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2. Exercise Objectives

2.1. Introduction

The point of any exercise should be to accomplish something. This section outlines some of the key objectives for the current exercise.

2.2. Structured Communications

The October 2009 SET had intended to demonstrate a structured flow of messages between the counties and the State EOC, along existing chain of command lines. (If you will recall, an earlier exercise along an incident-specific structure elicited some significant complaints.)
The results were not encouraging. Only one of the section nets organized as expected, and few counties or Districts attempted to exploit the NTS structure. The exercise structure did leave the nets a lot of opportunity to apply their own creativity, but apparently the intent was insufficiently clear.
For this exercise, net schedules and message paths will be detailed ahead of time. Each section net has a schedule and specified liaisons. Each District has specified liaisons. There will still need to be some thought applied to the interface between the District and the appropriate VHF net, but both responsible parties are known well ahead of time.

2.3. Net Response Plan

Over recent years, it appears that nets have lost the ability or incentive to be able to mobilize in response to an incident. Nets are accustomed to meeting at a specific time and frequency and somehow are not prepared to change.
However, when an incident occurs, the National Traffic System is a vital part of the overall response. ARES units are structured to respond locally, and their communications capability is largely local. They require the services of NTS for longer haul communications, as well as to provide structure in the event of a heavy communications load.
This exercise will only take a small step in the direction of giving the nets the skills needed. There will be more interfaces with the ARES organization, and an opportunity will be given for close leadership cooperation between ARES and NTS.

2.4. ARES Familiarity

Most net managers have little opportunity in ordinary circumstances to interface with ARES organizations. However, familiarity with the individuals involved and their capabilities is vital if NTS is to offer needed services in the event of an incident. This exercise will give NTS leaders some exposure to ARES leaders. Especially in the case of the VHF nets, they will need to work closely to be successful.
This, of course, is not sufficient, but it is a start. Net managers should begin thinking about issues such as:
  • What might my net be called on to do in the event of some kind of incident or emergency
  • How will I notify my members in the event of an unexpected net activation
  • If I need to activate at a different time of day, will I know how to respond to different band conditions
  • Do I know which net members might be available if we have a net meeting at a time different than normal
  • For VHF nets, do I have a plan to respond in the event my repeater is out of service
These are only a few of the questions net managers should begin thinking about. This exercise will not answer these questions, but we hope to begin providing the insight necessary for the nets to begin grappling with them.