Military experts say radio amateurs "highly knowledgeable asset in HF communication"

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by W0PV, Oct 11, 2020.

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  1. KC1CCG

    KC1CCG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Does anyone know of a detailed study (unclassified) based on the NEMP testing done in the early 1960's ? Specifically the field strength of the pulse at various distances for various weapon yields. Yes, this is on thread....the military and HF radio survivability.
    WZ7U likes this.
  2. WA7AXT

    WA7AXT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    In my humble opinion, most of us, as "ham" operators, are not "amateurs"; we are more like unpaid professionals. We pass tests and then have experience in setting things up. We learn from others. We know how radios and antennas work. We are definitely an asset to this country.

    Hf, morse code, digital signals, ssb, fm, am, vhf, uhf, pencil and paper, cursive handwriting, satellites. Lots of technologies, some ancient and some current, all perfectly valid and useful. It does seem risky to rely on only one of these in a situation where many lives are at stake. So, to say that digital is too easily disrupted, or that morse code is useless, or hf is useless, or that any of the above mentioned are useless or "outdated" or too "newfangled", seems short sighted at best, crazy at worst, in my opinion.

    Another "Carrington event" is possible, is it not? Does anyone remember, we almost had one a short time ago? The "internet" is not infallible, and can go away at any time. A situation like the Carrington event would severely disrupt internet data, and satellite enabled navigation. Natural disasters do mess up the internet. When I take notes in cursive on a paper tablet (or water proof tablet) there is no battery to go dead, and a powerful electromagnetic pulse will not erase or destroy my writing. We don't need a computer to copy cw Morse code. If one is in a remote location and the digital equipment's communication is disrupted, morse code will still get through. Has anyone read about the "code talkers" in WW2 ? Lets be careful what technology we disregard, we may need it later when things are not "normal".

    Now, you can dis me on any of this, but my point is we need to be adaptable and have plenty of back up plans; and not put all of our resources and efforts in one area. I think that might be what this article is about.
    WN1MB and W1ER like this.
  3. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    N0TZU likes this.
  4. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There are a lot of references in the Wikipedia article on EMP. Maybe one of those has the information you're looking for?
  5. KE5WCT

    KE5WCT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    26 years in Naval Communications, both ashore and in the fleet and never once had to use a computer, update software or drivers. All the functions that would be vital to solid reliable Radio communications has gone by the way side to save funding of schools to teach the basic skills. Todays communicators probably don't even know what CW stands for (or how to spell it). Our tactical communications units rely to heavily on modern technology.
  6. N1IPU

    N1IPU Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think 2017 was the x7 that missed us. Just launched after it passed us. If it hit we would have been in a world of hurt. Not many understand how much our magnetosphere has weakened recently so smaller x class storms will effect us as much as larger ones used to.
    When it does happen the main effect will be loss of timing. Near everything now relies on timing from GPS. It's crazy how people become so dependent on systems that can go away in the blink of an eye. It will be deer in the headlights for the vast majority.
  7. K6BRN

    K6BRN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Just a few opinions - NOT meant to diss anyone...

    "In my humble opinion, most of us, as "ham" operators, are not "amateurs"; we are more like unpaid professionals."

    Ahhhh... no. I disagree. That's more of a "Grand Aspiration" . Most hams are either inactive or have barely enough knowledge to operate in the modes they use. The vast majority will be of no use in a real emergency. But with 750,000+ registered, even a 1% success rate will yield 7,500 people that MAY be helpful if they are in the right place at the right time. Not too bad. Oddly enough this happened to me. Once.

    "I think 2017 was the x7 that missed us. Just launched after it passed us. If it hit we would have been in a world of hurt."

    Amazing how many people "Live for the days of mass destruction" of some sort rather than seizing the upside opportunities available today (that takes a LOT of work, it doesn't just fall into your hands). Hey, you've got your wish, though. COVID19. World wide disaster can come in so many forms - and with 7.8 BILLION people living on this planet, we're just a little top heavy. So... It's nice to keep your eyes open for the errant comet or ion jet. But much more relevant to get your work, business, family and financial act together to minimize harm when the economic impact of ANY calamity, local, national or global hits. Because, frankly, that happens ALL THE TIME. Plenty of victims of commonplace problems.

    Where YOU can make a difference by: 1. Being secure yourself and not ADDING to the problem, 2. Being a "Good Neighbor" and helping out others who ARE affected, and are willing to help themselves as well. Fortunately, despite all of the political vile of the past few years, many still have the good will to do this in the USA.

    Waiting by a 1963 Collins tube set for a "Covington Event" is going to miss most of the opportunities to live, make a difference to the world AND to help. And BTW - you can "Make a difference" simply by doing your job well, no matter what that job is, and treating others well, too. I sincerely hope we get back into that "normal".

    Brian - K6BRN
    KD4BPZ, AA1BG, PY2RAF and 3 others like this.
  8. HB9EPC

    HB9EPC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Cela sera plus un rôle de résistance dans l'ombre, faut pas rêver !
  9. N6SPP

    N6SPP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    As an Army radio op in 'West Germany' from 1980-82 under NATO, we used some good acronyms.. USCINCEUR, SACEUR, SHAPE and others I can't remember now :) 73,n6spp-cm98
  10. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    My "take" on this, coming from about 50 years as a radio amateur and almost 40 years as a professional in civilian and military HF radio circles is in summary that radio amateurs have outlived their usefulness in "first-world" militaries.

    Modern HF military communications are specifically designed to be done by crew without any special training or radio skills.
    This has been accomplished by building the systems around automation, with various forms of ALE as the foremost examples.

    One or two generations ago, there were a lot of conceptual similarities between amateur radio and military/professional radio, the traffic methods and patterns, modulation modes and equipment employed were quite similar.

    This meant that radio amateurs could be used in productive operational and technical roles with only a small amount of supplemental training, and that they preserved their competence through "self-training".

    A lot of the support for amateur radio from the Authorities in the 1940s-1970s time frame was derived from such observations.

    Today, the situation is very different.
    Traditional manual communications modes such as Morse and AM/FM/SSB telephony now take the "back-seat" to automated digital modes and message forwarding, at the same time as the requirements for bandwidth have increased and the tolerance for network latencies has decreased.

    This is very much reflected in the views about HF that are current from both civilian and military users or decision-makers. HF is considered a "slow, cumbersome and noisy" way of communication that is frowned at, particularly by younger staff.

    Understanding or lack of understanding of HF and its fundamental properties and limitations has very much become a generational matter.

    As a consultant in these matters for quite a long time, I have discussed the question with a sample of my clients and sometimes raised the question when teaching younger staff, both civilian (aircrew) and military (junior officers and technical staff).

    Their views are mostly that HF indeed is a component in the overall system, but that it spends far too much time in getting a message through.

    Radio amateurs, if ever mentioned, are mostly regarded as old, grumpy and somewhat backwards people living in the past, who "plan for the previous war".

    Also, the "team player aspects" of radio amateurs are seen as lacking, as amateurs tend to do things their own way.

    In my opinion, the only thing radio amateurs could contribute in military HF communications would be an understanding of the limitations of HF, and the importance of adapting the user expectations to what actually can be delivered by especially tactical HF.

    This is most important when dealing with systems integrators who contemplate the inclusion of HF in their overall systems.
    Some of them regard HF as some form of "magic bullet", without understanding fundamental limitations of the medium.

    Too many do not grasp the fact that even on a "sunny day" the bandwidths possible on HF are orders of magnitude lower than, say, mobile broadband. Message prioritisation and formatting have a profound importance if HF should be a viable component at all.

    Already in the 90s, there was a joke around about "Nintendo Generals" who expected everything communications or operational related to be as responsive as a video game.

    Looking at the qualifications of the average radio amateur of today, they are very much lacking to act as some form of "communications expert" in the military context.
    Very few radio amateurs have the necessary systems knowledge and experience to successfully manually operate or configure a current HF system, if such operations were to be allowed at all.

    In third-world countries, however, amateur radio may still have a role if the operational expectations are set at a realistic level.

    KD4BPZ, K3SZ, KO4LZ and 9 others like this.

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