The Importance of a NO COMMS Plan

Verbal communication is essential to so many activities in our lives today. It is the foundation of human interaction.

Whether you're getting a coffee, closing a multibillion-dollar acquisition or you just need to know where your kids are, it is critical to establish and maintain this vital function.

So, what do you do when you grab your cell phone out of your pocket and it's not working? Or on a more massive scale, what do you do if the electric grid goes down and there's no cell service PERIOD?

In the SEAL teams, during mission planning and rehearsal, we would train for the best-case scenario and plan for the worst. In every operation, this included a "NO COMMS" plan.

Basically, this was a plan of action we instituted in the event we lost all verbal communications and had no backup power source to reconnect.

It is a predetermined series of "hard" times, locations and visual/audible signals — which I will detail shortly.

Are the kids okay?

Next weekend, I will be hosting my good friend and his family at my remote place in the mountains of Colorado. They joined me here last summer where we hiked and camped at a nearby lake referred to as the "mystery in the mountains" because so few people know about it.

They enjoyed it so much that my friend's sons want to return on their own for another over-nighter. There will be four of them between the ages of 14-18 making the trek. They plan to set up camp next to the lake at an elevation of just under 10,000 feet – with ZERO cellphone service.

When I heard the kids wanted to do this without the adults around, I was fired up. It's an incredible learning experience. Absolutely! But their mom is a little worried, as any mom would be given the lack of verbal comms.

But I reassured her that there is a way for us to know if they are OK. Even more importantly, for us to know if they need help.

"NO COMMS" plan

Here is what we did in the SEAL Teams in the event of a loss or lack of verbal communication. This is also what the boys will do during their little adventure.

1. Twice a day at a specific time (this is very important – example: 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.) the boys will fire two gunshots into the air. You can easily hear a gunshot for miles and since it's not hunting season yet we will know it's them.

While enjoying the comforts of my home (base camp), we will return the shots with two of our own. This means that everything is OK.

(Note: There were obvious situations during SEAL operations where it was tactically wrong to use our weapons to signal. That's why it's key to stick with a very strict time and place schedule in the event of a loss of comms.)

2. If over 30 minutes passes from the "hard time" and we don't hear any shots, we will fire two rounds into the air. Boys will be boys and it's possible they may have lost track of time.

3. If we do not hear any shots returned within 10 minutes, we will assume the worst and head up to their campsite.

4. In the event of an emergency, the boys will take with them at least six marine style (airborne) signal flares. These can be purchased at any boat store or marina.

They have been instructed to fire one of these toward "base camp" (only in the event of an emergency) every five minutes until we return the signal with a flare of our own. This will tell them we are on our way.

5. Finally, if all else fails, we have a hard time and place when and where we will pick them up. In this case, it is the trail head for the hike to the lake.

Now, the above is a very specific NO COMMS plan for this situation. But you can do the same thing with your family should some type of crisis occur – or even just for practice in a fun, relaxed setting like this one.

Because while having a backup power source is the ultimate way to protect yourself from losing communication from your loved ones, and keeping up with valuable information in a crisis... having a meet up plan in place is the best way to avoid losing all communication.

It's as simple as "everyone will meet at this time at this location if we are not in communication." Be sure to establish multiple options in case someone can't make the meeting for any reason.

Even if you never need to enact your no comms plan, you should definitely have one in place.

Be a survivor... not a statistic,

Cade Courtley
Former Navy SEAL / 4Patriots Contributor



  • Gail O'Reilly - January 30, 2020

    Hello, my youngest son will be a peace officer soon. First he takes an emt course, then fire fighter training, then the police academy. These people wear 3 different hats at the same time. My son is definitely interested in buying some of his own equipment. He told me to wait until he finds out what he will be issued. THEN, that’s when Mom steps in. I will be ordering from you. I don’t usually see first aid supplies (air splints, gauze etc). Do you have supplies like this or have access to a good company that does? The other thing I want to get for him are night vision binoculars. His area will include rural territory. I am just in the thinking stage right now. Will know more in a few months.

  • LIbby C. - January 30, 2020

    So thankful for these ! Got one for each family!

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