167th Communications Flight acquires new capability

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Copen, left, a computer network technician for West Virginia National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, discusses the Joint Incident Site Communication Capability kit with U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Trevor Whittington, standing, a system administrator for the 167th Airlift Wing. JFHQ-WV signed over the JISCC to the 167th Communications Flight in December. The satellite-based communication system provides internet, telephone and radio capabilities during emergency events where normal communications may be disabled. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Copen, left, a computer network technician for West Virginia National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, discusses the Joint Incident Site Communication Capability kit with U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Trevor Whittington, standing, a system administrator for the 167th Airlift Wing. JFHQ-WV signed over the JISCC to the 167th Communications Flight in December. The satellite-based communication system provides internet, telephone and radio capabilities during emergency events where normal communications may be disabled. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The West Virginia National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Information Operations section signed over one of its Joint Incident Site Communication Capability (JISCC) kits to the 167th Communications Flight last month.

A JISCC is a rapidly deployable satellite-based communication system that provides internet, telephone and radio capabilities at sites where infrastructure does not exist or has been damaged by disaster.

The JISCC, designed to support homeland defense and civil support mission requirements, can augment the wing's emergency managers or can assist civilian emergency responders. It can also bridge communication systems used by the military with systems used by civilian responders.

"We recognized the need for a JISCC regarding our disaster recovery plan and continuity of operations," said Capt. Brad Runkles, 167th Communications Flight commander. "We were unable to provide backup services for the wing in the event of a natural disaster."

The JISCC will serve as the Wing's main disaster recovery and continuity of operations solution.

Runkles inquired about getting a JISCC from another state at the same time a kit in West Virginia became available. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Kirby, an information technology supervisor and the JISCC manager for West Virginia Joint Force Headquarters, transferred one of the state's three kits from another communications unit to the 167 CF.

"It brings another capability to the 167th Airlift Wing and will allow them to have even more of an impact on this side of the state," said Kirby. "They're really motivated to get this thing going."

A JISCC was used during flood recovery efforts in the southern part of the state last summer and has been utilized during other crises in the state.

"We backed up a 911 center when they went down, it really is a life safer when things go bad," said U.S. Army Spc. Cody Harper, a radio technician for West Virginia National Guard Joint Force Headquarters.

JISCC's are often on stand-by during big events to ensure the military is prepared to respond if the need arises.

"We have already been tasked to help with providing communications for the CERFP (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package) unit during the upcoming presidential inauguration," Runkles said.

The National Guard Bureau has fielded more than 70 kits since 2004. West Virginia was one of the first states to receive a JISCC from NGB according to Kirby whose been working with the program since its inception.

"We stayed so busy and we found out there is so much relevance to this that every state now has a kit," Kirby said.

Satellite internet can be set up within 15 minutes of arriving to a scene and the JISCC can be fully operational within an hour.

The JISCC kit is stored and transported in an 18-foot trailer. The kit includes a satellite, computer network and radio equipment, phones, printers, a generator, a tent and lights.