The US Army is set to field its new disaster incident response emergency communications terminal (DIRECT) tool across the US, including regions with a National Guard presence.
The new DIRECT will be used to facilitate interoperable communications between the military, first responders and other non-government agencies during disaster situations.
US Army National Guard deputy director major general Timothy McKeithen said: "We are fielding this new equipment to help us interoperate and better communicate up and down (and across the various chains of command).
"That interoperability will allow us to move quicker, to act quicker and get things done."
Using National Guard organic Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) network equipment, DIRECT allows service members to provide emergency responders with commercial phone and internet access, as well as commercial wireless and 4G LTE capabilities, during domestic natural disasters, emergencies and civil support operations.
The bridging capability of the system can connect radios operating on different frequencies.
The tool suite also facilitates interconnection between mobile phones, internet telephones, and military and first responder radios for seamless collaboration, the US Army stated.
The DIRECT communications kit was demonstrated during the National Guard G6 Mission Command Workshop in Little Rock in mid-May.
During the demonstration, soldiers from the 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion successfully operated and briefed the DIRECT capabilities to senior Guard and active-duty army leaders and workshop attendees.
The army is also working to ensure that DIRECT is compatible with FirstNET, which is a nationwide broadband network being created by the US Department of Commerce to support first responders.
Image: DIRECT securely leverages organic WIN-T tactical network equipment to provide emergency responders with commercial phone and internet access. Photo: courtesy of US Army photo by Amy Walker, PEO C3T Public Affairs.