18th MEDCOM (DS) Shifts To High Frequency
High Frequency radios have been used by the U.S. military for a few decades. Some branches of the Army adopted the Marine’s version of the high frequency radio in the 70s and used it successfully, until satellite communications and ground based retransmitting stations arrived to quickly erode away the high frequency radio skill.
During the new era of Army Transformation, the Department of the Army has decided to field a new era of high frequency radios. Soldiers from the 18th Medical Deployment Support Command received training on the Harris portable radio configuration or PRC 150 high frequency radio from Harris Communications Cooperation personnel during a basic operator’s course and an advanced communicator’s course at Schofield barracks 18-29 Jan.
George Poitras, technical trainer, and Tommy Mach, field engineer, from the Harris cooperation tactical radio division instructed the group on many different aspects of the radio. “The G6/S6 course, or advanced communicators course, allows those Soldiers to actually create radio plans to load into these radios, the basic operators course teaches all Soldiers how to load the operating plan given by the six shops, and know how to operate in all the different modes,” said Poitras.
“It was a very productive learning experience, and the system is great and easy to operate,” said SPC Dominique Ford, computer systems analyst. “We learned differences in signal complications of radio waves and how to program and setup the radios and different antenna systems.” The computerized remote programming application gives the communications Soldiers more control over each individual radio set.
“That application allows the communications personnel to build their communications plan and program all of their radios, which identifies each radio as its own station, allowing the communications personnel to be very, very specific when the radios are in operation,” said Mach. High frequency systems are the best substitution or backup when other radio systems shut down without warning, added Poitras.
“The difference between these radios and other military radios is that these can be used for beyond line of sight communications, so with a 20 watt radio you can regularly talk out to about a thousand miles,” said Poitras. “They’ve been around since Vietnam. The Army stopped using them at one point and the skill was lost. We are retraining the skill that used to be in every Army unit everywhere."
“This was a very well facilitated class, the instructors were very knowledgeable about the equipment, said Sgt. 1st Class Justin Fordice, force protection supervisor. “I was reluctant at the beginning, because I thought the class was more of a communications Soldiers training, but I quickly realized that this is a very high tech and useful equipment that every Army Soldier should know how to use.”