Leadership: Coping With Net Overload


March 29, 2013: One of the more subtle, but very important, characteristics of well-trained ground troops is their ability to handle multiple radio nets effectively. This has been a growing problem ever since troops were widely equipped with radios during World War II. For example, since World War II it has been common for Western tank commanders to deal with up to five radio nets simultaneously. First there’s the intercom inside the tank, then there’s the command net for the platoon (or company or battalion if the tank commander is a platoon or company commander) so they can be given orders. Then there is the command network for receiving orders from your boss (platoon commanders are on the company command net and company commanders are on the battalion command net and so on). Then there is the artillery network (some tank commanders, especially platoon and company commanders, are trained to call in artillery fire) and the air support network (same deal as artillery).

This only works if everyone on the net is very disciplined and knows how to use a lot of verbal shorthand. More recently more technology has arrived to help out (allowing verbal messages to stack up). Texting has become very useful.

Intelligence personnel love to get recordings of potential foes using their radio nets during training exercises. If the users are disciplined, crisp, clear, and so on, you have to consider these guys a dangerous foe. But if you hear, again and again, verbal chaos on their tactic radio nets, you have to hope they don’t get themselves sorted out before you get a chance to kill them.


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