PACE - Communication Plan

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PACE is an acronym and methodology used to build a communication plan.[1][2] PACE stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency means (i.e. technologies or systems) of communication.[3] The method requires the author to determine the different parties that need to communicate and then determine, if possible, the best four forms of communication between each of those parties. PACE also designates the order in which an element will move through available communications systems until contact can be established with the desired distant element(s).[4] Ideally each method will be completely separate and independent of the other systems of communication. For each method, the receiver must first sense which one the sender is using and then respond.

A PACE-based Communication Plan exists for a specific mission or task, not a specific unit, because the plan must consider both intra- and inter-unit sharing of information. An organization may have multiple plans for different situations, activities, and/or partners.

Per the US Army, a PACE Comm plan "designates the order in which an element will move through available communications systems until contact can be established with the desired distant element."[5]

A PACE plan is not a frequency plan (which details frequency allocation and radio spectrum characteristics) or band plan (to avoid interference) or channel plan (which details which channels users listen/talk upon)[6] or deployment plan (which details the users' radios types and locations).

Primary = the best and intended method of communication between parties.

Alternate = another common but less-optimal method of accomplishing the task. Often monitored concurrently with primary means.

Contingency = method will not be as fast/easy/inexpensive/convenient as the first two methods but is capable of accomplishing the task. Often (but undesirably) the receiver rarely monitors this method.

Emergency = method of last resort and typically has significant delays, costs, and/or impacts. Often only monitored when the others means fail.

A few examples.

  • PACE for the public radio station WYSO to share local news with a citywide audience might be Primary: FM radio, Alternate: streaming over the Internet, Contingency: local newspaper articles, and Emergency: direct mailing newsletters
    • PACE would not use a different FM transmitter, antenna, and/or frequency. Those are described as redundant Primary means.
  • PACE for an Army convoy to talk internally might be Primary: secure military radio, Alternate: secure satellite telephone, Contingency: cellular phones, and Emergency: courier.
    • PACE would not be changing channels, encryption, location, or power levels on the military radio. All of those still use the Primary means.
  • PACE for two suburban American families who live blocks apart might be Primary: text messaging via smartphones, Alternate: web-based email, Contingency: landline telephone, and Emergency: driving/biking/walking.
  • PACE for two Boy Scout patrols across a lake might be Primary: flag semaphore, Alternate: Morse code using clapping wood boards, Contingency: Morse code using a mirror, and Emergency: sending a boat across.


  1. ^ John Pike. "Preparation and Planning of Tactical Communications". Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  2. ^ "PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency) Survival Planning". Survival TTP. 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  3. ^ "Prepping 101: How to plan using PACE". 2014-03-01. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  4. ^ MAJ MICHAEL S. RYAN. "A SHORT NOTE ON PACE PLANS" (PDF). U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
  5. ^
  6. ^