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MEOC bridges communication gaps

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton
  • 182nd Airlift Wing
Four 127th Wing Airmen travelled from Selfridge Air National Guard Base with the Wing's Mobile Emergency Operation Center to participate in the State Interoperable Mobile Communications Exercise 2014 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. 

Looking like a camping trailer being towed behind a Ford F-550 diesel pickup, this vehicle does more than one might imagine.  The MEOC is a self-contained unit that can sustain continuous operations for three to five days.  The Selfridge MEOC responds for disasters and other contingencies in FEMA Region 5, which includes Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illionios, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

SIMCOM 2014, held May 15, is a functional exercise designed to test the communications and data sharing interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, and private organizations. Over 20 agencies provided platforms to carry out tasks assigned to them through a Master Scenario Events List, which is basically a script, executed by the Simulation Cell.   Michigan's MEOC, which was staffed with two emergency managers and two communication specialists, was joined by the 182nd Airlift Wing's MEOC from Peoria, Ill.  Each region has two of the Air National Guard assets.

Chief Master Sgt. R. Michael Carroll, 127th Wing emergency manager, was excited to show Wisconsin's emergency managers how the MEOC is a valuable asset during a crisis or major event.

"The Air National Guard Mobile Emergency Operations Centers were designed with the intention of providing any needing agency a platform that could be set up and operational in 30 minutes. The MEOC with its robust communications suites can be used to provide command and control for any size incident," Carroll said.

Senior Master Sgt. Tim Foley, installation emergency manager for the 182nd Airlift Wing, was pleased with this first use of the MEOC in a radio communications scenario.

"This being the first time out, I believe we proved to ourselves, as well as the military and civilian responders that participated, that we are very capable in communicating regardless of the frequency range. We were also able to help others to communicate through our radio bridging capability, which is a vital piece of interoperable communications during a major contingency," said Foley.

An after action review was held at the conclusion of SIMCOM 2014, in which participants could voice the strong and weak points of the exercise. Foley had his own observations of how his team performed.

"Overall, I believe this was a successful deployment of the MEOC. Anytime you can get out and interact with other ANG and ARNG units as well as civilian responders in this kind of environment, it is a big win for everyone. I think we taught as much as we learned, and if we were called to respond to natural or man-made disaster, we would all be better prepared," Foley said.

Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operation Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 97th year of continuous military air operations in 2014.