The following is an entry from my personal radio training notes. I keep a file with training notes after every training event I do, even the ones I do by myself, to keep track of lessons learned and take a closer look on how I can improve. I hope some of you can benefit from my experiences.
“Learn from the mistakes of others, you cannot possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.”
– IDK, some random motivational poster probably.
Communicators: Me, anonymous patriots
Transmissions Type: UHF (70cm) SC Voice
Antenna(s): Stock stubbies
Location: G-Camp, woodland environment w/hills
The first, a night raid, I was a team leader communicating with another team to hunt enemy spotters. At one point I was unable to hear the other RTO’s voice, but could hear him key out and I believed that he could hear me. I then told him to communicate by breaking squelch once or twice to answer yes/no questions. This crude method worked for the rest of the exercise. It turned out that my volume knob got rubbed during movement and turned all the way down. Unfortunately, the lack of communications combined with some rash decisions all around led to a friendly-fire incident (with blanks) and we failed the exercise.
We conducted a second night raid to improve on our failures the first time through. This time another student led the team with his radio, and I had mine on as the backup radio operator. During the patrol I occasionally had to relay information to my team leader, who was having difficulty hearing through his Peltor-style headset. At the final assault position, the other team’s radio battery died, and they sent a runner to my team leader and they took his radio. I then assumed the role as the primary RTO for my team leader. Comms were back up and we completed the raid successfully. OpFor noted that they heard us only because the other radio, running as a handheld, squawked occasionally.
On day 3 we conducted a daylight raid, during which I was again a team leader. Comms were good the whole time, the only issue was that the other team leader hot-mic’d a lot. He was using the stock earpiece and lapel mic with the radio clipped onto his belt, no pouch.
Side note, twice I accidentally activated the FM radio mode, rewarding myself with “Smells like Teen Spirit” getting blasted through my headset.
Corrective Measures: I will now use tape on the volume knob of the radio to prevent the volume going down. I will look into disabling the FM radio mode using CHIRP. I will keep an extra radio battery in a ziploc bag in my radio pouch so I don’t have to worry about it dying on me. I will always use a pouch to prevent hot-mic, and I will always use a headset on a patrol to keep noise to a minimum. It is always important to fully test any new communication equipment (I.E., a new headset) to ensure that it is both compatible with your equipment and practical to use.