Connecticut Soldiers and Airmen Team Up with Local Authorities
By 1st Lt. Bryon M. Turner, 103rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 03, 2008
BRADLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, East Granby, Conn. -- Communicators from units across the Connecticut Air National Guard, along with soldiers from the Connecticut Army National Guard, conducted the first major training exercise for the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability (JISCC) equipment package, with first responders from state and local agencies, at Camp Rell, from June 1 to June 6, 2008.
"The JISCC is designed to allow local, state and federal agencies to communicate with each other via satellite, radio, telephone, and internet connectivity, while conducting emergency response operations in field conditions. Essentially, the joint team provides incident commanders with a full spectrum of communications capabilities and seamless interoperability between government agencies," said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Zukauskas, NCOIC, Information Assurance, 103rd Communications Squadron.
In preparation for this multi-agency exercise, members of the 103rd Air Operations Group, 103rd Communications Squadron and the 103rd Air Control Squadron departed Bradley Air National Guard Base via convoy on June 1, 2008, to practice the quick response and deployment process required in the event a real-world emergency struck.
"The JISCC is a deployable command and control system, another asset in the Governor's emergency response toolkit. The Air Operations Group's (AOG) state mission will be to provide a back up Emergency Operations Center with significantly enhanced command, control, communications and planning capabilities. It makes sense to train our people on JISCC operations," said Lt. Col. Peter J. Depatie, commander, 103rd Air Operations Group.
Upon arriving at Camp Rell, the team was joined by members of the Connecticut Army National Guard for a rigorous three-day training program.
"Our mission requires us to set up our equipment and have it ready to operate within 45 minutes of reaching our deployed site," said Tech. Sgt. Eric Dunn, Network Infrastructure Craftsman, 103rd Air Operations Group.
The JISCC crews practiced this rapid set up and tear process throughout their first day at Camp Rell. Working as one team, they were able to setup the JISCC well within 45 minute time requirement.
"Getting our systems up and running as fast and as safe as possible will be critical during a real emergency. Lives may depend on it," said Tech. Sgt. Dunn.
JISCC trainees participated in practical hands-on training and intense classroom sessions throughout the next two days. Experts in the career fields of ground radio, networking, and satellite communications learned and practiced their individual roles and responsibilities, melding their individual skill sets into a cohesive and functional team.
"When the balloon goes up, we will be ready to play our part, regardless of what service we belong to. This is truly a purple mission, Army and Air working together to reach one goal and accomplish one mission," said Senior Master Sgt. Zukauskas.
The week culminated in the first practical multi-agency exercise of the JISCC equipment. Members of the Connecticut State Police and local dispatchers from precincts across the state arrived on the scene and tied their diverse communications systems into the JISCC infrastructure, allowing the agencies to communicate with each other directly.
"Our primary goal for this deployment was to successfully develop a trained cadre of qualified Soldiers and Airmen, ready to respond should their nation or state call on them and the JISCC in a time of need, and that goal was achieved," said Senior Master Sgt. Zukauskas. "Next year, we hope to build on the lessons we learned here and develop a more sophisticated exercise. You can never be too prepared."