypted traffic to? (I’ll let the matter drop here.)


    1. It still means Instructions if you’re going by the book, or Index. Just depends on the person you ask.

      One of the things I hammer home in the SOI portion of class is the inherent sensitivity of the plan and the need to understand how to create and brief it to your team. Once it’s in practice, it has a short lifespan and is essentially compromised when its used. Only going by someone else’s “plan” is a good way to get rolled up.

      As far as OTP use is concerned, that’s a whole other topic for another day.

      1. Jon

        Thanks for posting a great concept. Much simpler than the CEOI that we used to use.

        OPSKEDs are a useful augment to the concept you provided.

        Of course all has to be tailored to the specific operation at hand. That’s simple but not easy.

    2. LodeRunner

      I remember those days of carrying a CEOI/KC1600 under my BDU shirt well. This practice didn’t translate well to operations in Africa and the mid-East, where everything in contact with your body got sweat-soaked instantly, every time you went out. We jerry-rigged various solutions to that problem with plastic bags and rubber bands, boot-blousers, or whatever else we could get.

      I’d recommend carrying such a pad in a top-layer pouch/pocket, on a lanyard, with a moisture-proof wrap or covering of some sort… work out these details now, while the “experience” is still free for the doing.

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