DISA Supporting Haitian Relief
Arlington, Va. – Remarkable energy and effort continue to characterize US military humanitarian and disaster relief in Haiti, and the Defense Information Systems Agency is taking advantage of capabilities it has already established, as well as new ones, to provide US Southern Command with the necessary communications and information network to relieve the intense suffering of Haitians caught in Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.
"DISA is providing US Southern Command with information capabilities which will support our nation in quickly responding to the critical situation in Haiti,” said Larry K. Huffman, DISA’s Principal Director of Global Information Grid Operations. “Our experience in providing support to contingency operations around the world postures us to be responsive in meeting USSOUTHCOM’s requirements.”
DISA, a Combat Support Agency, engineers and provides command and control capabilities and enterprise infrastructure to continuously operate and assure a global net-centric enterprise in direct support to joint warfighters, National level leaders, and other mission and coalition partners across the full spectrum of operations. As DoD’s satellite communications leader, DISA is using the Defense Satellite Communications System to provide frequency and bandwidth support to all organizations in the Haitian relief effort. This includes Super High Frequency missions that are providing bandwidth for US Navy ships and one Marine Expeditionary Unit that will arrive shortly on station to provide medical help, security, and helicopters among other support. This also includes all satellite communications for the US Air Force handling round-the-clock air traffic control and air freight operations at the extremely busy Port-Au-Prince Airport. DISA is also providing military Ultra High Frequency channels and contracting for additional commercial SATCOM missions that greatly increase this capability for relief efforts.
DISA is also leveraging a new technology in Haiti that is already linking NGOs, other nations and US forces together to track, coordinate and better organize relief efforts. The Transnational Information Sharing Cooperation tool was only in test operations, but DISA application managers quickly expanded its All Partners Access Network portal to allow any relief organization to sign on and collaborate using APAN’s Web-based social networking services. More than 280 users have found TISC to be indispensible in coordinating and efficiently directing the tons of relief supplies arriving by air and ship, as well as the hundreds of rescue and medical experts converging on the island.
Often overlooked and unplanned for in the crush of humanitarian relief efforts are the hundreds of conflicting and overlapping communication frequencies that can initially harm relief missions. DISA is now exercising its unique role as DoD’s problem solver for this among the many relief agencies working in Haiti. DISA deployed experts to form a Joint Spectrum Management Element that’s already solving complex command and control challenges to allow relief agencies to communicate without conflicting with each other.
DISA is also managing global communications to focus on supporting Haitian relief. DISA’s Global NetOps Support Center stood up a Haitian operations support cell that, among other duties, is ensuring that communications for US military relief operations get immediate and sustained attention. DISA’s field office personnel are also serving with USSOUTHCOM’s own communications staff to anticipate and quickly respond to requirements. According to Army Colonel Kim Carden, commander of DISA’s field office at US Southern Command, "DISA has been working with USSOUTHCOM right from the start to help the suffering Haitian people, and we'll continue to work 24x7 as our nation cares for the hurt and hungry of this island nation."