I served in the Army Reserve from 2005 to 2011, with a deployment to Joint Base Balad, Iraq in 2008-2009. I was part of the Army Signal Corps, a 25U Signal Support Systems Specialist, essentially a radio and IT technician; I was embedded in the S6 shops of an administrative brigade (651st ASG) and a logistics battalion (259th CSSB).

The IT side was all garden-variety COTS systems like Windows XP and CAT5 cables, and most of it is not terribly interesting to relate.

On the radio side, this list is some of the specialized military equipment I used.

VHF FM radios

  • SINCGARS family of radios: RT-1523, models A through F
    • The SINCGARS had data protocols available, but I only ever had a chance to use voice.
    • The E and F were much smaller and lighter! And in manpack configuration the battery fit inside the radio housing instead of requiring a bulky additional battery box.
  • OE-254/GRC mast antenna
    • This broadband biconical antenna covers 30 to 88 MHz with low SWR, perfect for frequency hopping across the entire band on the SINCGARS.
  • AS-3900A/VRC vehicular whip antenna
  • AS-3683A/PRC manpack blade antenna
  • Occasionally the AS-4266A/PRC manpack tent-pole antenna
  • H250/U hand mic
    • Don’t you dare try to use the H350 with SINCGARS! It looks the same and has the same plug but an incompatible pinout.
    • Check out this PS Magazine feature on the 250/350 issue. PS Magazine was always entertaining.
  • LS-671/VRC loudspeaker
  • Retransmission operations with the “dog bone” cable CX-13298
    • One time at a field exercise, I drove an hour out of base to the retrans site, only to realize I was missing this critical component. That’s the last time I forgot to do inventory and dry-run!
  • AM-7238/VRC amplifier

Crypto devices

  • Mainly the AN/CYZ-10 ANCD data transport device
  • A couple of times I got to use the AN/PYQ-10 SKL data transport device (good ol’ Windows CE)
  • I never used the KYK-13, but heard many an NCO wax poetic about their simplicity and reliability

GPS receivers


I was trained on several systems in AIT that I never got to use in the field.

  • Tactical Satellite (TACSAT) - I believe on the AN/PRC-117 with an AV 2040 antenna.
  • Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) - a tactical cell phone system
  • TA-1042A/U Digital Non-Secure Voice Terminal (DNVT) - wired field telephones
  • Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) - a data network similar to APRS
    • Features its own TDOA locating that can be used in GPS-denied environments
  • Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) and Blue Force Tracker (BFT)

While it wasn’t exactly a 25U responsibility, one year for Annual Training I helped set up MILES gear for our unit.