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Thread: What communication gear does the dismounted soldier carry?

  1. #1
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Default What communication gear does the dismounted soldier carry?

    I'm looking for a reality check from someone recently back from harm's way. What communication (in the broadest sense) does an infantry, scout, or other dismounted squad or platoon leader carry? The list I came up with:

    - push to talk radio (SINGARS, Motorola, etc)
    - digital assistant device (the PDA/GPS gadget - civilian versions can send text - does this one?)
    - cellphone (local or satellite)
    - pyro (smoke, pencil flares, parachute flares, star cluster rounds etc)
    - flashlight with momentary switch
    - VS-17 marker panel
    - whistle
    - signal mirror
    - paper & pencil (hand written messages)

    Haven't heard of it recently; does anyone bother with the little, tin "cricket" clicker (read tactical accounts from WWII)?

    What did I miss? Is there anything here that, no kidding, wouldn't be observed in use?

    Where I'm headed with this:
    How long does it take military technology to pass from use? Why does a given tool or technology pass from use? I picked comm gear as a subset for study as it illustrates interesting continuities, innovations, obsolescences, transitions, and discontinuities.

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    I'm looking for a reality check from someone recently back from harm's way. What communication (in the broadest sense) does an infantry, scout, or other dismounted squad or platoon leader carry? The list I came up with:

    - push to talk radio (SINGARS, Motorola, etc)
    - digital assistant device (the PDA/GPS gadget - civilian versions can send text - does this one?)
    - cellphone (local or satellite)
    - pyro (smoke, pencil flares, parachute flares, star cluster rounds etc)
    - flashlight with momentary switch
    - VS-17 marker panel
    - whistle
    - signal mirror
    - paper & pencil (hand written messages)

    Haven't heard of it recently; does anyone bother with the little, tin "cricket" clicker (read tactical accounts from WWII)?

    What did I miss? Is there anything here that, no kidding, wouldn't be observed in use?

    Where I'm headed with this:
    How long does it take military technology to pass from use? Why does a given tool or technology pass from use? I picked comm gear as a subset for study as it illustrates interesting continuities, innovations, obsolescences, transitions, and discontinuities.

    I would pare your list down and make a few mods.

    Motorolas are gone, as the Army fielded the MBITR radio instead, which is FH capable/secure and links with SINCGARS. There are some brit squad radios floating around still.

    I never carried a signal mirror on me, had VS-17's on the vehicles as standard load. Never carried a whistle either. Pyro was also not usually carried on-body, except for a red smoke grenade. Given that we rarely did vehicle unsupported patrols, and the heat was so oppressive, we tended to reduce the soldier's load to weapons, comms, water, ammo, AFAK, and other essentials.

    Of course, all of this came along on dismounted-only movements. However, as this means there is no effective ECM coverage of the patrol, it was rarely done due to IED threats.

    Maybe I should have carried some of those things. Within a patrol comms are also conducted through BFT/FBCB2 text messaging.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    I'm looking for a reality check from someone recently back from harm's way. What communication (in the broadest sense) does an infantry, scout, or other dismounted squad or platoon leader carry? The list I came up with:

    - push to talk radio (SINGARS, Motorola, etc)
    - digital assistant device (the PDA/GPS gadget - civilian versions can send text - does this one?)
    - cellphone (local or satellite)
    - pyro (smoke, pencil flares, parachute flares, star cluster rounds etc)
    - flashlight with momentary switch
    - VS-17 marker panel
    - whistle
    - signal mirror
    - paper & pencil (hand written messages)

    Haven't heard of it recently; does anyone bother with the little, tin "cricket" clicker (read tactical accounts from WWII)?

    What did I miss? Is there anything here that, no kidding, wouldn't be observed in use?

    Where I'm headed with this:
    How long does it take military technology to pass from use? Why does a given tool or technology pass from use? I picked comm gear as a subset for study as it illustrates interesting continuities, innovations, obsolescences, transitions, and discontinuities.
    My caution to you is more general, that is you have to consider more than just dismounted versus mounted. The theater and the mission dictate much. Our operations in OEF in the mountains are very different than a dismount in Iraq. the same holds true for the threat: what we carry--hopefully--reflects an accurate threat assessment. Finally sometimes technology passes from use because of stupidity; I put lack of basic map and compass skills in that category.

    Tom

  4. #4
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Tom,
    METT-TC dictates, of course. I chose foot troops as that has shown the most gradual changes over time (3,000+ years is the scope I'm looking at), and one of the patterns I think I'm seeing has been most prominent in foot soldiers. Let me gather a few more responses before I get into that, so's not to pee in the information pool.

    sometimes technology passes from use because of stupidity
    Stupidity is overly broad. The specific stupidity I can point to several times from the late Middle Ages to present is the facination with 'new' combined with a short-term conservation of resources. In your example of map & compass, the 'bright and shiny' was GPS, the resources conserved were training hours (and indirectly dollars).

    Another example would be the transition from crossbow to matchlock. The crossbows of the early 1400s were functionally superior to the matchlock in every aspect, but relatively expensive. The 'new' was gunpowder arms, the resource conserved was ducats (directly in this case).

    Comm gear offers some interesting examples of success and dead-ends, like the civil war teletype, the Napoleanic semaphore, and the heliograph of the British Raj. And again, METT-TC had a big vote in each of these systems.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Motorolas are gone, as the Army fielded the MBITR radio instead, which is FH capable/secure and links with SINCGARS. There are some brit squad radios floating around still.
    On the Marine side, Motorolas are back in, and working very handily in fact. The Marconi PRRs can still be found in a few cases, like cavguy said, but their days are numbered.

    I actually went looking for a tin cricket on Ebay the other day, with no luck.

    With exception of cell phones (outside of commanders who might need to be on the line with a sheikh or police chief) and PDAs, the other items are typically found within a Marine fire team, or at least the squad.

    I will continue to carry my own VS-17, signal mirror, and whistle (the whistle is usually a prescribed item for leaders to have) on my loadout, and have done so for the past 13-14 years. The same goes for my yellow canary message book that I always go forward with.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default

    I did not see lasers (both visible and IR) on your list, and in the same category of communicating marks or designating - tracers - which are useful when working with FSFs with no NVDs.
    Best, Rob

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    Council Member bismark17's Avatar
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    Default

    I used a boating air horn as a signal for lift and shift fire for instance. It was load enough to hear over the M60s.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Good thing it fit in a rucksack. How did

    you get resupplied with air cans?

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Hazy memory

    I have read an article in the UK military press along this theme, not my field so cannot recall details. Perhaps an enquiry with the UK military staff in DC might help, or an email to the Royal Signals Museum. Paul Smyth, a SWC meber, may be better placed to help as he works in the Whitehall village (similar and far smaller to the Beltway).

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Come on! Hand signals.
    "But suppose everybody on our side felt that way?"
    "Then I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way. Wouldn't I?"


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    Default Strobes

    The small handheld strobe light with an IR cover was vital both mounted and dismounted in my Stryker company. There are also very small, 'firefly' or 'Phoenix' beacons that clip onto a 9v battery. They are programmable so you can make a distinctive long and short light pattern. (One long for 1st PL, one long one short for 1st pl 1st sqd etc)

    I know here at NPS they are working on enhanced IFF patches to wear on the uniform. Instead of just being passive reflectors like is worn today they detect certain wavelengths of light (for example the wavelength of IR aiming lasers) then, when detected emit a pulsing IR response. That would be a nice addition to a kit bag when fielded.

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    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Default More!

    Glint Tape !
    National Guard is still using Moterolla's in many cases.
    Whistle and signal mirror I have not seen. (well signal mirror is used in the "high speeds" shaving kit, but I do not think that counts)
    Reed

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    I think that you can bring a tactical flashlight. It's very great. And it's very useful for solider.
    the last rose of the summer

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Some thing like this?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  15. #15
    Council Member Blackjack's Avatar
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    Sat phones, cell phones, Laptops, USB devices, LED lights. I have confirmed reports that individual soldiers are carrying these items in sector regularly, regardless of policy, GO 1, or anything else. I knwo the USB thing is a bit odd, but it can be user to relay information...or could until they were locked out of DOD systems.
    See things through the eyes of your enemy and you can defeat him.

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