Disaster Assistance Response Team

H. Communications Section

The Communications Officer is typically the only position in this section. Based on the anticipated location, size, and duration of the DART, the Communications Officer may recommend the deployment of an Information Technology team member to assist in the setup of the DART.

1. Communications Officer

The Communications Officer manages DART communications, supervises and trains personnel in the use and operations of equipment and systems, and develops and implements the DART communications plan. The Communications Officer reports directly to the Team Leader. Specific responsibilities of the Communications Officer are as follows.

a. Predeparture

Attend general briefings.

  • Confer with OFDA Communications Officer. In addition to the general checklists, discuss initial team communi-cations requirements including:
    • Personnel safety and security.
    • Air-to-ground communications needs.
    • Planning of communications setups, personnel requirements, etc.
    • Operational communications (search and rescue, etc.).
    • DART headquarters communications (intraregion) to DART personnel worksites, USAID/Embassy, affected-country officials, and UN/PVOs/NGOs/IOs.
    • DART headquarters communications (interregion) to OFDA/W and other areas outside the region as necessary.
    • In-country communications support capabilities and availability of:
    • - USAID/Embassy communications.
    • - PSTN (public switched or local telephone system)/ VSAT circuits for voice and e-mail capability.
    • - USAID Computer Net (e-mail).
    • - Existing radio frequency networks and authorizations.
    • - UN/PVO/NGO/IO equipment and frequencies.
    • - AC power, adapters, etc. (or need for generators).
    • - Amateur radio networks (ARRL), Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS).
    • - Internet access, etc.
  • Request USAID/Embassy to provide latest authorized frequency assignments for HF/VHF/UHF radios if available.
  • Assemble the required documents, manuals, and communications equipment and coordinate packaging for shipment. Specify weight, cubes, and number of pieces, and arrange for special handling requirements (radio licenses or authorizations, Air Way Bills [AWB], customs declarations, etc.).
  • Acquire local list of communicators.
  • Acquire current World Radio and TV Handbook or other reference listing of radio frequencies.
  • Ensure all DART members have OFDA eRoom accounts and have been added to the appropriate DART eRoom.

b. In-Country

(1) Immediate Actions

  • Set up initial communications link to OFDA/W (typically satcom, voice/data).
  • Establish/use existing personnel safety and security radio net (typically VHF/UHF voice).
  • Perform immediate initial evaluation of communications situation.
  • Obtain information from USAID/Embassy on frequency uses, call signs and authorizations, available personnel, communications facilities, and USAID Computer Net availability.
  • Select communications site with considerations given to highest available elevation with appropriate clearing for radio and satellite terminal antennas.
  • Set up Communications Center at DART headquarters, suboffices, and residences as required.
  • Develop interim communications plan.
  • Instruct DART members on use of equipment.

(2) Ongoing Actions

  • Continually review and revise communications plans as conditions change.
  • Assist and train DART personnel in the efficient and proper use of communications equipment.
  • Keep OFDA informed of communications methods, procedures, and links.
  • Ensure the proper use of radio protocols and frequencies.
  • Keep radio logs as necessary.

c. Demobilization

  • Review communications requirements and recommend the release of excess equipment and communications personnel.
  • Maintain adequate equipment and support personnel to support the DART until departure.
  • Ensure equipment is accounted for.
  • Ensure equipment being released for shipment is properly packaged and documents are properly prepared (AWB, manifests, customs declarations, etc.).
  • Compile communications’ After Action Report, and prepare or provide documentation for the team’s After Action Report.
  • File radio logs if maintained.

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Next: I. Operations Section
TOC: Disaster Assistance Response Team