A member of the C-AT staff recently observed a communications exercise at Ft. Bragg. This exercise was part of NORTHCOM’s Vital Connection exercises.
The objective was for a U.S. Army Signal Battalion to provide communications support to local emergency responders. Among those public safety agencies responding to the disaster were the local city fire & rescue, county emergency management (EMA) and state urban search and rescue teams (USAR).
In this scenario, a disaster has damaged the communications infrastructure throughout the city of Fayetteville, home of Ft. Bragg. However, responders must co-ordinate between multiple disaster sites throughout the city. As a result, the U.S. Army Signal Battalion had to re-establish communications between multiple sites, via a LOS and TROPO link.
With local, county and state agencies all responding to the incident, gateways were deployed to bridge radio communications at each disaster site.
Multiple Incident Commanders’ Radio Interfaces (ICRIs) were brought to the scene as part of the communications equipment caches of the Ft. Bragg EMA, the City of Fayetteville Fire Department, and the county EMA. These gateways were used to perform the following tasks assigned to the signal battalion:
1st Responders able to bridge radios, including PRC-152s, Fort Bragg trunking, and PRC-1523s, via ICRI
1st Responders able to bridge PRC-152 to Satellite Phone via ICRI
1st Responders bridge USAR tactical 800 MHz state VIPER trunking radio to PRC-152 to military base EMA via ICRI
Radio over IP (RoIP) services extended from CISCO / IPICS at the Incident Command Post (ICP) to the fire department / ICRI at the airport via CISCO VoIP
Phone; this proved interoperability between radio gateways and extended radio services from ICP to 1st Responders at the airport
In order to extend communications from one site to another, via IP through the CISCO phone, the audio signal from the ICRI was routed through the a complex path that included routers, antennas and a several other networking devices. A simpler approach would have achieved the same result by using an Iridium phone directly connected to the ICRI!
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