What is Old is New Again: 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Innovates with High Frequency

By CPT Ryan AndersenFebruary 27, 2023

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HI - High-frequency signals range between three to 30 megahertz (MHz) and are also known as short waves with wavelengths between 10 and 100 meters. The earth's ionosphere reflects HF communications, making long-distance communication possible. International broadcasting, weather reports, amateur radio, over-the-horizon radio, and aeronautical communications are a few uses for HF.

High Frequency Training
Soldiers from across the Division participate in High Frequency training hosted by 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team S6 team. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Brenden Delgado ) VIEW ORIGINAL
“Using Tactical Satellite (TACSAT) radios and Wi-Fi was always pressing the easy button. In our Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center (JPMRC) rotation, the opposing force jammed our access to satellites and denied 5G cellular coverage. It quickly became apparent that the Army's once primary way to communicate, HF, had become a lost art," says Maj. Justin James, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team's Communications Officer.

The PRC 160 Wideband HF/VHF Tactical Radio System, which transmits data in bandwidths from three kHz to 24 kHz, is the smallest, lightest, fastest, Type 1-certified HF manpack available today. A sky wave transmission with a horizontal dipole antenna can reach distances upwards of 1200 km, the lengths required for units in Hawaii to get forces forward postured in the Philippines, Australia, and Indonesia.

2nd Infantry Combat Team hosted a 40-hour course which included 4G Automatic Link Setup, Mission Planning, HF Field Expedient Antennas, and Tactical Chat (TACHAT).

The course's highlight is instruction's latest PRC-160 software feature called Last Ditch Data (LDD). LDD enables radiotelephone operators to monitor 16 simultaneous incoming messages up to 160 characters.

Intelligence Officer, Maj. Kevin Hawkins states that he can train Soldiers to "Tweet", making this new technology resonate more with junior Soldiers. In addition, Staff Sgt. Eric Zhong, Spectrum Manager, states that LDD has tactical applications such as scouts on the front lines sending spot reports back to headquarters in the rear, 9-line medevacs, and even calls for fire.

The brigade is looking forward to using these lessons on their upcoming deployment to Operation Pathways 2023, where the brigade will participate in exercises such as Salaknib, Balikatan, Tiger Balm, Southern Jackaroo, Garuda Shield, and Pahlawan Warrior.

CPT Ryan Andersen is the 2nd Brigade Combat Team's Information Systems Engineer (26B) who loves diversifying the brigade's data. For further information on the PRC 160, Last Ditch Data, and all things data, he can be reached at NIPR: ryan.p.andersen6.mil@army.mil.