Radio communication is the most important way soldiers communicate during operations and conflict, and therefore has the most codified structure. This section will provide an overview of what you need to know about radio communication. Keep in mind, whenever you spell out words or codes on the alphabet, you will use the Military Alphabet.
Call signs are the essential first part of any radio message, identifying who each message is coming from. Call signs can be for individuals, squads, platoons, companies, or higher officials and leaders. These should be distinct from easily identifiable names or nicknames, as they are meant to obscure identities from enemies. Here’s an example of how they are used:
“Hey [Call sign], this is [Call Sign]…Over.”
The most famous cultural usage of call signs takes place in the film Top Gun. “Maverick,” “Iceman,” and “Viper” are all call signs you are likely familiar with because of those iconic characters. In reality, though, you would want your call sign to be less tied to your personal identity.
The idea is for U.S. soldiers to be able to identify each other and communicate without revealing too much, even if messages are intercepted. Be sure to always use the call sign of the unit you are calling at the beginning of your message.
While fairly simple, radio checks are important to make sure communication lines are in tact. Radio checks are periodic check-ins that confirm that other Call Signs are effectively hearing your messages. Be sure to conduct regular radio checks, especially before and after operations.
Below is a list of important procedural words, known as “Prowords,” that play important roles in radio communication. You will need to know what these mean, and how they stand-in for and abbreviate longer messages. Important note: avoid using the word repeat. Transmissions are often interrupted or broken up, so it becomes unclear whether you are repeating a transmission or requesting a transmission be repeated.
|Proword||Definition (Quotes denote synonyms)|
|Break||Establishes that the current message will continue in a separate transmission. “Break” is inserted to keep transmissions short.|
|Correction||Establishes that an error has been made in the transmission. A revised transmission will follow this Proword.|
|Do Not Answer||“Do not reply or acknowledge receipt of this message.”|
|Execute/Immediate Execute||Establishes the action/order within this message is to be carried out upon receipt of this message.
|I Say Again||“I am repeating a previous transmission.”|
|I Verify||“I am verifying message/info upon request.”|
|More to Follow||“There is more information coming.”|
|Out||This Proword is the last word of all transmission sequences, and establishes the end of the conversation. Can only be spoken by the person who initiated the transmission.|
|Over||Ends individual messages.|
|Read Back||“Repeat this transmission back to me.”|
|Relay||“Forward this transmission to ___”|
|Roger||“I have received your message.”|
|Say Again||“Repeat previous message.”|
|SIlence (Repeat 3x or more)||“Discontinue communication on this net.”|
|Silence Lifted||“Communication on this net may resume.”|
|Unknown Station||“I am sending this to an unknown party.”|
|Verify||“Verify this message and/or info.”|
|Wilco||“I will comply.”|
Typically, radio messages will feature at least one of these Prowords. These four are particularly important, because they determine the nature of the message. Roger and Negative establish agreement or disagreement at the beginning of a message. Likewise, Break and Over will determine whether a particular transmission is a complete message or not.