Two-way radios aren’t standard equipment for every soldier, but the battlefield can be a confusing place. Now convoy troops and other soldiers in Iraq have resorted to buying simple off-the-shelf walkie-talkie units for use in Iraq. Commanders aren’t pleased with the practice, as it allows a great deal of insecure radio chatter that could make troops vulnerable to ambush. Mind you, the Army shouldn’t be surprised. During the USMC’s “Urban Warrior 98” exercise, similar devices called “ISRs” were one of the big hits with the Marines.
To address this issue, FCW.com reports that 40,000 secure radios are being rushed (should arrive in Q1 or Q2 of 2005) to Iraq. Each brigade is to receive about 1,000 IC-F43G radios at a cost of about $1,200 per unit. An army spokesperson said the Army also started an emergency procurement of about 20,000 single-channel air/ground units that operate in the 30 MHz to 80MHz range. Those cost between $6,000 and $14,000 a piece. They are supposed to hit Iraq at a rate of about 300 per month until February, when the rate should increase into the thousands per month. See also FCW.com: Troops in Iraq buy own radios