Personal Two-Way Radios Banned In Bosnia

spectr17

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Personal Two-Way Radios Banned In Bosnia

Sean E. Cobb, European Stars and Stripes

July 10, 2002

Stabilization Force officials have confiscated personal two-way radios that many soldiers used to communicate with squad members while patrolling in Bosnia.

"The use of commercial radios is not authorized by U.S. Army Europe and Stabilization Force policy," said Maj. Nancy Makowski, a spokeswoman for Multi-National Division, North. "These are longstanding policies."

The radios were confiscated the day after a Stars and Stripes story reported that many soldiers preferred the radios — which they brought from the States or purchased through a base exchange — over the Army-issue radios.

"My personal radio was taken, and I haven’t seen it since," said Spc. Michael Hurst, a soldier in Company C, 1st Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment of the Indiana National Guard at Camp McGovern, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Soldiers were given receipts for their confiscated radios and may claim their radios at the end of their rotation, Makowski said.

According to Capt. Michael Campbell, a communications officer with the Multi-National Division, North, the radios were authorized for use in Bosnia until June 26, the day of the Stripes story. After radios were confiscated on June 27, SFOR officials stated that the hand-held personal radios were approved only for use around camp.

"Soldiers are free to purchase hand-held radios at the local PX for their personal use," Makowski said in a June 28 statement.

However, by July 3, Army officials had banned all uses of the radios because they use frequencies not approved for military use in Bosnia, Makowski said.

The controversial radios are small, hand-held units using Family Radio Service frequencies set aside for use in the United States by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FRS radios cannot be used in most developed European countries because those countries have assigned the radio frequencies for other uses.

Officials at the Army’s 5th Signal Command, which has oversight for communications in the Balkans peacekeeping missions, could not determine if the Bosnian government has taken control of FRS frequencies.

The Army issues radios to soldiers for patrols, but its hand-held Icom F3S radio — similar to an FRS radio — currently goes only to regular Army units. National Guard and Reserve units are left without Army hand-held radios, which is why some soldiers said they used their personal FRS radios.

The Indiana National Guard unit is serving a six-month rotation at Camp McGovern that ends in September.

One platoon sergeant at Camp Morgan said taking away the personal radios hinders his soldiers’ ability to do their mission.

"This action will seriously hamper the operations of my unit, as well as that of other units in the theater," said the sergeant, who asked not to be identified.

Soldiers in his platoon now have no communication radios while away from their vehicles, he said.

National Guard units are using "two paper cups and some string," said an Army specialist assigned to Camp McGovern who requested anonymity.

SFOR officials acknowledged that loss of the FRS radios caused a communication gap, but said are working to remedy it.

"The Task Force Eagle command is currently developing a plan to redistribute its approved squad radios so that soldiers on patrol have the equipment the mission requires," Makowski said.

"The command is also working on solutions to the longer-term problem of acquiring sufficient short-range radios through Army purchasing channels so that follow-on National Guard rotations have the equipment they need," she said.

Some National Guard units thought they had their squad-level communication problems solved before they came to Bosnia by purchasing FRS radios with state funds, Makowski said in the June 28 statement.

"My unit has been using the FRS radios for years in training," the platoon sergeant said.

"[The FRS radios] just work better than anything out there."

Commanders of different units around SFOR have established different policies for treatment of the FRS radios, Makowski said.

Some soldiers were given the option of turning in the radio to military officials or mailing the radios back to the States, Makowski said.

"The commander has the authority and the responsibility to protect his forces. If he believes that the unsecure radios pose an operational security risk, he is authorized to remove those radios from soldiers," according to Col. Richard Jackson, the division’s staff judge advocate, in a statement issued after consultation with the U.S. Army Europe Office of the Judge Advocate.

Commanders are telling soldiers who still possess a personal FRS radios they could receive an Article 15 for failure to follow a direct order, the specialist said.

"Soldiers should never be punished for trying to do the right thing," Makowski said.

"There was never any intention to penalize the soldiers for showing initiative in accomplishing their mission."

Army leaders are just trying to enforce Army communications policies, Makowski said.
 



spectr17

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Personal Two-Way Radios Banned In Bosnia

Sean E. Cobb, European Stars and Stripes

July 10, 2002

Stabilization Force officials have confiscated personal two-way radios that many soldiers used to communicate with squad members while patrolling in Bosnia.

"The use of commercial radios is not authorized by U.S. Army Europe and Stabilization Force policy," said Maj. Nancy Makowski, a spokeswoman for Multi-National Division, North. "These are longstanding policies."

The radios were confiscated the day after a Stars and Stripes story reported that many soldiers preferred the radios — which they brought from the States or purchased through a base exchange — over the Army-issue radios.

"My personal radio was taken, and I haven’t seen it since," said Spc. Michael Hurst, a soldier in Company C, 1st Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment of the Indiana National Guard at Camp McGovern, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Soldiers were given receipts for their confiscated radios and may claim their radios at the end of their rotation, Makowski said.

According to Capt. Michael Campbell, a communications officer with the Multi-National Division, North, the radios were authorized for use in Bosnia until June 26, the day of the Stripes story. After radios were confiscated on June 27, SFOR officials stated that the hand-held personal radios were approved only for use around camp.

"Soldiers are free to purchase hand-held radios at the local PX for their personal use," Makowski said in a June 28 statement.

However, by July 3, Army officials had banned all uses of the radios because they use frequencies not approved for military use in Bosnia, Makowski said.

The controversial radios are small, hand-held units using Family Radio Service frequencies set aside for use in the United States by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FRS radios cannot be used in most developed European countries because those countries have assigned the radio frequencies for other uses.

Officials at the Army’s 5th Signal Command, which has oversight for communications in the Balkans peacekeeping missions, could not determine if the Bosnian government has taken control of FRS frequencies.

The Army issues radios to soldiers for patrols, but its hand-held Icom F3S radio — similar to an FRS radio — currently goes only to regular Army units. National Guard and Reserve units are left without Army hand-held radios, which is why some soldiers said they used their personal FRS radios.

The Indiana National Guard unit is serving a six-month rotation at Camp McGovern that ends in September.

One platoon sergeant at Camp Morgan said taking away the personal radios hinders his soldiers’ ability to do their mission.

"This action will seriously hamper the operations of my unit, as well as that of other units in the theater," said the sergeant, who asked not to be identified.

Soldiers in his platoon now have no communication radios while away from their vehicles, he said.

National Guard units are using "two paper cups and some string," said an Army specialist assigned to Camp McGovern who requested anonymity.

SFOR officials acknowledged that loss of the FRS radios caused a communication gap, but said are working to remedy it.

"The Task Force Eagle command is currently developing a plan to redistribute its approved squad radios so that soldiers on patrol have the equipment the mission requires," Makowski said.

"The command is also working on solutions to the longer-term problem of acquiring sufficient short-range radios through Army purchasing channels so that follow-on National Guard rotations have the equipment they need," she said.

Some National Guard units thought they had their squad-level communication problems solved before they came to Bosnia by purchasing FRS radios with state funds, Makowski said in the June 28 statement.

"My unit has been using the FRS radios for years in training," the platoon sergeant said.

"[The FRS radios] just work better than anything out there."

Commanders of different units around SFOR have established different policies for treatment of the FRS radios, Makowski said.

Some soldiers were given the option of turning in the radio to military officials or mailing the radios back to the States, Makowski said.

"The commander has the authority and the responsibility to protect his forces. If he believes that the unsecure radios pose an operational security risk, he is authorized to remove those radios from soldiers," according to Col. Richard Jackson, the division’s staff judge advocate, in a statement issued after consultation with the U.S. Army Europe Office of the Judge Advocate.

Commanders are telling soldiers who still possess a personal FRS radios they could receive an Article 15 for failure to follow a direct order, the specialist said.

"Soldiers should never be punished for trying to do the right thing," Makowski said.

"There was never any intention to penalize the soldiers for showing initiative in accomplishing their mission."

Army leaders are just trying to enforce Army communications policies, Makowski said.
 

karstic

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Why doesn't the platoon radio repairman just tweak the FRS radios to operatew on the Army frequencies. The National Guard units have found a cost-effective solution to an essential need on the battlefield and they're getting busted. No bueno.
 

spectr17

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FRS freq tweaking isn't easy, it's against FCC rules and from what I remember, Army freqs are not near FRS channels.

The other problem is you have to abide by a country's freq assignment which is set by international treaties. If you plop down several hundred troops in a foreign country using a radio on say their train data channel, big problems can happen.

Canada is the only foreig ncountry that allows FRS radio use or sale.  Don't even try to use them in Mexico, the Federalis really get their undies in a bunch over that.
 


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