… Heard it on the X – an interview with Tactical Associates UK
Tactical Associates, whilst individually both long standing contributing members of ‘Plastic Deth‘ community (Airsoft/MilSim) have been just going over a year.
In this short time they’ve rightfully accrued a considerable following, having delivered their bespoke communications and command net to a slew of high end MilSim and tactical immersion events – ‘RealSim’ such as CAG (Combat Airsoft Group) and Stirling.
They’ve also steadfastly garnered considerable attention in the outdoors lifestyle community providing communications for endurance events, often under less than clement weather conditions and over considerable distance.
Whilst naturally operating under the auspices of a going concern, an established business if you will. Their passion for high end kit and tip of the spear civilian and real steel communications and accessories surely make them an enviable asset for any event organization or MilSim.
Better yet, they are all but virtually permanently on call with technical support and friendly advice via any and all of their friendly, professional and informative social media platforms.
So, we’ll take some time to sit down and go behind the scenes with one of their number …
S23: Thanks and welcome aboard, you’ve had an incredibly busy year, and rapidly drawn global attention for all the right reasons. What can you tell us about Tactical Associates origins ?
TA: Originally Tactical Associates was set up to provide basic tactical training to people outside of military and law enforcement circles. However with the advent of Avalanche Endurances Events (AEE Ltd) the opportunity to develop a communications package for their events due to their arduous nature. Combined with our keen interests in HAM radio has brought us down the comms route and brought us to this point, supporting the leading outdoor Endurance events and MilSim companies in the UK and Europe.
S23: You provide communication solutions, amongst some other training options and regimes. What’s the overarching aim your seeking deliver, naturally realism is at the forefront, but I also understand that reliability from a safety vantage point too, is key here ?
TA: First and foremost, event safety is the main consideration, before we organize a command net and various chat nets we assign an event safety net as a matter of course, time and again on our endurance events and MilSim events this has proved to be vital.
One of the benefits of having a fully functioning command and control centre is that there is no delay in dealing with whatever drama that may have occurred out on the ground. On events with Avalanche Endurance Events our primary role is event safety and this has proved to be a very valuable system, and we have been called on to coordinate medical teams on a number of events, with 2 of our ground callsigns being engaged as both first responders and as signalers on the scene. Also the patrons of AEE are encouraged to purchase comms equipment and many of them have really gotten into this over the last few years, it has really made a difference.
What we learned with AEE has filtered into our MilSim support also, where we monitor a DS net as well as the various game nets, often coordinating 3-4 radio nets for 24hrs or more.
S23: So, you’ve had a busy calendar this year, with both MilSim and Endurance events attended both here in the UK and abroad, care to give us an AAR in broadest terms ?
TA: Yes it has been a rollercoaster this year, it started in the 1st week of January with the Avalanche Endurance Events and their inaugural Fan Dance Trident event, consisting of 3 route marches over the Brecon Becons in 24hrs, including a night march. This was a real test of our capabilities, with Dave remaining out on the hills for 2 days in very adverse conditions, as well as Andrew and Emmet, who, while providing signals support out on the ground were also taking part in the event, with temperatures dropping well below zero on the 2nd day. That event really set the tone for the year in our opinion, which continued with Combat Airsoft’s Groups Op. Eagle Fury in STANTA in April, which was an epic event.
During the summer we paired up with Stirling Airsoft, who wished to add a communications element to their events and this really has been a great pairing and over the last 6 months we have had the privilege of supporting them across the UK and Europe. Recently providing comms training and event coordination at one of their games in Spain.
Sterling Events demand a high standard from all involved and are truly a hard act to follow, but we have risen to the challenge and are looking forward too more events with them.
S23: I too for the last year, year and a half, have used Triumph Instruments 152 PRC handsets, and aside from a few headset issues these have proved immeasurably, a reliable solution for inter team communications. Whilst I know overall, your a fan, and have had for the most part has incredibly reliable success with both the 152’s and 117 base sets, a few teething problems have led you to explore alternative equipment, where are you at with that ?
TA: We have had some quality control issues with TRI as have many of our followers. This has been very frustrating for all of us, we have gotten great use out of the TRI equipment but the QA issues have left a sour taste. It is fine for us to pull apart a radio and make the necessary fixes, but in our opinion this is not good enough and not good enough for the community either!
As regards a replacement/upgrade, we as you know have been in touch with Kevin Chan at ToySoldier HK about the new Falco ANPRC 148 radio and judging by the spec we have been show and the conversations we have had with him the Falco will be a game changer. As an aside Dave, has during his time on operations in the real world used the real steel 148 and reckons the new Falco 148 is as near to the RS model as it gets, even down to the start up menu. So we are really looking forward to replacing our current inventory with the Falco 148.
S23: What’s the imperative driving point behind Tactical Associates, what’s key, in delivering successful reliable communications and command net ?
TA: First of all understanding the capabilities of the equipment, its all well and good looking ALLY. But that counts for nothing if you can’t operate the kit you have. So we are all fully versed in operating and trouble shooting the kit we employ. We also look to cross train on various types of radios/PTT’s and various ancillaries, so we can assist gamers in real time.
Secondly, being versatile in terms of trouble shooting (no pun intend) kit issues out on the ground taking the pressure of the callsigns that we are attached too, once we pair up with a callsign we immediately take over all signals traffic from “0” net and coordinate the chat net, freeing up the TL and ATL to focus on the tasking.
Lastly, information is key, and we seek to make sure that everything that is passed to us goes where it needs to go, including the collation of Intel and coordinating various ops from Recce to Direct Action, we do it all.
S23: Now, when not busy, I know both enjoy getting out in the field and mix it up a little. After all these years, be it a skirmish, training or even a full blown MilSim, what draws you to it ?
TA: The challenge, as clichéd as it sounds, but every game is different and we often get thrown curve balls at events and have to improvise and adapt to get the job done. There is nothing like hanging out of the back of a WMIK at 03:00 Hrs in the morning trying to re program a radio or attempting to establish comms in rugged terrain, while also remaining concealed. But we take it in our stride. Also it has to be said that we have had great support from Avalanche Endurance Events from the DS to the Patrons, who make the event. In the MilSim realm we have been very fortunate to work with Stirling Airsoft and their patrons, many of who have become firm friends and keep in contact with us about new developments and troubleshooting.
S23: Back on topic, whilst perhaps a small fortune need not be spent, yet, the epithet, buy right, buy once stands true – what advice would you give novices to the world of communication. Additionally common mistakes that can be avoided or solved with a little trouble shooting ?
TA: Well the old adage of buy cheap and buy twice is something we live by! With radios as well as kit it’s the same. Buy something decent, you don’t need to break the bank, a Baofeng UV5R dual band radio will set you back no more that £40 and for the money is it a brilliant intro. What you can learn from those radios will stand to you in good terms of programming and basic functions when you eventually move to the more expensive radios.
Some basic pointers off the top of our heads, get familiar with your radio, sit down on your own and make mistakes, train your teams up on the radio and keep your set up simple. It is important that you don’t just rely on your designated signaler to do all the donkey work, believe us when we say he has enough to be doing managing a chat net and Zero net. Often with both ears getting blown off him at the same time, watch your arc’s and let him get on with it!
Also, when passing messages back to Zero, keep it short and to the point and be clear with the information!
The Hereford Kit Company training plates stand out as a dual-purpose items for ‘Phys’ and for MilSim realism.
C2R-FAST plate carriers, which are made in Hereford for the locals and are of a high quality, we own 3 C2R carriers and nearly 3 full sets of pouches etc ….
They have also been massively supportive of us and we are currently designing some comms kit in conjunction with them for the New Year.
Platatac’s Ops Core helmet cover, is for the money the best helmet cover out there being highly versatile, we cannot recommend it enough!
We would also like to mention Mike P. over at AMTAC who has supported us all the way along and is always on hand with advise and assistance as well as cracking deals.
S23: great stuff, really appreciate you taking the time out to talk, obligatory last question I always like to ask (kind of a trademark), I’m a fan of 30 Rounds per mag, what’s your thoughts on this – could you see this perhaps bringing something new and fresh to game play if embraced by the masses ?
TA: As the accuracy of our weapons has improved we can see the logic behind 30rd’s and it would certainly be good to see a shift in this direction. It would make gamers think about what they are doing rather than spraying and praying. Time will tell on this one.
A huge thank you to Dave and Emmet taking the time out to talk through all they do. Be sure to get in touch with any technical questions or queries, you’ll undoubtedly find a friendly or more knowledgeable bunch – S23