Wing Participates in NCR Top Cat 2021 Comm Exercise
South Dakota Wing communicators recently joined in the Top Cat 2021 Bravo communications exercise, including on both HF and VHF radio channels. The region exercise was held on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Wings were encouraged to schedule corresponding training and exercise efforts.
“As communicators, we embody the very essence of Civil Air Patrol's motto Semper Vigilans, or Always Vigilant,” said Capt. Ryon Skaggs, SDWG director of communications in an email to communicators. “Many do not know who we are or what we do, but our work is critical, and we are always here. Efficient, rapid, and accurate information flow during an emergency saves lives, especially during complex incidents. Not only do we provide these critical command and control flows, but we also provide a link for state, local, and other civilian agencies, such as the Red Cross, as necessary.”
Close to 45 communicators across the region logged into the NCR mission in WMIRS. It included formal nets on multiple HF channels and passing formal radio traffic. In South Dakota, the focus of VHF operations was participation from ICPs, ICs, COMLs, GTLs, GTMs, squadron MCS, and Wing MCS stations. The goal was to test providing a count and typing of available resources to the scheduled Primary Wing Message Center Station. The Message Center Station, required by national CAP regulations, is an on-duty station available to relay radio message traffic into and out of the wing, should commercial communications fail.
Pierre members participating included Lt. Col. Tam Gatje and 2d Lt. Todd Dravland. Dravland provided the long-distance HF link to other stations in the Wing/Region/National. Gatje monitored the local Pierre repeater providing the connection from HF to local VHF. The local repeater was queried for ground teams that might be able to become active for the exercise. The overall exercise began at 0700 CDT and ended in the early afternoon, approximately 1500.
Dravland was able to contact a national headquarters station completing the wing portion of the region exercise.
Other stations in eastern and western South Dakota also participated.
An expanded SDWG communications exercise is planned for the next fiscal year.