June 29, 2011

Virginia rolls out JISCC for major state, national exercises

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen      
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. — Communications experts from the Virginia National Guard conducted their annual training supporting two major exercises to test their capabilities and validate their expertise. A five person team from the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability, or JISCC, team provided communication assets to the Hampton Roads Full Scale Exercise May 17-19 and two JISCC packages manned by 13 Soldiers and Airmen supported the 2011 Joint Users Interoperability Communications Exercise at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., June 13-24.

 

A team from the Virginia Army National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters along with Soldiers from the Hampton-based Company C, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion set up the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability to provide Internet access and telephone support to provide communication to the 34th Civil Support Team and the Virginia National Guard CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package during the Hampton Roads Full-Scale Exercise on Joint Base Langley-Eustis May 15. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The Virginia Soldiers implemented the JISCC packages seamlessly into the exercises to provide unique communication capabilities by providing satellite reach back using iDirect modems to make DSN, commercial internet, wireless local area network, NIPRnet and SIPRnet connectivity available at both locations.

“Communications is the most essential part of any exercise,” said Sgt. Markus Turner, JISCC sergeant. “If you can’t talk or communicate, you can’t get things accomplished.”

According to 1st Lt. Jessica Sims, JISCC team officer in charge, the Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen were able to do what they do best during the exercises; they trained to react to a real world incident in a controlled setting and gained experience in their highly technical career fields at both exercises.

“We were able to focus on domestic operations and accomplish our daily objectives,” said Sims. “Soldiers participating in the event were able to cross-train on the JISCC equipment and become more familiar with set-up as well as initiate the JISCC system to be fully mission capable.”

JUICE was planned as a team building event where different federal and local emergency services and agencies could interface, communicate and interoperate in a real world tactical network, and the Virginia Guard personnel seized the opportunity to hone their communications skills in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season.

 

A team from the Virginia Army National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters along with Soldiers from the Hampton-based Company C, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion set up the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability to provide Internet access and telephone support to provide communication to the 34th Civil Support Team and the Virginia National Guard CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package during the Hampton Roads Full-Scale Exercise on Joint Base Langley-Eustis May 15. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“They had plenty of time to hone their skills and work in a real world environment,” said Chief Warrant Officer Chris Johnson, deputy J6 and knowledge management officer. “This could not have been a better timed exercise for us because it helped us develop our skills with current hands on training to respond to an emergency if there is a major hurricane this season.”

According to Johnson, the different agencies that come together in the wake of a natural disaster will use different communications platforms at an incident site. After a major event, the different agencies can all plug in their different radios and communicate with other first responders from different agencies due to the interoperability the JISCC can create on site.

“Think about it, we are like a first responder, we go to a specific incident site and we help with their radio interoperability," said Johnson. “Different agencies can bring different radios. The Sheriff’s department, the emergency rescue department, FEMA, the Army, the Air Force, they can plug their radios in to our system and they can all communicate with each other like they were on the same radio system.”

In 2011, JUICE celebrated its 18th consecutive year, focusing on expeditionary communications and coalition operations with six or more nations participating. Additionally, JUICE will execute Phase II of the tactical pilot for the Department of Defense’s unified capabilities architecture, which has been developed to provide assured service to the warfighter; implement the new construct developed in JUICE 2010 for a joint network operations control center; exercise DoD support to civil authorities with participation from DoD and non-DoD organizations and academia; Internet Protocol version six initiatives; and provide a real world venue for training in a variety of functional areas.

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