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 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 -- such as Joint Network Nodes, Satellite Transportable Terminals and SIPR/NIPR Access Point (SNAP) satellite terminals -- 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.

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. The Army fielded the final Army National Guard unit with DIRECT in 4QFY21. The tool suite continues to provide lifesaving communications to support first responders -- such as the police and fire departments, emergency medical technicians or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) -- during homeland response efforts, including multiple hurricanes and last year’s extensive COVID-19 response efforts.

Main Components

  • 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.
  • The Radio Bridging Voice Cross-banding capability 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.
  • Commercial Wi-Fi will support Soldier wireless and cellular handheld requirement inside the incident site tent.
  • The DIRECT package also includes a towed generator, towed equipment trailer with communications equipment, tent and support supplies.