Hall: 'Commonality of systems' is key to effective military communication

SAN DIEGO?Among the problems revealed as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita was that the National Guard and Reserves struggled to communicate with other federal, state and local organizations, according to the assistant secretary of Defense for reserve affairs.

Adm. Thomas F. Hall said senior military leaders?such as Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, who was in charge of the military's response to hurricane Katrina?sent runners to relay messages between bases and posts, reminiscent of relay tactics used during World War II.

"Somehow we have to get a commonality of systems," Hall said today during the morning keynote session at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association International's West 2006 Convention. The effort, which should include common radios and wavelengths, needs to be led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Hall added.

After Katrina, military units set up tactical satellites, data switching/multiplex equipment, and secure and nonsecure voice, video and data links to the Defense Information Systems Network. That helped base leaders communicate with others at a particular location.

Many Defense leaders said the problem often arose when units at one location tried to talk to units at another location.

Dawn S. Onley is a staff writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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