Soldiers, Airmen train on communications system in Onancock

Soldiers assigned to the information technology and communication section of the Virginia National Guard joint staff and Army Guard staff operate the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability July 13, 2016, in Onancock, Virginia. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers assigned to the information technology and communication section of the Virginia National Guard joint staff and Army Guard staff operate the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability July 13, 2016, in Onancock, Virginia. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

ONANCOCK, Va. — Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the information technology and communication sections of the Virginia National Guard joint staff and Army Guard staff train on the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability July 13, 2016, in Onancock, Virginia. The JISCC is an advanced communications system that can be rapidly deployed to an incident location and uses secure satellite connections to provide the Guard and first responders with high speed internet, voice-over-IP telephones and high frequency radio communications.

“Our main reason for coming out here was to give us an opportunity to exercise the equipment and provide some of our newly-assigned personnel the chance to work with the system, and this makes sure we stay proficient,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Jason C. Black, the communications officer for the Virginia National Guard Joint Staff.

The training also provided an opportunity to build relationships with local emergency services managers and help them learn more about the capabilities the Guard can provide if there was an incident that degraded normal communication systems.

“We wanted to meet the local emergency managers so they could see who we are, and we know who they are,” Black said. He explained that it is much better to meet with them in a normal training environment instead of right before an oncoming storm when things are much more hectic and stressful.

“It was really good for us to see the kind of capability the Guard could provide in the event of a hurricane,” said Bruce Sterling, coordinator for Virginia Department of Emergency Management Region 5. He said that if there was a major storm to hit the area, the communications infrastructure was one of the most important things that would need to be maintained. “Just knowing what’s out there is really helpful when we are requesting capability to the state emergency operations center.”

Overall, the training was successful both for the operation of the system and the opportunity to engage with local emergency managers.

“This is a very technical piece of equipment, and it is important that we keep everyone up to date and current with how it operates,” Black said. “It was important to show the localities what we can do, and we look forward to the future to do something a little more formal. This is the first step, and we hope to do something more advanced in the future.”

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