Virginia Guard Soldiers provide communications capability to inauguration mission

A team of Virginia National Guard communication experts provide critical digital communications capability to National Guard forces conducting security during the 57th Presidential Inauguration held Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington, D. C. Soldiers from the Sandston-based Joint Force Headquarters Communications Section and the Hampton-based Company C, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team used the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability to provide Internet access and telephone support along with Soldiers from the Tennessee National Guard to make sure leaders had the necessary connectivity to track their personnel in the field and maintain communications essential to the mission. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A team of Virginia National Guard communication experts provided critical digital communications capability to National Guard forces providing security during the 57th Presidential Inauguration Jan. 19 – 21 in Washington, D. C.

Soldiers from the Sandston-based Joint Force Headquarters Communications Section and the Hampton-based Company C, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team composed the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability team.

The JISCC team worked side by side with another JISCC team from the Tennessee Air National Guard to support National Guard units from Florida, Mississippi, Iowa and Pennsylvania in Task Force Access and Task Force Crowd.

According to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brent Helmick, the officer-in-charge of the Virginia Guard JISCC, the team was able to provide phones, wi-fi networks, faxes, video teleconference, toughbooks to issue, all-over satellite, and radio interoperability.

“That’s probably our most effective capability, says Helmick, regarding the radio interoperability. “It means that we can roll into a disaster situation or planned event, such as inauguration, and make all the different radio set-ups that different agencies and military units are operating on work together.”

Each JISCC is a mobile set of commercial hardware and associated peripheral equipment designed to provide on-site and reach-back communications capabilities for enhanced command and control and share situational awareness among first responders and with state and federal command authorities and centers. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

One of the units the JISCC was supporting anticipated using a single communication system for the event. Once on the ground they discovered they could not operate on this due to the mass of radio traffic. The JISCC was able to offer the unit their full array of capabilities, making copies of updated maps and access to Army Knowledge Online.

“The trajectory of their ability to communicate shot strait up,” said Helmick.

The JISCC also operated with a Cyber Network Detection team from the North Carolina National Guard for the event. The CND team monitored all data coming across networks and reported any suspicious threats to appropriate authorities.

This event gave the JISCC team a unique opportunity to use the equipment and help customers use the equipment, not just demonstrating their capabilities.

“We are overall experts in our telecommunication abilities,” said Helmick. “We enhanced the units we were working with and enabled them to complete their mission. Therefore I have completed mine.”

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Photos: Va. Guard Soldiers provide communications capability to inauguration mission – Jan. 21, 2013