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MEOC bridges communication gaps

Tech. Sgt. Jamie Heinzelman (left) and Master Sgt. John Parrish, communications personnel from the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, set up a tactical communications pack (TAC PAK) outside of their Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC) during SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Tech. Sgt. Jamie Heinzelman (left) and Master Sgt. John Parrish, communications personnel from the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, set up a tactical communications pack (TAC PAK) outside of their Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC) during SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Tech. Sgt. Jamie Heinzelman (left) and Master Sgt. John Parrish, communications personnel from the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, set up a tactical communications pack (TAC PAK) outside of their Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC) during SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Tech. Sgt. Jamie Heinzelman (left) and Master Sgt. John Parrish, communications personnel from the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, set up a tactical communications pack (TAC PAK) outside of their Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC) during SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Emergency Management and Communications personnel from the 127th Wing and 182nd Airlift Wing pose with their Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC) vehicles following the conclusion of SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 16, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Emergency Management and Communications personnel from the 127th Wing and 182nd Airlift Wing pose with their Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC) vehicles following the conclusion of SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 16, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Emergency Management and Communications personnel from the 182nd Airlift Wing pose with their Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC) vehicle following the conclusion of SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Emergency Management and Communications personnel from the 182nd Airlift Wing pose with their Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC) vehicle following the conclusion of SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Air Force Senior Airman Andrea Liechti, a photojournalist with the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, is briefed by Mr. John Maggitti, an ametuer radio operator participating in SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Air Force Senior Airman Andrea Liechti, a photojournalist with the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, is briefed by Mr. John Maggitti, an ametuer radio operator participating in SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Tim Foley, Installation Emergency Manager of 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, Ill., is interviewed by Emily Matesic, a reporter from WBAY-TV during SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Tim Foley, Installation Emergency Manager of 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, Ill., is interviewed by Emily Matesic, a reporter from WBAY-TV during SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Army Capt. Chris Robbins, Officer in Charge, Wisconsin National Guard Joint Operations Center, is interviewed by Emily Matesic, a reporter from WBAY-TV during SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Army Capt. Chris Robbins, Officer in Charge, Wisconsin National Guard Joint Operations Center, is interviewed by Emily Matesic, a reporter from WBAY-TV during SIMCOM 2014 at Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wis. May 15, 2014. SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) is a functional exercise designed to test the interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, private organizations and defense communications and data sharing. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton (Released)

Oshkosh, Wisconsin -- It might look like a camping trailer being towed behind a Ford F-550 diesel pickup, but this vehicle does more than one might imagine. The deceptive looking vehicle is known as a Mobile Emergency Operations Center. A MEOC is a self-contained unit that can sustain continuous operations for three to five days. The MEOC acquired by the 182nd Airlift Wing in December 2013 was recently put to the test during State Interoperable Mobile Communications Exercise 2014 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

SIMCOM 2014, held May 15, is a functional exercise designed to test the communications and data sharing interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, and private organizations. Over 20 agencies provided platforms to carry out tasks assigned to them through a Master Scenario Events List, which is basically a script, executed by the Simulation Cell. Illinois' MEOC was joined by Michigan's MEOC, which is operated by the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.



Senior Master Sgt. Tim Foley, installation emergency manager for the
182nd Airlift Wing, was pleased with this first use of the MEOC in a
radio communications scenario.

"This being the first time out, I believe we proved to ourselves, as well as the military and civilian responders that participated, that we are very capable in communicating regardless of the frequency range. We were also able to help others to communicate through our radio bridging capability, which is a vital piece of interoperable communications during a major contingency," said Foley.

Foley's counterpart at the 127th Wing, Chief Master Sgt. R. Michael Carroll, was also excited to show Wisconsin's emergency managers how the MEOC is a valuable asset during a crisis or major event.

"The Air National Guard Mobile Emergency Operations Centers were designed with the intention of providing any needing agency a platform that could be set up and operational in 30 minutes. The MEOC with its robust communications suites can be used to provide command and control for any size incident," Carroll said.

An after action review was held at the conclusion of SIMCOM 2014, in which participants could voice the strong and weak points of the

exercise. Foley had his own observations of how his team performed.

"Overall, I believe this was a successful deployment of the MEOC. Anytime you can get out and interact with other ANG and ARNG units as well as civilian responders in this kind of environment, it is a big win for everyone. I think we taught as much as we learned, and if we were called to respond to natural or man-made disaster, we would all be better prepared," Foley said.

Local emergency management agencies requiring use of the MEOC do so by routing their request through the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, which then contacts the Illinois National Guard.