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the totality of means and methods that make it possible to exchange information in the interests of controlling military forces.
The main mission of military communications is to ensure that commanders and staffs at all levels are able to maintain continuous control of subordinate forces under any conditions and to communicate signals to the forces at the proper time concerning the threat of enemy attack and the implementation of combat readiness. The chief demands made on military communications are timeliness of establishment, reliability of operations, speed of action, and secrecy of transmitted information.
Initially, military communications was maintained through messengers (mounted and foot soldiers) and signals (for example, fires, landmarks, and drums). In the mid-19th century the electric telegraph was first used in the army. In the early 20th century, radio, radiotelegraph, and telephone communications were adopted. In the present-day armed forces, various types of military communications are used. Telephonic, telegraphic, phototelegraphic, and data transmission communications are carried on using wire and radio (radio relay and tropospheric) equipment. Messenger and postal communications are performed by mobile means, such as airplanes, helicopters, motor vehicles, and motorcycles. Signal equipment, such as rockets, lights, flags, and sirens, is used for signal communications, which make it possible to give short commands and to effect mutual identification, target acquisition, identification of friendly forces, and warnings.
Reliability in military communications is achieved by the combined use of different types of communications, depending on the battle situation. Military communications are organized on the basis of the commander’s decision, instructions from the chief of staff, and orders from higher headquarters, depending on the availability and the condition of the communications forces and equipment. The work is done by signal troops.