452nd Communications Squadron is tip of Joint C4ISR spear

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Patrick Liu

The 452nd Communications Squadron, March Air Reserve Base, was key to Vital Connect 2015, a USNORTHCOM-sponsored exercise led by the Colorado Army National Guard designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county and city Mobile Emergency Communication plans and platforms.

Secure, high bandwidth, and redundant communications are vital to the Command, Control, Computers and Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), of complex joint operations like Vital Connect, held in Denver, Colorado, July 14-16.

The 452 CS employed its Joint Incident Site Communications Capability (JISCC) suite, a deployable communications package designed to provide initial services in austere locations, in order to accomplish the mission. The JISCC delivers a lot of capability in a small package.

The exercise provided outstanding training for the March communicators. They were able to quickly provide services in direct support of a real-world scenario without the added stress of a live-fire event. They were also able to share tactics, techniques and procedures with the other civilian and military units participating.

“Vital Connect provided an unique opportunity for the 452 CS to learn how the JISCC can interoperate with a mix of civilian, law enforcement, and first responder agencies, and to learn how these non-DOD agencies operate and communicate with DOD assets,” said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Derr, 452 CS.

These Joint exercises are designed to demonstrate unified C4ISR in support of contingency operations. When it’s all on the line, you need to be online. That is what the 452 CS all about, providing the operators communication capability to direct and control resources needed in any event.

The 452 CS sent 16 of their finest cyber operators to provide full spectrum HF, UHF and VHF radio capability and Internet connectivity to civilian mobile emergency operations and dispatch vehicles. During the exercise, they were tasked to provide Jefferson and Arapahoe County Sheriff and the Colorado Springs Police Department with radio, internet, video-teleconferencing and phone capability.

“C4ISR is as vital to first responders and (Federal, State, Local) emergency management as it is to military joint operations,” said Maj. Richard Quinton, operations director, 452 CS.

Since 9/11, the issue to share and exchange data has been daunting to say the least. Many policies and legacy system incompatibilities hinder the process. Essential communications must be delivered to ensure that first responders and follow-on, sustained operations are able to direct resources efficiently to overcome local-, regional- or national-level events. The 452 CS delivered essential communications during Vital Connect-Denver.

There were more than 20 individual military and civilian units and 200 communicators and operators participating in the three-day exercise. Each unit was able to showcase and explain its capabilities.

The networking and cross-flow of information was invaluable for all participants. Such exercises allow each unit to understand what capabilities are brought to the fight before responding to an emergency.