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arajca
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« Reply #20 on: October 31, 2014, 03:21:41 PM »

A weekend won't make anyone useful in a "com geek" role.
True, but you can get them interested in the role and teach them usable skills such as setting up a station at their unit or at an incident base. Right now, most wings rely on the same handful of members to do this for every exercise and mission.

You can't swing a dead cat (though if you dig far enough in some of those containers you'll probably find one) at a hamfest without hitting
19 guys who would love to become Comm go-to guys.

The problem is they are focused on radios as the mission instead of the tools.  If you can work with them in that role,
it's a lot easier then trying to teach that stuff to members with divided attention.
And therein lies the problem with most hams - to them it's all about the equipment, not the overall picture. And I'm not talking about uniforms or grade or bling.
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Trung Si Ma
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« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2014, 03:11:31 PM »

Dan,

You are not going to get some of the people to realize that there is more to this commo thing than pushing the PTT, they’re too busy swinging dead cats.

Realizing that most people have never bothered to read CAPR 100-1, Communications (dated 26 Dec 12), you might begin your course with explaining the true mission and purpose – according to our regulations – of the CAP communications system:

“1-1. Mission. The mission of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Radio Communications Program is to meet the validated communications requirements of internal and external customers. This is accomplished by strong planning to organize and maintain a reliable, integrated, point-to-point, air-to-ground, and ground mobile radio capability in support of the missions of CAP.”

“1-2. Purpose. The primary purpose of CAP communications is to provide internal communications capabilities; to provide commanders with the means to conduct the missions of CAP both during normal conditions and when commercial infrastructure is unavailable or unsuitable, including commanders in the organizational chain of command, operational mission chains of command and special activities chains of command. The CAP communications system provides a continuity of operations capability when commercial infrastructure fails, such as allowing commanders, at each echelon, the ability to communicate with superior and subordinate commanders.”

Note that there is no mention of push the button and talk.  There is however, “…planning to organize and maintain a reliable, integrated, point-to-point, air-to-ground, and ground mobile radio capability…” and “…during normal conditions and when commercial infrastructure is unavailable or unsuitable…”, both of which serve as very good “attention getting statements” so beloved in military platform instructional courses.

The simple answer to your question is that we are also working on developing a course to train competent communication people with the right mixture of operational and technical understanding to enhance rather than detract from our mission capabilities.  Our basic believe going into the process was that CAP’s courses trained fairly good radio operators who didn’t understand that little bit extra that was needed to make them really useful and the ham radio courses taught the extra technical stuff, but didn’t teach anyone to operate competently. 

So like so many other projects in CAP, we formed a committee.

Our committee membership turned out to be a pretty good mix.  Two are IC2’s, one with multiple major national level operational event experience; three are aircrew members (one MP, two Master Observers); three CULs; one AOBD; one GBD; all are active GTL’s and all have recent large scale disaster relief experience.  And three of the members have extensive military operations center experience.  Five of the members are hams: fours Extras (two are even /20's) and one advanced)

We realized that this needed to be attacked from two axis – operations and training.

Operationally, we have physically moved the communications section into the operations area right next to Air Ops and Ground Ops and set up the operations section like a Land Component Tactical Operations Center. Seems rather simple, but you should have heard the howling from the “old guard” about how much noise there was going to be and how much those radio people were going to be in the way.  But we did it at the last SAREX and low and behold, the number one AAR comment is that this was the first time that everyone was able to track everything easily.  It’s still a work in progress because it is to loud, and those operations people really do get in the way of good communications.

Training is, as you are so obviously aware, proving to be much more difficult since the wing calendar is already getting over crowded.  Here is the outline of what we’re thinking so far:

ICUT (not only getting it, but showing people how to train and evaluate it)
Modified Ham-Cram type course (we’ve taken out the obvious ham and FCC portions and changed everything we kept to a CAP focus)
PD Communications Specialty Track Technician Level Training Weekend
Hands on planning activities for how to plan and place the airborne repeaters (this proved amazingly simple)
Hands on activities for setting up a complete comm center in a degraded infrastructure
Hands on activities for using WMIRS 2.0 communications tools
Writing the comm portions of the IAP and Wing OPLANS

We’ll be glad to share what we have when it’s done and would like to see what you end up with.  After all, plagiarism is an acceptable staff practice in CAP!

Don
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PHall
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« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2014, 05:21:53 PM »

Comm topic I want answered.  Why can't the Comm Wizards just give me what I asked for and not what "they" say I need?

Example: Encampment at an Active Military base. We have helicopter o-rides scheduled at the helipad just down the road from us.
Range Control says we need comms between us and them or it's a no go. No cell phone coverage at the helipad.
The helipad and the Encampment Headquarters are both within the coverage area for the local repeater. We have phone service at Encampment Headquarters.
So we ask for two radio operators with two VHF-FM radios for a one day event. Simple.
The Comm Wizards want to send us a half dozen VHF-FM radios and a pair of HF stations and a dozen people to operate them for the entire encampment.
They also tell us that the ISR radios that we use at Encampment are illegal too.

And you Comm guys wonder why you have a bad rep... ::)

Just give the user what they ask for is all I want.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2014, 05:49:55 PM »

there is more to this commo thing than pushing the PTT,

Not.

For.

Operators.

“1-2. Purpose. The primary purpose of CAP communications is to provide internal communications capabilities; to provide commanders with the means to conduct the missions of CAP both during normal conditions and when commercial infrastructure is unavailable or unsuitable,
[/quote]

This seems to escape the vision of many comm people. 

Neither ES operators, nor the admin officer at an encampment need to know or care about the socio-political-economic-metaphysical reasoning behind
why one vendor or technology was chosen over the other, why one radio is better then another, SWR, attenuation, power levels or anything
else other then "they said push this button and my voice will come out over there..."

Comms

IS.

NOT.

A.

MISSION.

It is a tool for completing a mission - namely passing information between parties with actual work to do that doesn't
include pulling cable, mounting an antenna, or changing the channel plan in the middle of a hurricane.

This is no different then the constant nonsense in IT - fifedoms, camps, personal preferences, risk aversion and preference
for the status quo mean that in an era where 6 year olds carry devices that would astound the Federation, CAP still does not
have a mission management system, nor even a coherent IT plan.

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Storm Chaser
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« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2014, 05:54:03 PM »

I agree with many who have posted here. It's obvious that the target audience for this training is Comm Officers, not operators. That's fine.

Keep the training within the purview of CAP. For those who are technically inclined, there may be many interesting communications topics to be discussed, but if they're not relevant to CAP, you're missing a great opportunity here. So, the question I would ask about your audience is, what do you want them to be able to accomplish when they complete this training? Do you want them to be able to reprogram radios? Do you want them to be able to service/maintain radios? Do you want them to manage the Comm Program? Or be able to install a mobile comm station, antennas, etc.? Is this training only targeted to Comm Officers? Or do you also want CULs? Unless you can answer what your goal is, you may end up covering a lot of interesting, but useless (in the context of CAP) material.

Keep it simple and relevant to your target audience and CAP. And make sure that the objectives are clear, as well as your participants' expectations about this training.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2014, 05:55:31 PM »

Operationally, we have physically moved the communications section into the operations area right next to Air Ops and Ground Ops and set up the operations section like a Land Component Tactical Operations Center. Seems rather simple, but you should have heard the howling from the “old guard” about how much noise there was going to be and how much those radio people were going to be in the way.  But we did it at the last SAREX and low and behold, the number one AAR comment is that this was the first time that everyone was able to track everything easily.  It’s still a work in progress because it is to loud, and those operations people really do get in the way of good communications.

Wow.  Just wow.

The comm shack, and anything else that generates that much literal and figurative background noise needs to be as far away from the
ICS structure as possible.

BTDT - it doesn't work.

How about developing a simple system to pass message traffic, or better, grab something free and robust like Google Apps?

Listen.

Type.

Listen.

Type.

Read if necessary.

Put someone on the AOBD and GBD desk to monitor comms in both directions.

Fully logged, sandboxed.

Done.
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arajca
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« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2014, 07:28:56 PM »

there is more to this commo thing than pushing the PTT,

Not.

For.

Operators.

“1-2. Purpose. The primary purpose of CAP communications is to provide internal communications capabilities; to provide commanders with the means to conduct the missions of CAP both during normal conditions and when commercial infrastructure is unavailable or unsuitable,
YES.

FOR.

OPERATORS.

Operators need to know the following in addition to PTT-RTL (many forget the RTL part):
1. How to turn on/off the radio.
2. How to change the channel.
3. How to read a comm plan to determine what channel to use.
4. BASIC trouble shooting.

Quote
This seems to escape the vision of many comm people. 

Neither ES operators, nor the admin officer at an encampment need to know or care about the socio-political-economic-metaphysical reasoning behind
why one vendor or technology was chosen over the other, why one radio is better then another, SWR, attenuation, power levels or anything
else other then "they said push this button and my voice will come out over there..."

Comms

IS.

NOT.

A.

MISSION.

It is a tool for completing a mission - namely passing information between parties with actual work to do that doesn't include pulling cable, mounting an antenna, or changing the channel plan in the middle of a hurricane.
The only folks I have heard go into the nitty gritty details of comms is comm folks talking among themselves or when answering a direct question of why we use Radio A instead of Radio B. Believe it or not, telling a radio operator to use Radio A because it works better doesn't satisfy many them. They usually ask why it works better. That's when the techno-babble come out.

When most comm folks develop a comm plan, they're not trying to make life difficult. They're trying to provide the most effective communications network to meet the mission. Most of the time, when a comm plan changes mid-mission, it's because of a change in the effectiveness - a repeater may have gone down, the area of the mission may have changed, conflicts with another mission, etc. We in comm like to keep our jobs as easy as anyone else - we do not change comm plans just to change them.

In response to the issue of ISRs on an active military base. I ran into that problem and that came directly from HQAF Frequency Managers. It was resolved in about two weeks after we were made aware of the issue.
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lordmonar
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« Reply #27 on: November 02, 2014, 07:40:53 PM »

The comm shack, and anything else that generates that much literal and figurative background noise needs to be as far away from the
ICS structure as possible.
No...ideally.....you would have a MRO at each section that uses comm assets.  AOBD and GOBD should both have an MRO.
The "comm shack" should be empty of people.....just house the equipment.
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PATRICK M. HARRIS, SMSgt, CAP
Eclipse
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« Reply #28 on: November 02, 2014, 08:06:14 PM »

No...ideally.....you would have a MRO at each section that uses comm assets.  AOBD and GOBD should both have an MRO.
The "comm shack" should be empty of people.....just house the equipment.

Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.

Ops branches have no business speaking to the teams directly.  All comms go through comms.
Otherwise you have messages never tracked, never sent, misread, etc., etc.

You also have the issue that CAP doesn't have the infrastructure to support all those stations transmitting
at once and stepping on each other.  BTDT, too.  Talk about a Charlie Foxtrot.

It's one thing to have tactical channels setup for direct comms, assuming your infrastructure can support it,
but the main dispatch needs to be a central point, away from the ops area (i.e. another room, not another building),
and everything funneled through a central point.

The primary problem with this is CAP's inability to handle messages correctly.  MROs filter, interpret, ignore, write with
their feet, and generally don't understand the critical nature of this intel.  Runners get bypassed on other tasks,
the donut cart, or the bathroom, leave messages in the wrong station, and even the crews don't debrief properly.

One of the issues is that it's usually handled by cadets, who are very new and don't understand ES, or why these things are important.

I've worked missions with experienced senior-member MROs who knew what they were supposed to do and did it,
without filter.   One of the most fun missions I ever worked was as "Air-MRO" we had something like 7 aircraft at once,
I felt like an ATC, it was awesome, but getting missions to that point take years and people move on and out before they get to
any level of proficiency.
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Storm Chaser
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« Reply #29 on: November 02, 2014, 08:17:16 PM »

No...ideally.....you would have a MRO at each section that uses comm assets.  AOBD and GOBD should both have an MRO.
The "comm shack" should be empty of people.....just house the equipment.

Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.

Ops branches have no business speaking to the teams directly.  All comms go through comms.
Otherwise you have messages never tracked, never sent, misread, etc., etc.

That's 100% correct. In an incident, there's only one Comm Unit per ICP or mission base and it reports (through the CUL) to the LSC or IC (if there's no LSC).

The comm shack, and anything else that generates that much literal and figurative background noise needs to be as far away from the
ICS structure as possible.

I prefer my Comm Unit in the ICP, relatively close (or at least accessible) to the IC and the Ops Section, but they shouldn't be making that much noise where they're being disruptive or distracting.
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JeffDG
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« Reply #30 on: November 02, 2014, 09:17:53 PM »

No...ideally.....you would have a MRO at each section that uses comm assets.  AOBD and GOBD should both have an MRO.
The "comm shack" should be empty of people.....just house the equipment.

Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.

Ops branches have no business speaking to the teams directly.  All comms go through comms.
Otherwise you have messages never tracked, never sent, misread, etc., etc.
Our last opseval, we had each major staffer (AOBD, GBD, PSC, etc) had a pair of ISRs (yes 2).  One was locked on their "personal" channel.  So, if I needed to talk to the IC, I knew he was on Channel 2.  Comms was Channel 1.

So, if comms needed to pass something onto the AOBD, they could grab their unlocked ISR, look at the sheet, go to Channel 4, and the AOBD would be there (remember, he had a radio the he couldn't change the channel for on that one).  Comms with the aircrew went exclusively through Comms, but inter-staff comms went ISR
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Eclipse
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« Reply #31 on: November 02, 2014, 09:24:14 PM »

That's not a bad idea.
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Luis R. Ramos
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« Reply #32 on: November 02, 2014, 09:49:12 PM »

If you have an ISR locked into a particular channel, isn't that like using a cell phone?

Overall I think it is an excellent idea if you are in an area with bad cell service. On the other hand if the communications need goes beyond the mission base... ISRs have a limited range.
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lordmonar
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« Reply #33 on: November 02, 2014, 10:06:00 PM »

If you have an ISR locked into a particular channel, isn't that like using a cell phone?

Overall I think it is an excellent idea if you are in an area with bad cell service. On the other hand if the communications need goes beyond the mission base... ISRs have a limited range.
Well that is sort of the point.
ISR....is inter squad.   it is not for talking to the next squad or outside the immediate area.

The idea of locking out each ISR is a little inflexible.
It is great from only the comm unit's point of view....they know where to look for you.  But if the AOBD needs to talk VFR to the IC....he's got to go through comm to get a hold of the IC.

I like the idea of using the ISRs at mission base.

Channel 1 is the common all call freq.
Channel 2 is IC/Command
Channel 3 is OPS
Channel 4 is Flight Line
Channel 5 Planning.
etc.

But I also like the idea that each section have its own MRO.  Reduces the amount of running around needed to get messages to the proper receiver.

Ground Team one needs to send in a status report...he calls GBD.  If they need to report a clue they call PSC.
Granted.....most mission bases do not have that many radios.....but in the sense of efficiency and fidelity of communications the less nodes a message must run between the transmitter and the receiver....the better.

And please note that I never advocated for the AOBD to be directly talking to the aircraft....they will still have an MRO who's job it is to log and track all communications through their stations.   We just eliminate the need to have to walk the message to the comm shack to talk to your team in the field.




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PATRICK M. HARRIS, SMSgt, CAP
UWONGO2
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« Reply #34 on: November 02, 2014, 11:31:17 PM »

How about developing a simple system to pass message traffic, or better, grab something free and robust like Google Apps?

Good luck with that. We wrote a decent comm logging solution that attached comm traffic to a status board of aircraft. It worked pretty well, except for two issues:

  • Nearly all of our MROs lacked the typing ability to log information in real-time
  • Nobody was willing to "trust" the computer, so everything entered into the system also had to be logged on paper

The massive duplication of effort wasn't worth it. Even if WMIRS 2.0 actually worked, I doubt anyone will use it. CAPF 110 and CAPF 105 forever!
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UWONGO2
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« Reply #35 on: November 02, 2014, 11:42:45 PM »

I prefer my Comm Unit in the ICP, relatively close (or at least accessible) to the IC and the Ops Section, but they shouldn't be making that much noise where they're being disruptive or distracting.

I've seen this work rather well. We have one ICP we use that they set up a bunch of tables end to end. COMM starts on the left with a radio, then it's AOBD, OPS, GOBD, etc all in a line. The AOBD hears the traffic as it comes in, so his SA is always up-to-date (regardless of how long it takes for a message form to reach him, which depending on the MRO team can be 2 to 25 minutes). Even with 3-4 planes in the air, there isn't so much radio traffic that there are noise issues. Plus it's handy when an aircrew calls in with a question, just pass the mic to the AOBD who can immediately provide the answer (all logged on the CAPF 110 of course).

If your ICP looks and sounds like a wall street trading floor, then there's sometihing fundementally wrong with the operation. There shouldn't be so much chaos that adding a radio nearby causes noise problems for anyone.
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Trung Si Ma
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« Reply #36 on: November 03, 2014, 01:22:13 AM »


BTDT - it doesn't work.


BTDT - it DOES work.

Obviously, you and I use different criteria when applying task C-4000.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #37 on: November 03, 2014, 06:19:36 AM »

Clearly.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #38 on: November 03, 2014, 06:21:53 AM »

How about developing a simple system to pass message traffic, or better, grab something free and robust like Google Apps?

Good luck with that. We wrote a decent comm logging solution that attached comm traffic to a status board of aircraft. It worked pretty well, except for two issues:

  • Nearly all of our MROs lacked the typing ability to log information in real-time
  • Nobody was willing to "trust" the computer, so everything entered into the system also had to be logged on paper

The massive duplication of effort wasn't worth it. Even if WMIRS 2.0 actually worked, I doubt anyone will use it. CAPF 110 and CAPF 105 forever!

If you can't type a simple message and don't trust computers, it's time to
park it on the porch and watch those kids mess up your lawn.

Every agency CAP purports to emulate or support is fully, 100% computerized.
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Luis R. Ramos
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« Reply #39 on: November 03, 2014, 12:06:15 PM »

LIG of NY Wing handles passing messages between AOBD and Comm pretty well.

These two offices are separated y a window. Message from air? KNOCK KNOCK! KNOCK! "Your message," "Wheels up," etc.
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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Emergency Services & Operations  |  Topic: Every Comm Question You Never Got Answered
 


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