SE Region Tests Disaster Communications Capabilities
1st Lt. Alysia English
Director of Public Affairs
1st Lt. Ethan Berg
Public Affairs Officer
The Southeast Region has completed its annual test of its off-grid communications capabilities, with more than 100 members from all six wings participating.
Civil Air Patrol maintains one of the nation's largest networks of independent communicators, combining specialized equipment with highly skilled operators ready to help government agencies coordinate efficiently in the wake of natural disasters.
In the evaluation May 15, 112 members from the Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Puerto Rico wings dealt with the simulated loss of all grid-based communications and worked to pass along simulated command and control messages, as well as orders that closely mirror what occurs during a real-life event.
In all, more than 250 messages were passed, showing the organization’s ability to operate when normal communications are either interrupted or unavailable.
“This communication ability is an important duty that the members of the Southeast Region are called on to perform during every hurricane season,” said Col. Andrea Van Buren, region commander.
The evaluation was planned by Lt. Cols. Samuel Levie, region deputy chief of staff for communications, and Fred Koenig, assistant deputy chief of staff for communications and area commander for the exercise.
When disaster strikes, we have to make sure every message gets delivered quickly and with 100% accuracy. That is why we train for this every year,” Levie said.
Known in the disaster relief community for taking aerial photos and assisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency in assessing damaged areas, CAP is also noted for its communication capabilities when regular commercial infrastructure is unavailable or stressed.
CAP operates high-frequency message center stations and VHF repeaters across the U.S. If a repeater is unavailable, CAP can launch a temporary repeater over an affected area using one of its 560 single-engine aircraft.