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Down & Dirty Comms – An Introduction

Portable Walkie-talkie with digital display and a large antenna. Black radio transceiver with PTT and call buttons. The view from all sides. Isolated on white background. 3d

One of our biggest pushes this year will be for national training standards. It has been evidenced by the operations that we have been a part of that, there is a definitive need to get everyone from across our local chapters, and even those from other national and regional organizations, to have a standard baseline of training when it comes to operational standards. If we got everyone on the same standard, we could more effectively respond to a natural disaster, active shooter, or full blown terrorist attack regardless of where it occurred. We must always be looking to improve ourselves and learn from past mistakes.

Moving forward this year, Oath Keepers National, along with trusted training centers and programs, will be putting forward a set of basic standards. This will most likely take the form of 3 levels. Each of these levels will have certain skill sets and physical fitness standards (don’t worry, we will be including opportunities for everyone dispute if you are able to hump a ruck for miles on end or not.) These levels will include skills that must be learned and demonstrated such as; comms, first aid, security, engineering, etc.

The following video shows what a basic comms class (as put on by The North Idaho Training Center) is like. Please keep in mind that the students go on to practice and reinforce these skills every time they come to a training and use comms (which is, pretty much, every training.) We hope you enjoy this taste of what a basic class can be like.

If you are interested in scheduling a training in your area, or just would like more information on the North Idaho Training Center, please, visit their website at or find them on Facebook. Also look for much more to come regarding our National Training Standards at

PLEASE NOTE: According to FCC regulations; This is only able to be legally performed using a dedicated frequency. Please research the FCC regs for further infomation.

Jason Van Tatenhove

National Media Director, Oath Keepers




Stewart Rhodes

Stewart is the founder and National President of Oath Keepers. He served as a U.S. Army paratrooper until disabled in a rough terrain parachuting accident during a night jump. He is a former firearms instructor, former member of Rep. Ron Paul’s DC staff, and served as a volunteer firefighter in Montana. Stewart previously wrote the monthly Enemy at the Gates column for S.W.A.T. Magazine. Stewart graduated from Yale Law School in 2004, where his paper “Solving the Puzzle of Enemy Combatant Status” won Yale’s Miller prize for best paper on the Bill of Rights. He assisted teaching U.S. military history at Yale, was a Yale Research Scholar, and is writing a book on the dangers of applying the laws of war to the American people.



  1. Great idea! You can get a pair of decent radios off of amazon for $62.

    Ya, they are cheap china radios, but you can program them from a laptop (lots of youtube videos on how) and stash them all over the place. One in the bob, one in the glovebox, etc. Get a better antenna for them, and 10 miles line of sight range isn’t a problem. Google local LE/Sheriff freqs and program them in (I also have the freq for the local medevac/airlife) so when there is an emergency you aren’t fumbling through manual programming on the fly, get involved with your local HAMsters, they have repeaters set up and will help you along the way. Your local Weather Service office also has extensive HAM rigs, including HF, and they are always looking for weather spotters to report severe weather over the radio. There are a lot of resources out there, and the infrastructure is already in place…we just need to organize a bit.

  2. It would be nice to have the information provided without being laced with unnecessary profanity.

    1. Understand this is just an audio recording of some current serving and retired military folks putting on a class. It is just the way they talk. They were not looking to offend anyone.

      1. Folks..when the SHTF for real you all will have to really get over the profanity..It is what it is.. Grow some thicker skin and toss out the PC please…

    2. I will try and put out a clean version with the profanity beeped out soon. I apologize I honestly just didn’t think about it.

  3. Good info for those of us just getting started in coms. I will have to say that it is disappointing my kids can not participate in listening as it is so littered with profanity.

    1. again I apologize it is just the way they talk. I will try and put out a clean version here soon with the profanity beeped out.

  4. Good luck on getting law enforcement/sheriffs bands any longer. After rioter in Ferguson used the radios the police, Highway Patrol, and Sheriff’s departments across the boards moved to a special 7 meter band, with starting prices on scanners going at $359 and running as high as $550. They are not encrypted, but they are now almost all encoded. If anyone has any info on frequencies in Missouri that are not working using this new technology please let me know, because this has been discussed at length at the Missouri St. Louis Oath Keeper Comm’s Core Group meetings and then I went and investigated and was able to confirm that this was in fact the case.

    1. In Pennsy the state troopers all went secure, even our local Sheriff cannot listen in their comms.

    2. After the attacks of 9-11, the Federal Government pushed for and got switched to what is called APCO P25. Some locations are using Phase I and others like the State of Pennsylvania are moving to Phase II. Most of the Federal Government have switched over to P25 Phase II as well. All radio traffic is encrypted or encoded. Only scanners like the Uniden BCD325P2, BCD996P2, Home Patrol-2, BCD436Hp and the BCD536HP will be able to decode the Phase II.

      The State of Maine government agencies has switched to a new statewide network called MSCOMMNet. This system is a combination of Analog and Digital. Analog because most of the locations up here cannot afford multi-million dollar digital network with $7,000 handheld radios issued to everyone. So the analog side is for interoperability communications to communicate with Maine State Police dispatch centers like Houlton, Bangor, Augusta, and Gray, who then in turn link you with the Maine Warden Service, Maine Forest Service, Marine Patrol, Maine Emergency Management Agency, etc.

      However on the digital side of the house where the comms is encrypted, local jurisdictions cannot hear that traffic. The only thing that is heard is a data burst. No voice at all. The radio system was put into place by Harris Communications. All of the handheld radios on this network are 136-174 mHz, 400-520 mZh and 700/800 mHz all in one radio.

      Having your agency comms encrypted is nice so that criminals don’t hear your traffic, but when it comes to agency interoperability communications on a multi-alarm fire, mascal, disaster, your no longer serving the people. That is why the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide was developed and is currently in Version 1.6. I have worked with Ross Merlin, WA2WDT who is the author of the field guide on a couple of Interoperability Communications Exercises that lead up to Maine Operation Vigilant Guard 14. Also worked with some members of NORTHCOM during these two events.

  5. Our community was hit last week by a EF-3 tornado in Appomattox VA. I received my UV-5R a few weeks prior. When the storm hit, the grid was down and cell comms was sporadic at best. I was able to use this and others radios to listen to first responders and communicate with my family. I cannot express enough how much these came in handle. Tornados are extremely rare around here. In our wildest dreams we would have not thought a storm of this magnitude would have struck. When you don’t have comms- you have nothing. I have since purchased more comms gear. Take a minute and think of your cell phone bill. Why not use the equivalent of one month’s bill money and develop a communication contingency plan? You owe it to your family.

    1. This is a copy of a post on OK about a year and a half ago.

      BaoFeng BF-F8HP – (3rd Gen of UV-5R) BaoFeng’s Only TRI-POWER (1, 4, 8 Watt) (USA Warranty) Dual-Band 136-174/400-520 MHz FM Ham Two-way Radio, Transceiver, HT – With Battery, Antenna, Charger, and More Approximate cost: $65 – Buy on Amazon

      Baofeng BF-F8+ (2nd Gen UV-5R) Dual-Band 136-174/400-520 MHz FM Ham Two-way Radio, Transceiver, HT – With Battery, Antenna, Charger, and More Approximate cost: $34 – Buy on Amazon

      Baofeng UV-B6 Walkie Antenna Approximate cost: $6 – Buy on Amazon
      Pofung Baofeng BL 5L Extended 3800mAh 7.4V Li ion Battery for UV 5R Radio Black Approximate cost: $14 – Buy on Amazon

      Car Charger Cable for BF-UV5R BAOFENG TYT TH-F8 UV5RA UV5RB UV5RE Black Approximate cost: $7 – Buy on Amazon

      Programming Cable + Two Way Radio Speaker : $15

    2. Baofeng UV-5R’s are no longer being updated, so they are staying in the 1st Generation. Baofeng BF-F8+ is the 2nd Generation of the UV-5R and is kinda going away. Baofeng BF-F8HP is the 3rd Generation and has received all of the updates to hardware and firmware. These UV-5R’s, BF-F8+, BF-F8HP’s will all work with each other when it comes to the battery packs and other accessories.

      Baofeng also has the UV-82 series of radios that have come out and they are the same, but they are also different from the UV-5R line. Battery packs will only work with UV-82 radios. You have the UV-82, UV-82C, UV-82X, UV-82HP, UV-82 Camo and UV-82L. There is no difference between the 82 and the 82L. the 82L was just somebodies way as a marketing ploy to sell more radios claiming the battery was much larger than the 1,800 mah one that is standard. The 82C is for those who work in Public Safety. The 82HP is tri-power 1, 4, 8 watts.

      They all have 128 channels to program in the range of 136-174/400-520. These radio’s are cheep and if they break, just toss them into the trash. Prices range from $25-$80 depending on where you shop. These radios will not do digital voice and they are not legal to operate encrypted in the United States.

  6. The importance of being able to communicate when your environment is under duress is vital. Being on the same page with common procedures increases a smooth transfer of information. As for the foul language it is common for former military to use rough language. My training in the Marine Corps communications school was heavily laced with much fouler language. However a clean teaching aid would be better for the general public.
    If things go sideways in this country the ability to communicate will be at a premium. HAMM operators are a very welcoming group and if you are lucky enough to have one as a team member they will enhance your communications training considerably.
    Jason thank you for this training aid. It is vital that everyone understand the importance of communications. The government has the ability to shut off communications is vast areas during times of tumult. The beginning of the Venezuelan uprising shows how effective the twitter and other instant communications was in moving large groups of protesters around Caracas. The governments around the world took note of this and developed legislation to allow them to shut down the electronic communications is strife prone areas. You can’t depend on your cell phone or computer during times of unrest.

  7. Just an FYI but if the radio linked to in the first post is a “Ham Radio”, and it appears to be one, it does require a license to use it to transmit. The good thing is getting a license is very easy.

  8. I strongly suggest we stay away from those cheap NON WATERPROOF radios flooding the market. Buy a good WATERPROOF radio for a good backup. You never know when you will need to traverse streams or rivers or be on patrol in the driving rain all night. It only takes 1 accidental drop into a mud puddle and your communications are HISTORY !

  9. Yaesu vx6 is a great radio for 70cm and 2 meter comms and is water resistant to three feet for 30 minutes. This radio can also be tweaked to receive and broadcast on murr ‘s . Price on a vx6 is in the low $200.00 range. Buy once cry once. Have owned one now for 5 years and have contacted other hams w enhanced j pole antenna 80 miles away. Put on the shorty antenna and keep signal dispersion to a quarter mile.for squad comms. Add a lap top and go digital encrypted w
    $100.00 software. Great radio, get ham lic. it is a must. Also OK attend Sam Culpers Intelligence class. I highly recommend SAMs class. See Forward Observer

  10. I own a Baofeng UV-82C, c for commercial grade. Please read ARRL laboratory testing of HTs in the November issue 2015. Compliance rating was by far the worst in compliance. The question is do you want you and your team to rely on them? Answer: No. I would advise shifting over to a compliant radio as funds become available.

  11. For a compliant radio that is far easier to operate than the Baofengs and where you can get it serviced by factory techs IN AMERICA take a look at the Anytone AT3208 U/V on this page.

    Soon you will see these non compliant radios disappear since the FCC has canceled all the certifications for certain Chinese radios that do NOT measure up for many of their parameters for spurious emissions and other critical specs.
    Anytone radios scan lots faster, have function keys that allow add and delete from your scan list on the keypad (most other Chinese radios won’t allow this) and many other features not found on Baofeng, Wouxun, Puxing, and other Chinese models and brands. If you have any questions call Paul Stramer at 800 889 2839 in Montana. Look for an article soon on emergency comms from me.

    1. Good Paul. Include me on your send and I’ll make sure you get it posted. Thanks for all the good comms work you do.
      Elias Alias, editor

  12. I’ve been asked by some friends, local O.K. guys, to program their VHF UHF radios. Are there some channel frequencies for national that should be in them?

  13. Anything in the Central Florida area? I am a former 255N. I am interested in getting a HAM license and assisting. I have a BSEE, understand antenna design and also know networks with a CCNP and CISSP

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