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Army Mobile Command Prepared for Gustav with New Communications Trucks

One of the problems the military experienced during Hurricane Katrina was the inability to communicate with the radio systems used by first responders. But a solution from ENG truck provider Wolf Coach is helping them bridge that gap.

An article on, "Gustav response highlights Army's improvement in disaster communications", looks at the mobile command vehicles Wolf Coach provided the Army. The "Sentinel" system in the Wolf Coach vehicles provides radios that can communicate on all VHF and UHF radio frequencies used by first responders, and also includes an audio bridge that allows connection to up to 24 different radio systems.

Network connectivity has become as important as voice connectivity. The Army vehicles include 2.6-meter satellite dishes that provide 2 Mbps of satellite connectivity from Segovia IP, a Herndon, Va.-based global satellite IP provider. However, during the high wind conditions experienced when Hurricane Gustav passed by earlier this week, the Army mobile command shut down the satellite link and used air cards from Verizon Wireless to access the Defense Department's unclassified network.

Ham radio operators will be interested in a comment from Col. Laverm Young, the coordinating officer deployed to Baton Rouge. While he praised the communications capability of the new vehicles, he thought an HF radio system should have been included to allow communications with amateur radio operators, as these are often the only persons possessing operational radios after a disaster.

The article has additional information about mobile communications vehicles available to Army North. If you want to compare your ENG van to a mobile command, post, check out the Wolf Coach Sentinel!

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.