Can You Hear Me Now? Guard Troops Ensure You Can During Disaster Exercise

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Communications Specialists Validate Systems for Disaster Response

Story by: Spc. Jimmy Bedgood - 42nd Infantry Division
  Dated: Sun, Aug 7, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?  Guard Troops Ensure You Can During Disaster Exercise
New York Army National Guard Spc. Daniel Hayes with the 42nd Infantry Division Special Troops Battalion, a communications support team specialist in Latham discusses rapid response procedures with Master Sgt. Linda Walker from the 174th Fighter Wing during the "Rainbow Hurricane" response exercise on Friday, Aug. 5th, at Gabreski Air Base in Westhampton Beach. Photo by Spc. Jimmy Bedgood, 42nd Infantry Division.

F.S. GABRESKI AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. -- A New York National Guard disaster response exercise here Aug. 4-7 dismissed any doubts to whether the Army Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters was prepared to respond to a hurricane on Eastern Long Island. A joint training exercise with the 106th Rescue Wing at Westhampton Beach helped prepare members of the New York National Guard train and rehearse one of the most important aspects of military operations: communications.

Airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing, along with additional Air National Guard communications specialists from the 105th Airlift Wing from Newburgh, N.Y. and the 174th Fighter Wing in Syracuse, N.Y. joined with signal Soldiers from the 42nd Infantry from Troy, N.Y. and the Joint Force Headquarters -- New York signal staff to establish a full suite of emergency communications at a forward location during the command post exercise.

“Our purpose here is to work out the kinks,” said Pfc. Kashif Mayes, a satellite operator maintainer with the 42nd Infantry Division Special Troops Battalion, based in Troy.

“We can deploy in about 15 minutes with the Mobile Emergency Response Center (MERC) system,” said Spc. Daniel Hayes, also with the 42nd STB. Hayes served as a communications support specialist during the exercise.

MERC is a completely self-sufficient mobile communication network. It provides commercial telephone and Internet access at remote sites. After a disaster, such as the simulated hurricane on Long Island, most commercial communications are unavailable.

Airmen with the 106th Air Wing at Gabreski Air Base also employed the Joint Incident Site Communication Capability (JISCC) during the exercise. JISCC restores communication through high band width satellite and radio frequencies, enabling National Guard forces to communicate with their units, their higher headquarters and civil authorities.

“This is good cross-training,” Hayes said. “It’s the first time I’ve worked with the Air Guard on an exercise.”

Soldiers from the 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters in Troy, N.Y. make up the National Guard’s Domestic All-Hazards Response Team for the Eastern United States.

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Page Last Modified: Sun, Aug 7, 2011