U.S. Army continues satellite support during COVID-19 pandemic

By Robert SeginApril 27, 2020

U.S. Army continues satellite support during COVID-19 pandemic
U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers with the 228th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade and Joint Force Headquarters set up signal equipment at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina, April 17, 2020 to showcase the network capabilities available to support potential telemedicine, or virtual medical care, in support of COVID-19 response efforts in the state. The equipment can be used as a primary or secondary network capability for health care providers for the medical databases that enable the medical community to assess and treat patients remotely, if needed. The South Carolina National Guard remains ready to support the counties, local and state agencies, and first responders with requested resources for as long as needed in support of COVID-19 response efforts in the state. (Courtesy photo) (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado -- Communications and connectivity are vital to the thousands of Department of Defense personnel responding as part of the total government response to the new coronavirus pandemic.

That connectivity takes bandwidth, and the team from the Regional Satellite Communications Support Center-West are there. RSSC-West is a little known multi-service element of the U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command that provides around-the-clock satellite communications transmission planning and engineering support.

“The Army is critically dependent upon satellite communications to execute mission command of forces deployed around the globe,” said Col. Tonri Brown, commander, U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade.

All across the country, thousands of active duty, Army Reserve and National Guard troops are providing medical and logistics support to affected communities. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, RSSC-West satellite communications planners, located on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, have used their skills to support these critical missions, quickly responding to multiple requests from U.S. Northern Command to provide communications in support of disaster relief. NORTHCOM, in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is leading the DOD’s response to COVID-19 efforts in the continental United States.

“The RSSCs perform their wartime mission every day in support of global strategic operations, but sometimes that means providing tactical communications right here at home,” said Mike Chandanais, director of Satellite Communications. “Our communications planners are not unaccustomed to handling a request for immediate action. We see this often during hurricane season, and we’re proud that we can assist our formations during the pandemic.”

Military satellites can provide rapid, mobile communications that prevent the need to install and lease commercial communications lines at response locations. Video teleconferencing, voice lines, network access, and even communications on the move, are part of the capabilities that can be accessed through the DOD system to better enable a whole-of-government response.

Wideband Global SATCOM payload management is part of the daily mission of the RSSCs in support of not just the Army, but all across the DOD.

“The RSSC team responded to the force requirements by reallocating essential satellite resources supporting COVID-19 response efforts across the western United States,” said Brown. “Our RSCCs support the force by shifting communications elements, ensuring the user has what they need while maintaining mission readiness for the joint force.”