FTX integrates real world lessons, new capability at Pacific Endeavor 2016

| September 9, 2016 | 0 Comments
BRISBANE, Australia- 28 Aug, 2016- Signalman Madallene Cooper of the Australian Army sets up her high frequency radio antenna at Damascus Barracks during a field training exercise at Exercise Pacific Endeavor 2016. Sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command and hosted by the Australian Defence Force, Pacific Endeavor 2016 is a multinational workshop designed to enhance communication interoperability and expedite Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief response in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. The workshop involved 250 participants from 22 allied and partner nations. (U.S. Department of Defense photo by MSgt Todd Kabalan)

Signalman Madallene Cooper of the Australian Army sets up her high frequency radio antenna at Damascus Barracks during Pacific Endeavor 2016.

Story and photos by Master Sgt. Todd Kabalan
Defense Media Activity
Forward Center Hawaii

BRISBANE, Australia — Exercise Pacific Endeavor 2016 was in full swing after it began Aug. 22, with military communicators from 22 Indo-Asia Pacific nations, non-government organizations and academic advisers coming together to focus on improving Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response.

Based on recent real-world events, PE16 featured a scenario based on a category 5 typhoon striking Brisbane, which required participants to set up at the Multinational Coordination Center (MNCC) and forward-deploy to two other locations in the affected area.

Their mission was to validate and document high frequency voice and data transfer using ordinary field radios. Commonly referred to as Internet protocol over radio frequency, the practice involves transmitting voice, images and email data over the same RF signal.

BRISBANE, Australia- 28 Aug, 2016- Participants of Pacific Endeavor 2016 receive incoming voice transmissions from the field at the exerciseÕs Multinational Coordination Center. Sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command and hosted by the Australian Defence Force, Pacific Endeavor 2016 is a multinational workshop designed to enhance communication interoperability and expedite Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief response in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. The workshop involved 250 participants from 22 allied and partner nations. (U.S. Department of Defense photo by MSgt Todd Kabalan)

Participants of Pacific Endeavor 2016 receive incoming voice transmissions from the field at the exercise’s Multinational Coordination Center.

“There are no simulations here,” said Scott Griffin, U.S. Pacific Command’s Multinational Communication Interoperability Program (MCIP) director. “We’re actually focusing more on real-world-type communications and real-world-type of events, by deploying them out there, setting up their antennas, setting up their radios and then transmitting back.”

Forward-deployed teams set up the forward operating bases at Damascus Barracks and Victoria Barracks, which are far enough away from the MNCC (at Gallipoli Barracks), so radio operators can truly test their equipment.

“It’s really important to test your high frequency (radios) by having a reasonable amount of distance between the two locations to make sure the systems are properly working,” said Lt. Col. Michael King, Australian national Llad for MCIP. “Doing it here on the base allows for that, as well as the other locations around Australia – allow for a more realistic training environment to validate the interoperability between our radio systems.”

Most countries have RF capabilities, and not all have satellite, which is the reason this FTX is great for interoperability. The challenges they encounter will help participants experience “hands-on” what they might encounter during a crisis.

“You’ve always got to prepare for those eventualities; you’re never going to have everything perfect,” said Cpl. Daniel Stratton, radio operator, New Zealand army.

With today’s technology, sending images or data over RF signal wouldn’t be needed because of the accessibility of the Internet and Wi-Fi. But, when a disaster or humanitarian crisis occurs, that same signal may become a lifeline.

BRISBANE, Australia- 28 Aug, 2016- Participants of Pacific Endeavor 2016 set up their high frequency radio antennas at Victoria Barracks during a field training exercise. Sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command and hosted by the Australian Defence Force, Pacific Endeavor 2016 is a multinational workshop designed to enhance communication interoperability and expedite Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief response in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. The workshop involved 250 participants from 22 allied and partner nations. (U.S. Department of Defense photo by MSgt Todd Kabalan)

Soldiers set up high frequency radio antennas at Victoria Barracks.

“If you’re at an outside location, and I need you to send me a picture of the damage in a certain location, I can actually see what it looks like,” said Maj. Mitchell Lester, future operations chief, 311th Signal Command.

“When a disaster hits, a lot of times everything is wiped out,” said Tom Grant, MCIP technical director. “You might not have any satellite links, your cell systems might be down, you might not have access to the Internet. It’s a valuable skill.”

Non-government organization representatives like Catherine Graham, VIP for Business Development, Humanity Road Inc., helped take the IP over RF lessons learned from a recent disaster response in Nepal, and integrate them into the exercise.

“We can improve how (information sharing) happens in the future. The success of them doing their radio tests today will help improve the relaying of urgent needs like medicines and urgent needs for information on the condition of roads, so logistics can be improved,” Graham said.

Raymond Doherty, U.S. Army-Pacific’s data subject matter expert for Pacific Endeavor said that during the FTX, participants are learning real-world lessons about how they can communicate better, even though they aren’t necessarily using the same equipment or speaking the same language all the time.

“These are the things that are going to impact future missions because we don’t know where the next disaster is going to be, and we don’t know who’s going to be there first. So, these guys can do it together. That’s perfect; that’s what we’re looking for,” Doherty said.

BRISBANE, Australia- 28 Aug, 2016- Participants of Pacific Endeavor 2016 set up their high frequency radio antennas at Victoria Barracks during a field training exercise. Sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command and hosted by the Australian Defence Force, Pacific Endeavor 2016 is a multinational workshop designed to enhance communication interoperability and expedite Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief response in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. The workshop involved 250 participants from 22 allied and partner nations. (U.S. Department of Defense photo by MSgt Todd Kabalan)

Setting up an antenna.

Validating IP data over RF as a credible method of information transmission could truly lead to a vast improvement in HA/DR efforts during a crisis response, and in turn, help save lives.

“Previously, we’ve always understood disaster response was water, food and shelter, but nowadays, with the usage of the Internet and social media, communications is an everyday life function,” Griffin said. “Before someone is asking for food, shelter or water, someone is asking is my loved-one safe?”

Hosted by the Australian Defence Force and PACOM’s MCIP, Pacific Endeavor 2016, here, is the culminating event of a yearlong planning effort that took participants and planners to Papua New Guinea, Hawaii and Mongolia.

The exercise wrapped up Sept. 2.

 

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Category: Deployed Forces, News

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