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Comm Airmen network during Vigilant Guard

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tony Harp
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing

Five Airmen from the 271st Combat Communications Squadron gained valuable hands-on training during the disaster relief exercise Vigilant Guard March 12-13 at Camp Santiago in Salinas, Puerto Rico. 

Vigilant Guard is a U.S. Northern Command and National Guard Bureau-sponsored event that simulates a real-world natural disaster to help units improve emergency response and relief procedures. This year it was held in multiple locations across Puerto Rico. 

The 271st CBCS Airmen were part of the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability team, whose mission is to provide communications capabilities to military personnel during domestic operations.

The JISCC team supported the 3rd Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Task Force relief mission during the exercise by suppling communications to the command and control and medical elements, said Tech. Sgt. Justin Warner, a cyber transport specialist with the 271st CBCS.

During the exercise, the 271st JISCC team worked alongside the 156th Communications Flight JISCC from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard. The 271st JISCC team conducted operations using 156th JISCC equipment, followed by fully integrated joint operations with the 156th team on the second day. 

“Working with them [156th JISCC] that second day went great,” said Warner. “We actually got a comment from the OCT (observer controller trainer) that if they wouldn’t have known we were separate teams, they would have thought we were all one team and had been working together for years.”

The JISCC provides Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPR Net) and commercial internet, through hardwired and Wi-Fi services, said Warner. The JISCC also provides Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones that allow for Defense Switched Network (DSN) and commercial telephone access. They provide three bands of radio frequencies, which include: high frequency, very high frequency and ultra high frequency, and the ability to cross-band frequencies by taking one frequency signal and transmitting it across other frequency bands. 

The 271st JISCC teams are made up of six team members and support domestic operations, primarily the Homeland Response Force and the 3rd CBRN TF. In 2017, they were the first JISCC team to deploy to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and established communications support for those involved with the relief effort.