One COMM Link One Fight

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michael Matkin
  • 161 ARW Public Affairs
When natural disasters hit, it is usually without warning. This can cause communication chaos between first responders and other local, state, and federal agencies, because communications systems are often totally knocked out in the aftermath of a fire or an earthquake.

To bridge the multiple communication gaps and open the lines of communication between agencies, a Joint Incident Site Communications Capability can be deployed. Deployed in each state by the National Guard Bureau, the JISCC is able to arrive at an incident site, providing global communications within one hour.

Servicemembers from the 161st Communications Squadron, 107th Air Control Squadron and the 162nd Communications Squadron, as well as Arizona Army National Guard members jointly participated in an exercise deploying a JISCC.

"We practiced the entire deployment of the JISCC package, from breaking it out of the trailer to setting it up, as well as powering it and performing operational checks," said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Stratton 161st Air Refueling Wing network cyber systems operations. "It only took us about thirty minutes to set up the antennas, but to have the whole JISCC set up, including the tent, it took about four hours."

The system has an array of computer and communications equipment and comes with its own tent. However, the system can also be set up inside a standing structure. The focal point of the system is a 33-foot antenna. It gives the system capabilities to communicate over high frequency, ultra high frequency, very high frequency and 800 megahertz channels. This capability is vital in the aftermath of a disaster. Among other capabilities, the JISCC can link an incident site anywhere in the nation to state and national headquarters. It also has the capability to connect to cellular telephones and home telephones; it make conflicting communication systems compatible.

As the JISCC continues to expand its capabilities with new enhancements such as upgraded antennas, new generators, which allow the JISCC to run non-stop without having to ever power down and better integration with different communication devices, said Staff Sgt. Anthony Reynolds, 161 ARW cyber systems operations.

To train the unit on these new capabilities Chuck Fiorentino, a civilian senior engineer with Applied Global Technologies, was on hand to instruct servicemembers on how to deploy the JISCC, set up the components of the kit, safety, security, and standard operating procedures.

"It is important to me [as a civilian] to be able to come out here and train [servicemembers] on the use of the JISCC equipment," said Mr. Fiorentino. "It has been a privilege to train [servicemembers] on this kit.

The kit they deployed was the new Block 2-C kit, which covers everything from radios to video-conferencing, networks to phones, and even generators and a trailer, said Mr. Fiorentino.

"It has been a great training opportunity to set the whole thing up and use it. Even taking everything down and packing it back up at the end of the week was a tremendous training opportunity and now it is ready to be deployed again if a real-world or training opportunity arises," said Sergeant Stratton.