DOD, industry on alert for Wilma

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The Defense Department has military and industry teams on alert to provide communications if Hurricane Wilma disrupts the operation of telephone and wireless networks in the country.

Northern Command (Northcom) called Army communications officials earlier this week and ordered them to get mobile communications teams ready, said Brig. Gen. Nick Justice, deputy program executive officer in the Army’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO-C3T). “Teams are standing up right now at Fort Monmouth (N.J.),” said Justice, who spoke Wednesday at the Milcom 2005 conference.

Army signal units, which operate the service’s battlefield communications systems, are also on call. “Tactical assets are ready,” said Brig. Gen. Carroll Pollett, the new commanding general of the Army’s Network Enterprise Technology Command and 9th Army Signal Command located at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

Industry officials with DataPath and Qualcomm said they have personnel and equipment ready to provide communications with the Army. The two companies assisted Northcom, the Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in providing wireless and radio communications to police, fire and emergency personnel involved in relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane Wilma is a strong category four storm now located east of the Yucatan Peninsula and is forecast to hit southwest Florida this weekend. Wilma is the fastest-forming, most powerful storm ever in the Atlantic Ocean region.

Northcom is one of the U.S. military’s nine major commands and oversees defense and homeland security efforts. PEO-C3T acquires, operates and maintains the Army’s warfighting communications systems and coordinated the fielding of a modified version of the service’s Joint Network Node to provide voice, video and data services in support of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

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