Radio communication rules

Today, I present a summary of radio correspondence rules. This topic popped up while I was writing instruction for a tactical game “The Patrol.” Since the game is almost ready, you can expect it to be available soon.

Radio communication – basic rules

Military radio communication procedures and basic data.While exchanging the messages over the radio you should follow some basic rules to comply with international standards, both in the civil and military conditions alike. Below you will find the basic, fixed radio phraseology used for the purpose of radio transmissions along with some military procedures to follow.

Universal rules of radio communication

1)    Before you press the transmission button, gather your thoughts about what you are going to say. Many people with radios have a tendency to talk and/or repeat too much. Say what you need to say without unnecessary repeats. Keep in mind that your message should go through the first time – you may not have any opportunity to repeat it.

2)    Give the call sign of the unit you are calling first. It will alert the addressee to focus on the incoming message. There might be more listeners and radio network users so you must let them know that this time there will be a message for them, not a usual background noise.

3)    Introduce yourself by your call sign. Do not use real names or nicknames.

4)    Don’t speak too fast especially if the message needs to be written down. Pause after logical phrases. High voice does not guarantee that you will be more readable.

5)    Use “CLEAR”, “OVER”, “OUT” when you finish your message. It notifies the addressee that you finished your portion of information and wait for the response or just ended the transmission (“OUT” word).

6)    When you have understood the message, acknowledge the receipt with the words “COPY“, “RECEIVED“, “ROGER” or “ACKNOWLEDGED.” The word “COPY” is preferred.

7)    If the caller requires some actions you may use “WILCO” instead of “ROGER” to notify that you WILL COMPLY (=”WILCO”).

8)    Use “BREAK, BREAK” whenever there is a radio traffic and you want to get through with your emergency message.

9)    Answer each call to confirm reception. Use “RECEIVED”, “COPY”, “ROMEO” or “ACKNOWLEDGED.”

10) If you do not comprehend the message, do not confirm it. Use “SAY AGAIN”, “REPEAT”, “STAND BY” instead.

11) Whenever a word must be spelled use NATO code words for each letter. Do not invent your own words – they might be misleading and not comprehensive.

12) Use single, cardinal numbers, do not combine them into bigger numbers.

Call out

Radio operators in the army. Basic communication rules and procedures.When you want to initiate radio exchange, first you must call out the addressee of your message. To notify the addressee about incoming message call him/her twice, giving his/her call sign:

Example: White Chicken 07, White Chicken 07…

Then give your call sign:

Example: this is COYOTE, OVER.

When you expect the other part to answer, finish your portion of message with a word “OVER”, like in the example above.

If there is a traffic on the air, use “BREAK, BREAK” to cut into the network. Only in case of higher priority of your message!

Quality of transmission

In case of some interference or just to confirm how your message was received you may need to ask about the reception. In this instance we use “HOW DO YOU COPY?” or even shorter “HOW COPY?” To ask about general quality of the reception you may also ask “HOW DO YOU READ?

There are two ways of responding to such questions. You may simply answer “COPY LOUD AND CLEAR” (=”LIMA CHARLIE”) or give the answerer the notion of the signal quality by giving the note from 1 to 5.

Example:  COPY 3 out of 5

The meaning of numbers used in assessment over the radio:

1 = Bad (unreadable);
2 = Poor (readable now and then);
3 = Fair (readable but with difficulty);
4 = Good (readable);
5 = Excellent (perfectly readable).

When repeat is needed

It may happen that due to poor transmission or distracting factors some pieces of information should be repeated to avoid misunderstandings. In that case you may request repeat by saying “SAY AGAIN.”

Likewise, when you want to stress the importance of the message or simply make sure that important data get through, you say your message and then use
I SAY AGAIN” and repeat the message.

EXAMPLE: I need five more minutes, I SAY AGAIN, five more minutes…

NATO code words for English letters

A

Alpha

N

November

B

Bravo

O

Oscar

C

Charlie

P

Papa

D

Delta

Q

Quebec

E

Echo

R

Romeo

F

Foxtrot

S

Sierra

G

Golf

T

Tango

H

Hotel

U

Uniform

I

India

V

Victor

J

Juliet

W

Whiskey

K

Kilo

X

X-ray

L

Lima

Y

Yankee

M

Mike

Z

Zulu

N

November

 

Numbers in radio transmission

It is a common practice to say numbers with each digit separately. For instance we say “CHARLIE TWO-THREE” instead of “CHARLIE TWENTY THREE.” Additionally, to avoid misunderstandings two particular numerals are pronounced differently:

4 = [foer]

9 = [niner]