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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 05/25/2003 20:22:43 EDT
Subject: Codes, More Concerning

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Hello Eric,

I thought I'd throw in a little more feedback as a follow-up to mine on the subject of re-enacting codes I'd posted on the 24th. instant. Most signallists who have ever seen four code sheets on the same page for the first time may find the prospect of using it quite daunting. I wanted to add though, that, like most never-before-tried signal operations, working with all or some of these codes at events becomes doable or second-natured with practice.

Rich Dee's statements in his "How" post of 05/20/2003 18:46:54 EDT gives us an excellent example of why a flag-man might think using (or should I say having access to) all of these codes is a bother at smaller re-enactments. Rich relates:

"If you are like me, trying to come up to speed as well as educate, the effort is even more challenging. For us, our participation in large scale events is so small, that there is little opportunity to show our stuff."

Practicing with the essential codes; plaintext, precencerted, stutter, medical emergency, and a signature code will prepare you for whatever a field commander might throw at you. Do you you use all of these codes at every event? No. Hopfully the code you'll be using the least will be the medical emergency code, but when you need it you'll have it. Just sending MM doesn't cut it because one of two things might occur:

1. The entire engagement might screech to a halt when it might not have to.

2. The next words after the commander recv's your announcement of there being a medical emergency on the field might be, "What is the extent or severity of the injuries?" Without the code you can tell him nothing more of importance. In many cases, knowing of an emergency and what is being done about it can make all the difference. A commander will instantly place you in high regard by keeping him informed as to what you know is occurring on the field.

One of the little lines you might use prior to an engagement (in a very subtle way) is to get a commander to use you and your codes on a more regular basis is to tell him that, working to-gether, you'll both be able to succeed and employ some very effective field communication in a period fashion as you both come away with a successful event and are rewarded with future and larger scale re-enactment responsibilities. Make sure that you signallists can back up your claim before you reassure the commander that he can place his trust in you. Continue to encourage him to anticipate the troop movements at small scale events that you (and the commander who'll be getting the orders for movement) might have a few minutes to react. Tell him to imagine what he is doing would be amplified if the manoever were actually taking place on the original battle ground.

One of the ways I've used to help bring a situation into context is to have an officer tell me that he'd just as soon walk a message that I was hoping to deliver by telegraph is by saying, "With all due respect, the command you're looking for is 'historically' 6 miles down that lane." Of course he and I both know that the group he's looking for is just over the hill or beyond a treeline but what I always try to do is to give my co-actors the feel for what it would have been like instead of 'hey! this is only a re-enactment. In many cases this works, both for those outside of signal operations as well as those within the emulating communication detachments.

Make it Count. Make it Realistic. Make it Memorable


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