I want to relate a story concerning a real life FTX where one of the leaders wanted to make a point concerning communications. The exercise parameters were in place and the goal was to secure a perimeter and ensure no insurgents made it through. Communications was the key that made the exercise fail and that was the point one of the commanders wanted (needed) to make.
The group had handhelds with assigned frequencies for the exercise. The commander gave those frequencies and another handheld to the man playing the insurgent. As the insurgent listened to their compromised communications, he was able to track the perimeter guards. When he made his move to breech the perimeter, he keyed his handheld to transmit which effectively locked down anyone else being able to transmit.
That is how easy it is to overcome a Baofeng based system. How do you know what frequencies are being used by an approaching enemy? You buy a scanner.
I was invited to participate in a group’s training nearby where they decided to buy Baofengs instead of the frequency hopping DTR 550s recommended by a communication’s expert. This group knew the risks but were misled by bad leadership. I was invited to participate and was planning on going to play the insurgent role. With a handheld scanner and handheld radio to shut down their communications as noted above. After due consideration, I did not go. I cut off most contact with this group for several reasons but mainly I consider them to be a security risk in the future.
This is the last story concerning another FTX. This FTX was similar to the first FTX above: secure a perimeter against insurgents. The difference was they listened to experience and had DTR 550s. I was discussing this with one of the people who would be playing an insurgent prior to the start of the exercise. I told him the solution was to “steal” one of their DTRs before the exercise started. Ten minutes later, he came back with a big smile. When the exercise started, it did not take long for them to realize that their communications were compromised since the DTR was programmed to receive all of their transmissions.
Points to consider:
- Baofengs are not secure and will get people killed in a real life situation.
- Secure communications includes securing your equipment. If one DTR is compromised, all DTRs in your group must be reprogrammed.
- People love to argue for their ignorance. Recognize that trait when you are qualifying your leaders.
- The hour is late. It may be too late to coordinate communications now but what choices do you have?
- Download and print manuals for radios of all types. You never know what you will find on the battlefield.