Rural Defense Comms: TTPs Part II

In the last entry we discussed the basics of establishing our local area net.  I’ve identified one huge shortfall in our scheme – the lack of secure comms.  Continuing the comms theme in this entry I’m going to address that problem and begin to dig into some solutions.  Before this goes any further we have to discuss radio security.  A quick review of the first two basic radio operator guidelines are in order at this point:

1.  Always assume someone you don’t want monitoring the nets is listening. Practice OPSEC.

2.  At no time does anything that would be considered OPSEC be transmitted outside of an emergency situation.

OPSEC, OPSEC, OPSEC – because anything you say on an open unsecured net can be considered intelligence.  OPSEC is formally defined as: The process that identifies critical information about our tribes intentions, capabilities, and vulnerabilities while employing steps or measures to deny this information to our threats.

So how do we identify that critical information?  We establish what is called Essential Elements of Friendly Information (EEFI).  EEFI is that info which we don’t want folks outside our AO to know.  EEFI should include things like:

1.  Anything to do with security.

2. The number of folks in the AO (your manpower).

3.  Any defensive or offensive equipment on hand or shortages including arms, ammo, medical material, obstacle material, etc.

4.  Any capabilities – including the time frame to assemble a QRF, their size, assembly area, medical or firefighting capabilities, etc.

5.  Times and locations for any planned event (i.e. coordination meetings, church events, etc.)

6.  Any current or future plans including things like when an obstacle is going to be emplaced, When a hardening party (more on that in passive defense) is going to happen, guard force information, etc.

7.  Any information pertaining to food, fuel, first aid, or emergency reserves.

8.  Any kind of tactical information outside of an emergency.

Leaping Lizards that a lot of stuff.  Yup, and that’s a non-inclusive list.  I’ll break it into one easy to follow concept for ya –


Not super complicated is it?  The concept that the best way to keep EEFI out of the wrong hands and practice OPSEC is  radio “abstinence”.  So once again you’ll have to delve into the area of Tribal Politics and convince the Tribe that the number of rolls of wire Mr. Jones has isn’t something that needs to be talked about on the radio.  What about using phone lines?  Folks, the ability to remotely monitor wire comms has existed for over half a century.  It was a common practice in the Vietnam war to tap into the NVA and VC wire to get info.  You’ll have to convince folks that lacking some really high tech gear (which we’re not going to have) anything you say outside of meatspace is being monitored by someone who is probably not friendly.

It’s going to take some fundamental changes in the way people think about information to effectively implement OPSEC in the tribe and AO.  By adopting a “Need-to-know” attitude a lot of info will stay off the net.  A Need-to-know attitude is simply restricting information to those that only have a clearly recognizable requirement to know something.  It boils down to avoiding gossip or the old saying “loose lips sink ships”.  Pose this to them:  Before you say anything think – “How could this information endanger us? Does this person really need to know about this? Is there a better way to get the info to them?”  Some folks will ask “Is it really that dangerous to talk about some of this stuff on the radio?”  Here’s an example:

I’m eavesdropping and I hear Carla on the radio with her mother asking if she can go over and see Jimmy after her chores are done.  Her mother gives her permission So she calls Jimmy and let’s him know she’ll be over.  Jimmy tells her he can’t because he has a “prior commitment” until 1800 at “Kilo Four One” but she can pick him up there if she wants but to be careful of the tree in the road.

What did that tell us?  Think about it.  I know a minimum of two females and one male operate on this net.  I can assume that two are members of the same family which draws the conclusion there is probably an unnamed older male as well.  I know there’s a male (Jimmy) that is going to be tied up until 1800.  Possibly a guard rotation at a location that he used a code name for.  So I know that there is an encryption system for locations in this area.  I also know that there are likely obstacles in their AO now as well. That’s a lot of info for such an innocent conversation.  And that’s the point –  The simplest information can be used to flesh out a picture. hence:


If Carla had gotten offa her butt and talked to her mother face to face then rode over to Jimmy’s and done a face to face the info we gathered would not be in our hands now.  Maybe Jimmy’s place was too far to go and the radio call  was legit.  We still wouldn’t have all of the info we gathered.  If Jimmy had employed a little more OPSEC and not mentioned his “commitment” time frame, location, etc. but that he was going to be tied up for a few hours this afternoon or evening we’d still have less than what we’d like.   Now people are going to take the path of least resistance or “the easy way” and wanna play GI Joe with the Kung-Fu grip on that mic.  If you hear them doing it it’s probably a good idea to tactfully break into the conversation and remind them about OPSEC.  Don’t be an ass because you’ll just piss people off.

So how can we use the radios without letting everyone know all of this info?  Truth be told you’ll have what are called “spillages” (information leaked that shouldn’t be) – expect them.  The damage done can be minimized by some  conscious thought and following some common sense rules.  Things like:

1.  Thinking about what you’re going to say and the information you are going to pass before you key that mic.

2.  Keeping information as generic as possible i.e. “being tied up” and “down the road” are good terms.

3.  Never transmitting a list of anything.  No rosters, shopping requirements, ammo on hand, nada.  Lists are nothing  but raw intelligence.

4.  Minimize the transmission as much as possible.

5.  Use prowords, callsigns, and any adopted encryption methods.

6.  Employ a need-to-know attitude (keep gossip in check).

Yup, this is all fine and dandy but what about an emergency?  That’s a whole different ballgame.  You can contain spillage over the emergency net by having clear plans built and briefed in meatspace.  I’m going to cover those types of emergencies in their respective areas (i.e. active defense).  All of this leads to one theme:  You want intel to be a one way street running in your direction.

Next up I’ll jump into some basic encryption methods to pass info and explain why they may or may not be such a good idea.

About Treaded

Semi-retired career and contract troop. I own and maintain my own small ranch out here in beautiful rural America.
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