NPFD 2015/1 COMSEC Considerations For Discussion


NPFD 2015/1 background here, here, and here.

A reader sends:

As an exercise in analysis, I offer the following thoughts on the NPFD communication exercise planned for the near future:

1 – activate as many freefor communication nodes for potential inventory of numbers and geographic distribution
2 – provide a venue for testing field gear and procedures (setup, power, antennas, etc)
3 – positively publicize force numbers as an inspiration to others and potential deterrent to opfor
4 – validate wrsa as a valuable information source for force coordination
5 – avoid security compromise of participants

1 – operational experience for logistics and support functions
2 – unification of procedures in message handling
3 – morale boost in recognizing strength in numbers (“we are not alone”)

1 – since critical information (time, freq) cannot be securely dispatched to an unknown number of participants (absent FTF vetting), the exercise WILL assume opfor monitoring
2 – participant security is only assured by geographic uncertainty (unless really outstanding, widespread, and rapid opfor DF capability is assumed)
3 – security may be compromised by use of FCC callsigns, as the database is open and includes names and physical addresses
*example – sparks31’s new location in the Redoubt was identified in 10 min of internet searching*
4 – CFR 97.119 forbids transmitting on amateur frequencies without an identifying callsign at the end of each transmission – penalties are not specified; however, past history records prosecution of only sustained and flagrant violations with monetary penalties
5 – participants in NPFD may be at risk of identification as domestic security threat

Potential courses of action
1 – accept risk of monitoring and identification as participation in open radio nets is prima facie legal
2 – monitor only without transmitting and followup with secure email report
3 – use alternative, properly formatted callsign from “inactive” subset of FCC database and general geographic identifier (state only or state quadrant “NE Utah”)
4 – #3 plus portable or mobile operation to handicap/defeat opfor DF
5 – #4 plus no co-located active traceable cellphone

Risk/benefit analysis at the discretion of participant


5 responses to “NPFD 2015/1 COMSEC Considerations For Discussion

  1. Grenadier1

    There are multiple routes to reach the ICP. If your reporting something OTHER than just a “howdy, just wanted to let you know I was out here” then you might consider usage of those alternative paths. Unseen comes to mind.
    YMMV, OPFOR knows that if they mess with someone for just calling in on a radio net then the mask is fully off and its a signal that there is no turning it back.

    • G1:
      The intent seems to be operational testing of HF net capability – this requires transmitting and being heard by net control. The risk of call signs being scraped into a list is nontrivial.
      As always, options are many…

      • Grenadier1

        Yes calling in on this net will expose your call sign to pick up. The intent however is a little more complex than just HF networking. Calling into the net and saying “hello, this is KXXXXX” will get some Fed stooge to write down your call sign, yes. So how is that any different than the post you just left? Its a little bit different in that there is no breadcrumb trail that exists in some Google server for the feds to follow back to you but I understand that folks will be hesitant. Look guys this is big boy rules. Its just like the guys who showed up at the Bundy ranch. They were videoed and photographed and recorded. It happens. Such is war. Act accordingly. That’s why we are offering multiple routes to report in. Many ways to achieve or maintain some level of anonymous activity.
        The intent is to communicate and network in real time while all manner of other operations are taking place. This will simulate higher level organization and coordination. HF is just one of the tools to get to that end, there are others.

  2. outlawpatriot

    Any action carries with it a certain amount of risk I suppose. However, since nobody will be doing anything illegal at all during this exercise, I would consider the risk to be very low. We’re training for emergency conditions and using the ham radio bands for that training. Bands that are specifically set aside for that purpose. We’ll be using them according to all the rules and regulations, so what’s the problem?

    The benefits that will be derived from this exercise will more than likely be invaluable to all who participate. I know I’m watching in real time the development of a strong communications capability as we prep for April 19th. I am without doubt that starting on April 20th we’ll be integrating what we learned during the exercise to improve that capability.

    The thoughts enumerated in the post are well thought out and valid. However, the benefits to be gained far exceed the extremely limited risk participants would be exposed to assuming they follow all the rules and regulations.

  3. Alfred E. Neuman

    Reblogged this on The Lynler Report.