US Army Space and Missile Defense Command have been a vital partner in Operation Bushfire Assist since 5 January.
CAPTION: Royal New Zealand Air Force loadmaster Corporal Tom Hanson over Canberra during a 7RAR transportation task to Brindabella Mountain, west of of the capital. Photo by Signalman Robert Whitmore. Story by Jason Cutshaw, US Army Space and Missile Defense Command.
RELATED STORIES: Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20
Answering the call to assist in recovery, the Regional Satellite Communications Support Center-Pacific (RSSC-PAC) is providing planning support to Australian and New Zealand Defence forces for Operation Bushfire Assist.
Responsible for planning Wideband Global Satellite System, or WGS, SATCOM missions, RSSC-PAC supports all Australian and New Zealand Defence forces operating in the Pacific area of responsibility on a daily basis and responded to an Australia immediate Satellite Access Request, or SAR, to support units participating in the bushfire assist effort.
Aussie and Kiwis working closely together – using American technology and resources to communicate
Robert Driskell IV, Wideband Cell chief at RSSC-PAC supporting operations over Military Satellite Communications in the Indo-Pacific area of operation said, “In response to the wildfire crisis in Australia we ensured rapid response and quick turnaround of satellite resource requests ensuring that Australian military elements were able to communicate and coordinate response efforts on the ground”.
“We started to receive requests for satellite resources supporting this effort January 5 and our support is expected to last until early February.
“All support efforts undertaken by RSSC-PAC have occurred remotely from our home station at Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii,” Mr Driskell said.
“We do not have any members currently deployed supporting the effort.”
Oliver Uson, a wideband planner, said they ensured rapid response and quick turnaround of satellite resource requests ensuring that Australian military elements were able to communicate and coordinate response efforts on the ground and at sea.
“As soon as we got the satellite access request from the Australians we started the planning process with a 24-hour or less turnaround.”
The wildfires burning across Australia and New Zealand have burned roughly 72,000 square miles, destroyed more than 5900 buildings, killed nearly 30 people and wiped out approximately half-a-billion animals.
Staff Sergeant Felix Loperena, a wideband planner at RSSC-PAC, said Australia was in a state of emergency and there were a lot of people, fauna and flora in need of assistance.
“Our support for those helping control the situation will not stop until they have completed their task,” Staff Sergeant Loperena said.
“In the end, we are all one world and we should support each other.
“No matter what type of assistance you are able to provide, in a situation as crucial and damaging as the bushfires, every little help and those who lend the helping hand should be proud for it.
“I work directly with Australian personnel that are stationed here in Hawaii, who still have family and friends residing in Australia.
“For some, the support that is being offered is not just a sense of duty and work obligation, but also a personal connection to those who we work with, for their friends and family.
“The mission is not just to help the fires to stop, but to let Australians know that we care and that we are here for them in times of need.”