- RAAF Signals Operator Technical
Signals Operators Technical work in the sensitive field of
Signals Intelligence. They are required to collect and analyse foreign signals.
Intelligenceis the most sensitive form of intelligence for the Australian Government. Much of it carriers the highest classificationavailable with protects targets and capabilities.Who is targeted, where, when, how, the equipment's capabilities and limitations are what gives technical COMINTits extreme clandestine nature. Any release of such information could result in an alteration in target procedure or equipment, compromising a source, which in turn could result in devastating loss of access.Being so inscrutable, very little is know publicly of the details of operations, successors and otherwise, of this field. We must look back many years and internationally to Ultra, Magicand others to gain insight to this world. However, given the vast changes and proliferation of digital communication systems in recent decades, it should be noted that modern Technical COMINTwould bear little resemblance to these tales-of-old.
What's in a Name?
The first thing to note about the field is the title doesn't really do it justice. This is such a broad field that it is difficult to encapsulate in one succinct title. The title also dates back over 40 years when, despite the objectives being the same, the methods and techniques for achieving them were very different.In typical military fashion the title Signals Operator Technical is often abbreviated in the trade to SIGSOP(T). Personnel are often unofficially referred to as Technical Signals Analysts, Intelligence Analysts (Communications), Electronic Warfare Operators or COMINT Analysts.
Other Service Equivalencies
Source: http://www.defencejobs.gov.au, http://www.airforce.com/careers, http://www.mod.uk 02 October 2007Division
The Signals Operator Technical is broken into two separate specialisations. Analysts are able to move between the specialisations after a set period of time and training. Due to the magnitude of knowledge required to become an expert in either field however, personnel will find it considerably difficult to switch fields and obtain the required knowledge to be highly successful, particularly at a later stage in their career.
Electronic Intelligence (ELINT)
The analysis of non-communications radio frequency emissions such as beacons and radars. This complex study of ever evolving technologies allows the analyst to recognise capabilities and purpose of emissions and thus their platforms, providing valuable intelligence for the tasked operation or for strategic gain.Here we will refer to this area as ELINT Analysis
Technical Communications Intelligence (COMINT)
The analysis of technical data communications. This is by far the fastest growing and most complex of electronic warfare analysis. The number of new digital and machine generated data communications systems on offer today is staggering. Everything from the humble home computer network to modems, faxes, digital phone systems, aircraft and ship control systems, satellites and imagery systems all have a complex mechanisms for moving their data around and the number is growing everyday. From radio frequency energy to encoding, compression, encryption and more, the Technical Signals Analyst must understand these systems from “ground up” to be able to effectively identify the system and extract the required intelligence. This large quantity of data can provide valuable intelligence for the operation or for strategic gain.Here we will refer to this area as Technical COMINT Analysis.
It should be noted that a separate field of Signals Operator exists under the title Signals Operator Linguist. This category is tasked with collecting and disseminating of voice transmissions, and some dissemination of reported foreign language text. This largely revolves around transcription. The transcribed information can provide valuable intelligence for the tactical operation or for strategic gain. This article will however, only focus on the Technical categoriy.Due to the language requirements of this position the Signals Operator Linguist role is very different from its Technical cousin. A less quantitative and more qualitative mind-set is required to be successful in this position. For this reason personnel who have an aptitude for technical analysis are often unsuitable for linguistic roles and vice versa, therefore personnel are unable to move between this field and the technical fields without going through the full re-mustering process. Despite the name and often overlapping physical environment and echelon, the two trades are distinctly different.
Two primary working locations exist
*DSD Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
*RAAF Edinburgh, South Australia, AustraliaThe following secondary posts are not listed on the ADF's website but are believed to exist
*Unidentified, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
*Unidentified, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
*Defence Force School of Signals, Queensland, Australia (Training)
*Royal Australian Navy Tactical Electronic Warfare Support Service Nowra, New South Wales, AustraliaPrevious Posts
*3 Telecommunication Unit was previously a posting for Signals Operator Technical personnel
The Signals Operator Technical trade was known as Signals Operator prior to 2002. During this time the technical trades were combined with the linguist trade. The trade was split into two as, although the operating environment is often similar, the core skills were vastly different.
*Digital Signals Processing
*Complex Data Communication
*Communications Network Analysis
Technical COMINT in the Battlespace
Technical COMINT Analysts specialise in getting inside communications systems. The primary and most obvious benefit to this access is at a strategic level. Getting inside a targets communications structure gives you access to their unfiltered plans, opinions and capabilities.
The future for the Signals Operator Technical
*Huge quantity of data [ref. Pg 35, Secrets & Lies (Echelon)] .
*Huge array of data an analyst may be confronted with vice;
*Limited number of non-comms
*Specialist technical knowledge n support of known platforms
*Competent to a “Communications Engineering” standard. Compare to Engineer eg working on GSM only
*Difficulty in recruiting people due to abstruse nature of work.
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