Missouri National Guardsmen learn how to use an Icom radio during a practical exercise on Joint Incident Site Communications Capability terminals at the Ike Skelton Training Site. The JISCC command and control trailers feature advanced communications systems that can rapidly deploy anywhere in the U.S. to enable vital interagency communications at the site of a man-made or natural disaster. (Photo by Sarah E. Lupescu, Missouri National Guard).
By Sarah E. Lupescu
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Sixteen Missouri National Guardsmen trained on communication equipment at the Ike Skelton Training Site in preparation for Vigilant Guard, a statewide exercise that is scheduled for early November.
Soldiers and Airmen learned how to use Joint Incident Site Communications Capability terminals - a system used to bridge communications between first responders and other local, state and federal agencies - during a two-week course.
"The state has three JISSC," said Maj. Frederick Robinson, a member of the 1107th Aviation Group based out of Springfield. "We're doing training on two of them to ensure system compatibility and that we don't have any problems."
In the event that a state emergency were to occur, the Missouri National Guard can deploy to the incident site and set up their JISSC. The JISCC command and control trailers feature advanced communications systems that can be rapidly deployed anywhere in the U.S. for vital interagency communications at the site of a man-made or natural disaster. The JISCC trailers integrate secure satellite and wireless communications, land mobile radios, high frequency automatic link establishment, voice-over-IP telephones, and video teleconferencing for a complete, self-contained solution. This end-to-end system delivers high- bandwidth connectivity even where the infrastructure is severely damaged.
The JISCC terminals are a great step forward in achieving reliable interoperability during a disaster response. By tying together the high-bandwidth capabilities of satellite-enabled communications with wireless and land mobile radio systems, first responders from different agencies can communicate through one common system locally and at long distances.
"Wherever they decide they need a command center set up, we'll go there and can provide telephones and Internet to civilian agencies there so they can coordinate the state's response to whatever kind of emergency may be going on," Robinson said. "We would work hand-in-hand with them while providing those services."
One way that Internet can be provided is through an Icom radio that is part of the JISSC package.
"The Icom allows us to send e-mail over high frequency radio," said Sgt. Arthur Little, a member of the Homeland Response Force based out of Jefferson Barracks. "So if the network goes down and we aren't able to use a satellite, for whatever reason, we could utilize HF radio to use radio transmission to send e-mail."
Learning how to set up a JISSC and how to operate each of its functions is an important asset for the Missouri National Guard.
"If there is a state emergency it's going to be hectic, especially if there is no communication between agencies," said Staff Sgt. Brian Cubic, a member of the 1107th Aviation Group. "This allows command and control to come in and get organized. And that can help save lives."
Cubic has a military background in information operations, but the two-week course was a great learning experience.
"I don't get to work with satellite dishes very much," Cubic said. "So doing satellite acquisition, getting a signal to provide Internet and phone lines, and being able to integrate first responders' radios into ours so that we can have a complete communications grid established at a site, was a lot of information to take in."
The training staff from the 193rd Regiment Regional Training Institute from the Delaware National Guard put in extra effort to make sure those in training had a firm grasp on the JISSC terminals.
"The instructors are very knowledgeable," Cubic said. "I took one of the instructor's aside after class one day for two hours and picked his brain. He was more than willing to share any information he had. His knowledge is in radio and that's where my weakness is."
Not only will the JISSC training prepare the Missouri National Guard for a state emergency, but it will also prove to be vital during Vigilant Guard.
Vigilant Guard is an exercise that will provide opportunities for state emergency management agencies and National Guardsmen from several states to improve coordination, operational relationships, plans, and processes in preparation for emergencies and catastrophic events.
The purpose of Vigilant Guard is to enhance the preparedness and capabilities of the National Guard in response to man-made and natural incidents, or terrorist events, in support of local, state and regional agencies.
"We do exercises like Vigilant Guard to make sure that we're up and that everything is in working order," said Staff Sgt. Michael McFarland, the lead instructor from the RTI. "A lot of times, this equipment is packed away into a corner and is forgotten about until a time of need and that's just not the answer. The equipment needs to be up; we need to have people trained on it."
Vigilant Guard participants will include National Guard members from Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, New York, Nebraska, Puerto Rico, and Colorado. Many civilian agencies will also be involved in the exercise. Some agencies include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the State Emergency Management Agency, the Civil Air Patrol, local fire departments, county emergency operations centers, and hospitals.
The exercise is scheduled for Nov. 3-7 in numerous areas across the state.
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please visit www.moguard.com and our social media sites: www.facebook.com/Missouri.National.Guard; www.twitter.com/Missouri_NG; www.youtube.com/MoNationalGuard; www.myspace.com/missouri_ng; www.flickr.com/photos/missouriguard; www.moguard.com/blog; www.pinterest.com/monationalguard/
Staff Sgt. Brian Cubic, a member of the 1107th Aviation Group, helps set up one of the Icom radio's during a practical exercise on Joint Incident Site Communications Capability terminals at the Ike Skelton Training Site. The JISCC command and control trailers feature advanced communications systems that can rapidly deploy anywhere in the U.S. to enable vital interagency communications at the site of a man-made or natural disaster. (Photo by Sarah E. Lupescu, Missouri National Guard).
Sgt. Arthur Little, a member of the Homeland Response Force based out of Jefferson Barracks, becomes familiar with an Icom radio. The radio is included in Joint Incident Site Communications Capability terminals that can be used in the event that a state emergency should occur. (Photo by Sarah E. Lupescu, Missouri National Guard).