An Operational Example
Here is an operational example of a situation where there was no lead time, no preparation time to plan for a response to a politically tense situation, and yet there was need for close coordination between those directing the fight and those fighting the fight.
I was an A7-E light attack pilot on the USS Nimitz. Sadat had been assassinated in 1981 and the boat was directed to a station off the coast of Lebanon. Once getting there the A7's were kept on 5 minute alerts throughout the night. Fully armed with APAM, I can remember sitting in the aircraft at 3:45 in the morning. It was difficult to keep my mind and body ready for a five minute launch into a night attack in an unfamiliar territory and minimal guidance.
But we had our Forward Air Controllers (FAC) and they were good. In fact, all of the controllers I had throughout my 2 tours were very professional, and excellent at what they did. The FAC is in the country, on the ground, maybe in the air, directing the aerial attack assets. A brief description would be that they keep the aircraft in holding patterns, bring them in on specific targets, and further direct the attack by helping the pilot identify the target. Think of your own in-flight/approach controller managing a combat attack.
They had come out to the ship earlier and briefed the pilots on radio communications and procedures. I remember being given a bunch of colored knee board cards in this really small, cramped courier type. Made me smile, because at night in the red light of the cockpit, coming in for a strike they would have been unreadable. So I studied them when I wasn't flying and memorized their information. They were loaded with stuff about procedures, holding points, timing, call signs, authentication, etc.
Having the face-to-face communication was a great way to prepare for the engagement where several countries, and different agencies, were coordinating a military response.
Practice & Discipline versus Deceit
Here is another way to frame the question. What often gets neglected in these sorts of discussions is the role cunning and deceit play in combat. I remember coming through my first air-combat-maneuvering training syllabus. Outside the ready room were quotes from famous Aces. I remember a quote from the top Japanese Ace in WWII. He said that for 90% of his kills his adversary never saw him. He just flew up under their 6 and shot them down.
The practice and preparation I experienced in the Fleet seldom included exercises which exposed weaknesses to "infiltration." In the following post there is an interesting example where coordination within a battle group was compromised with deceit and patience. In this case there were multiple assets being directed by unfamiliar controllers: What is the average speed used by modern jet fighters when in dogfight?
I heard this sort of thing talked about only two times. Once was with a new pilot who came into our squadron. He asked, "Why are we using the same tactics for a war-at-sea strike that we have used for the last 20 years, and with which the Russians are now quite familiar?" His question was never addressed by our command, although he and I discussed the problem in depth and attempted to address the issue ourselves.
Situational awareness and the ability to think outside the box is what keeps a pilot alive. A dogfight I participated in emphasizes this fact. Effective communication only gets you so far. Is it possible to perform a spin recovery in IMC?
More importantly, the second time I heard this topic brought up was when we were preparing for a particular real world engagement. It was noted that the Russians would have English speaking agents on the Net. They wouldn't be speaking perfect English, but native English, and would be difficult to distinguish from other American pilots. That is the threat.
You can have the most secure communications, and I will find a way to deceive you, and then the complacency your security has encouraged will be your worst enemy. In this case discipline and preparedness protect the flight. Practice like you will fight.