Version 1 / 5min read / Updated Sat 21 Aug 2021 / 281 views / of verified
What are callsigns
Callsigns or tactical callsigns are assigned as unique identifiers to military communications. Callsigns are typically assigned to a platoon sized unit or higher. Military communications are conducted from callsign to callsign. During tactical radio communications, from Squad networks and above, names of personnel are never used in communications, callsigns are used instead.
How callsigns work
Deployment ORBATs in UNITAF have callsigns which are assigned by the deployments Field Leader, callsigns come from a pre-approved callsign list. Some callsigns are from the phonetic alphabet, ALPHA, BRAVO CHARLIE etc. However many other callsigns exist, and can carry themes such as birds, animals and chess pieces. Callsigns are usually words which are short, easy to say, remember and to understand.
In UNITAF Callsigns are assigned to Platoons or to Companies. When a Platoon is assigned a callsign, all subordinate elements of the Platoon also adopt that callsign. A simple example of how this works is outlined below.
- Platoon HQ (ALPHA 9)
- Platoon Sergeant (ALPHA 8)
- Platoon RTO (ALPHA 7)
Platoon Medic (ALPHA 6)
1st Squad (ALPHA 1-0)
- 1st Squad 1st Fireteam (ALPHA 1-1)
1st Squad 2nd Fireteam (ALPHA 1-2)
2nd Squad (ALPHA 2-0)
- 2nd Squad 1st Fireteam (ALPHA 2-1)
2nd Squad 2nd Fireteam (ALPHA 2-2)
3rd Squad (ALPHA 3-0)
- 3rd Squad 1st Fireteam (ALPHA 3-1)
- 3rd Squad 2nd Fireteam (ALPHA 3-2)
Shortening of callsigns
As explained earlier Brevity in communications is important and so using your full callsign on every transmission can be time consuming. There are times and rules surrounding when callsigns can be shortened.
As a general rule, if you are speaking to an element that is not from the same superior callsign as yours, then you must always use your full callsign in all messages. When communicating internally in your platoon or squad for example, assuming all subordinate elements of your Platoon or Squad carry the same callsign, then it is acceptable to shortern your callsign to just the numerical assignment of your element.
Important: the first time in any deployment that two callsigns exchange a transmission, the full callsign is always used.
|Situation||Full Callsign Usage||Shorterned||Explaination|
|Platoon HQ (Alpha 9) to 1st Squad (Alpha 1-0)||"ALPHA WUN ZERO, THIS IS ALPHA NINER"||"WUN THIS IS NINER"||"ALPHA" is dropped because both elements carry the same callsign.|
|1st Squad (Alpha 1-0) to Platoon FAC (Alpha 8)||"ALPHA AIT, THIS IS ALPHA WUN ZERO"||"AIT THIS IS WUN"||"ALPHA" is dropped because both elements carry the same callsign.|
|3rd Squad, 1st Fireteam (Alpha 3-1) to Platoon Commander||"ALPHA ACTUAL, THIS IS ALPHA TREE WUN"||"ACTUAL THIS IS TREE WUN"||"ALPHA" is dropped because both elements carry the same callsign. ACTUAL is used as the trasmittor is trying to speak to the commander proper.|
|Platoon HQ (Alpha 9) to Company Command (Delta 9)||"DELTA NINER, THIS IS ALPHA NINER"||"DELTA, THIS IS ALPHA"||"NINER" / 9 is dropped because both elements are from seperate callsigns.|
A callsign represents a military unit or it's function in it's entireity, and not any specific person in that callsign. The callsign "ACTUAL" is used when the transmitting station wishes to speak to the commander of that callsign. During normal radio operations any given Platoon Leader, Platoon Sergeant or the Radio Operator (if applicable) may reply to incoming traffic. Only the Platoon Leader proper will answer to the call sign "ACTUAL" (for example ALPHA ACTUAL), whereas the Platoon leader's radio-telephone operator (or other designee) will answer to the call sign itself (without the "Actual") as a matter of routine.
Actual is appended to the end of a callsign, but in the case where all callsigns on a frequency are of the same callsign, the callsign ACTUAL can be used independently. It's worth noting that in most cases, the Platoon Leader will reply to the callsign without ACTUAL anyway, unless they are using an RTO for the bulk of their communications.
ALPHA 9, ALPHA 8, ALPHA 7..
In platoon and company headquarter elements, there are many personnel that use radios and that communicate with external units such as higher-headquarters or support attachments and they each will have a unique callsign. The assignment of Company or Platoon headquarters staff works in reverse from the number 9, where 9 is the commander of that callsign. Typically, the second-in-command will be 8, forward air controllers, observers or medics can be 7, 6 and so on.
UNITAF Standard Operating procedures (SOP) are adapted primarly from US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Our written and audio procedures are a combination of the following primary source materials, as well as our own learnings, modifications and adaptations:
- US Army Techniques Publication, Infantry Platoon and Squad (ATP 3-21.8)
- Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks Warrior Leader Skills Level 2, 3, and 4 (STP 21-24-SMCT)
- The Warrior Ethos and Soldier Combat Skills (FM 3-21.75 / FM 21-75)
- Leadership Development (FM 6-22)
- Dyslexi's Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures for Arma 3 (TTP3)