Network Modernization: DIRECT

Description

The Disaster Incident Response Emergency Communications Terminal (DIRECT) tool suite enables National Guard signal units to provide commercial phone, internet access, and commercial Wi-Fi and 4G LTE to first responders -- military, government and non-governmental -- during domestic natural disasters, emergencies and civil support operations.

DIRECT securely leverages the Army National Guard’s organic satellite-based tactical network transport equipment, the same used by the Active Army, to enable voice, video and data communications, even when local infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed. The DIRECT tool suite also comes with a voice bridging capability that connects disparate radios operating on different frequencies, and it interconnects military and first responder radios, cell phones and internet telephones, to enable a seamless collaboration and synchronization across the entire team.

DIRECT replaces the Army National Guard’s legacy Joint Incident Site Communication Capability (JISCC). Although JISCC aided first responder communications, it did not enable the military and first responders to directly communicate over the robust tactical network. Since DIRECT falls under an Army program, training and sustainment are built into the capability, enabling the Guard to operate, manage and maintain the equipment more easily and cost effectively compared to the previous capability.

In 2018 the Army National Guard first used the DIRECT tactical network communication tool suite for the first time to provide lifesaving communications capabilities to first responders during the aftermath of Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence. It continues to provide lifesaving communications to support first responders in the homeland.

DIRECT supports and is aligned with the Army Network Modernization Strategy Line Of Effort (LOE) #1 Unified Network, by enabling first responders and other non-governmental organizations to leverage the Army’s unified tactical network and architecture. It also supports LOE #4 Command Post Mobility and Survivability, by enabling a more expeditionary and easy to deploy command post solution compared to legacy capability, enabling the exchange of lifesaving data and situational awareness during disaster response and other emergencies on the homeland.

Main Components

  • The Joint Network Node (JNN) is organic to the unit and is also the same system used by Active Army units. This transportable network node provides high-speed wide area network capability for secure voice, video and data exchange. (The Army is looking at providing smaller ground satellite terminals to some states for increased deployability and mobility.)
  • The Satellite Transportable Terminal (STT) is also organic to the unit and used by Active Army units. This highly transportable and mobile satellite system operates in conjunction with the JNN and is designed to establish secure voice, video and data communications virtually anytime and anywhere, even if local infrastructure has been destroyed.
  • Commercial Coalition Equipment (CCE), the same used by the Active Army, fits into a single man-portable transit case and provides the tactical access to commercial internet and telephone services. Integrated into the CCE, the radio-bridging and voice cross-banding capability enables interconnection between cell, landline and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls, and various military and first responder radios. It enables seamless interoperability among disparate radio networks without supplying common radios to all the users, as was done in the past. Army National Guardsmen can combine radio and phone networks for crossed communications or create secure forums where various agencies can talk in independent groups.
  • Commercial Wi-Fi and Commercial 4G LTE Cellular capability will support Soldier wireless and cellular handheld requirements. The Commercial Wi-Fi capability covers a limited footprint and is used inside the ‘skin’ of the incident site tent, while 4G LTE is used with smartphones and eventually tablets to extend coverage to an entire base radius.
  • The DIRECT package also includes a towed generator, towed equipment trailer with communications equipment, tent and support supplies.