Guard capability tears down communications walls between first responders
By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill, National Guard Bureau
/ Published July 31, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. --
A National Guard capability can rapidly bridge communications gaps between first responders to domestic incidents, senior defense officials saw during a hands-on demonstration at the Pentagon.
The Joint Incident Site Communications Capability (JISCC) provides voice, data, video and radio links between first responders and other local, state and federal agencies, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Paul McHale heard as they visited a JISCC set up outside the north entrance to the Pentagon on July 25.
A JISCC team can have communications up and running within an hour of arriving at an incident scene, LTG H Steven Blum, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, told the defense department leaders.
The National Guard Bureau's Communications Directorate fielded 72 JISCC systems to 54 states and territories, the District of Columbia, the National Guard's Joint Communication, Command, Control and Computer Coordination Center in Smyrna, Del., and other locations between October 2004 and June 2008.
The JISCC is one piece of the answer to the problem of responders from different agencies being unable to talk on incompatible communications systems in the wake of a crisis, NGB officials explained.
After action reports from natural and manmade disasters have highlighted the need for communications barriers to be erased as fast as possible after an incident.
The JISCC continues to expand. Among other enhancements planned for the 2009 fiscal year:
· The NGB is scheduled to field 10 modules that provide secret-level communications. Currently, the JISCC supports non-secure exchanges.
· Ten modules are scheduled to be fielded that expand unclassified communications from up to 24 users on the system to as many as 80.
The JISCC is designed to support homeland defense and civil support mission requirements, NGB officials said.
First Lt. Michael Malloy, of the Joint C4 Coordination Center, and other Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen walked the defense leaders through a series of tents and trailers that are used to field the capability.
The JISCC allows someone on the SINGARS (Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System) typically used by the military to talk with a paramedic, police officer or sheriff's deputy using a completely different system or with first responders on other devices such as cell phones, Malloy explained to England and McHale.
The JISCC is part of the Joint CONUS Communications Support Environment (JCCSE), an operational way of viewing jointly the Army and Air Guards' information technology structures, NGB officials said.
Among other capabilities, the JCCSE can link an incident site anywhere in the nation to state and national headquarters.
The JISCC is one of a smorgasbord of capabilities that the National Guard has emphasized as part of the no-notice transformation of the Guard in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
· Joint Forces Headquarters in each state and territory.
· Joint Task Forces established in states to unify command in the wake of a natural or manmade disaster.
· Civil Support Teams that can identify chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents and substances, among other functions.
· Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Packages (CERFP).
· National Guard Reaction Forces trained to pride governors or combatant commanders with rapid protection of critical infrastructure or other missions as directed to promote stability and security in the states, territories and nation.
· Critical Infrastructure Protection - Mission Assurance Assessment detachments that can conduct all-hazard assessments on critical defense industrial infrastructure.
· The Air National Guard's Expeditionary Medical Support packages that can provide humanitarian relief, respond to natural disasters or support wartime contingencies.
"The National Guard is more ready, better equipped, more accessible and more essential than ever," Blum said. "In the end, it's all about saving American lives, anytime, anyplace, in peace or in war."