Communications are vital to survival. You need a way to find out what is going around you, as well as a way to communicate securely with members of your team. The problem we have is that most modern methods of communications rely on grid power or a communications network existing. In a true Without Rule of Law situation (WROL), that’s not a certainty.
Too many groups rely on cell phones or social media platforms to communicate, even in an emergency.
Here, we will discuss the pros and cons of several communication methods.
Cell phones are convenient and quick methods to communicate. They are also the biggest item in the surveillance capitalism business. Businesses literally make millions of dollars selling information about your every move to anyone who wants to buy it.
Any more questions about cell phones?
In all seriousness, in any emergency, if the power is still on, the cell networks will be overloaded, making this mode unreliable.
I have a homemade Farady cage made from an ammo can lined with foam and foil, where my phone spends drive time. When you are at home, your microwave makes an EXCELLENT Faraday cage.
You can also buy Faraday bags on Amazon cheap.
The Zello App is a tool that turns your cell phone into a two-way radio. It’s convenient, private, and relatively easy to use.
However, it has an odd quirk of limiting you from sending too many messages too quickly, which in a critical event, will be a hinderance.
While it should work even if you can’t make actual phone calls, much like SMS, it does rely on the cell network having power, so it’s not exactly a true WROL tool. It’s good for now, but isn’t a replacement for radio, yet many 3%, militia, and preparedness groups are using it as just that.
Radio – VHF/UHF
You can pick up high quality VHF/UHF radios relatively cheap. Stay away from the department or sporting good stores bubble pack radios, as those are generally very limited in power and range (generally 0.5 Watts). A good, low cost radio is the BaoFeng. They offer many models with 8 Watts of power and you can program 127 channels in them very easily ( I use CHIRP software).
Many people warn against buying BaoFeng radios, saying they are made in China. Nearly all radios are. You can spend more for a Japanese radio with less features, but why? I’m not looking to share national security information, I just want to talk to my team. As far as reliability, I actually use my BaoFeng BF-8HP at work rather than using the Kenwood radios we have there, and I’ve been using the same one for about 5 years.
In addition to a few BaoFeng handhelds, I also have a QYT 25 Watt 200 channel mobile radio in my car with an external magnetic antenna. I use it for work on a daily basis and while low cost, it’s very high quality for my purposes.
I have mine programmed with the FRS/GMRS frequencies, so that I can talk to others I encounter on it, or in a true grid-down disaster, I could just call out on frequencies that are very commonly used to gather news and information.
I also have the MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service) frequencies programmed in. MURS is a license-free system available for anyone to use, and many businesses do. That’s the push-back I get from most militia groups, “Walmart uses them”…But if a true disaster happens, I assure you that I probably won’t have to worry about traffic from Walmart or the local TJ Maxx store and neither will you.
Many people point out that these radios can violate FCC regulations by broadcasting at a higher power level than allowed on certain frequencies. I assure you that in a true WROL situation, the FCC is the least of my worries and I doubt they’ll be running around my bug out rural area looking for radiated power violations.
Another common concern is security. Many groups say that they want radios that can be encrypted. While that’s a fair point, and I have 2 Kenwood radios that have encryption, I promise you two things:
- The US Government won’t let anyone sell a radio to civilians that they can’t already break the encryption on.
- Your local ANTIFA, BLM, or Leroy Jenkins gang isn’t running a COMINT decryption cell.
For radio security, first, don’t mention common channel names. Give the channels a different name, rather than their commercial name. For example, you could call FRS channel 3 “MAIN”, instead of FRS 3, so that when you tell someone to meet you on the MAIN channel, the opposition would have to guess where you went.
The second thing is use good COMSEC and develop code words. I know, I’m about to get 50 comments….Yes, codes violate FCC rules. Again, I’ll say that if there is a civil war, or massive disaster, I doubt that a guy calling a gas station a green box is going to be too high on the FCC priorities.
Here’s what the Ultimate Tactical Handbook says about codes:
Whoever guards his mouth, preserves his life;
He who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
Even King David knew that sharing your information too widely would lead to disaster.
Every time I bring up CB Radio, I get a bunch of amateur radio guys rolling their eyes at me and saying “CB is dead”. I say GOOD, for our purposes, that means that there are 40 channels available (120 with an SSB radio) for us to use in the HF band.
CB operates in HF, which gives you longer range in all but urban terrain. It’s certainly a good option and requires no license.
I have a handheld CB (Uniden Pro401-HH) and for my purposes, patrolling in a rural area or convoy operations on the road, CB is perfect. I’m looking for a good price on an SSB vehicle radio.
Yes, truckers use Channel 19 still. That gives you 39 other channels that are almost never used. Why not use them? And, by the way, truckers are a FANTASTIC intelligence source and are very aware of law enforcement activity.
Some will question why I mentioned this last, I assure you it’s not because it’s my last option. It’s a great medium for talking long-distance and has been used throughout history to share information during emergencies over long distances.
It requires a license and it’s certainly worth researching for you. It opens a whole new world of communication possibilities. There are repeaters set up for common use (but again…power is required), and a great community to talk to and learn from.
The only drawback to it is the reason why I don’t use it. You are required to register with the government to use it, and the Libertarian in me just flat out refuses to add myself to another government list.
Under the Defense Production Act, the government could decide it needs your radios in an emergency…guess how they’ll find good quality radios? They’ll start with the list of people who registered with them as radio operators.
The American Redoubt Radio Operators Network (www.amrron.com) is great resource and I’m a member there. For members, they issue a full Signal Operating Instructions book full of resources for people interested in emergency communications in a WROL situation, including a network of people in your state, and a complete reporting and code format for you to use.
Check them out.
Channel 3 Project
The Channel 3 Project is an AMMRRON idea that says that you monitor or call out on Channel 3 of whichever system you use (CB-3, FRS-3, and MURS-3) for 2 minutes every hour at the top of the hour.
Let’s say I was traveling through an area in a WROL situation, and I needed to know conditions in the next town I was arriving at. I could call out on Channel 3 and make contact with a like-minded person in that area who can give me a briefing and maybe even an escort, or assistance.
It’s a great idea and a great SOP to set up.
I hope this article gave you a few ideas to help you plan for communications in a WROL situation.