August 14, 2008

Joint exercise provides first field test for communication equipment

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — A joint exercise between the Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion and the University of Mary Washington Police Force conducted Aug. 3 not only gave Virginia Guard Soldiers and campus police a chance to practice their crowd control techniques, but it also served as the first field test of new communication equipment. The Joint Incident Site Communications Capability provides communication resources and allows different organizations with different types of radios to be able to talk to each other.

The battalion’s Hampton-based signal company operates the equipment and put it into use for the first time in a simulated real-world setting during the exercise. The company set up the equipment during annual training, but this was the first time they actually hooked in with another agency’s communication system and got them talking with the military network.

“We can provide internet video teleconferencing, radio interoperability and world wide telecommunications to any site, anywhere,” said Capt. Lesley Kipling, the signal company commander. “If there was a natural disaster or man-made disaster where there was no communication infrastructure left, we could provide that. We can link different radio networks so we have police, fire, Red Cross, military can all come in and talk on one network for command and control purposes.”

During the exercise, the UMW police provided one of their radio handsets, and when it was linked into the JISCC, it enabled them to talk directly to the leaders of the battalion on their military radio network.

In addition to providing the Virginia National Guard with important communications resources, it also provided Soldiers of the signal company a chance to work on their military specialty skills.

“The training opportunity for the Soldiers is really awesome and the satisfaction of knowing we can accomplish this kind of mission and we have a real world mission,” Kipling said. “The company is not just on paper, but we can execute a real world mission.”

The exercise gave Soldiers a chance to practice their crowd control techniques and gave senior leaders of the battalion a chance to work with local law enforcement agencies.

In the scenario for the exercise, three tornados touched down in Spotsylvania, Stafford and Prince William counties, causing severe damage and injury. The Virginia Guard is called in to assist UMW police from having unauthorized personnel enter the campus as they try to respond to the aftermath of the storms.

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