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Partnering with tribes on HF Radio system pilot program

Partnering with tribes on HF Radio system pilot program

With the focus on providing technical expertise and collaboration for enhancing HF Radio system redundancy, State Guard and Emergency Management personnel worked with four tribes Feb. 21-23, 2024, in support of emergency management operations.

“This is another excellent example of us working together with the tribes,” said Erik Riske, tribal liaison, Washington Emergency Management Division.

Riske approached Washington State Guard Chief Warrant Officer Bill Elliott and Emergency Management SHAred RESources (SHARES) High Frequency (HF) radio program Regional Coordinator Scott Dakers about a pilot program focused on the existing HF radio resources each tribe had already.

“Bill and I worked together to identify four tribes that had an interest in this program and were close enough to complete logistically with the limited time and resources,” said Riske. “The expectations of this project were to help those tribes review and learn more about SHARES.”

From February 21-23, Washington State Guard Major Aaron Logan and Warrant Officer One Jared Morrison met with the Quinault, Squaxin Island and Chehalis Tribes focused on improving the emergency communications capabilities through SHARES.

National security and emergency preparedness personnel need to transmit critical messages to coordinate emergency operations when traditional means of communicating via landlines and cellphones are damaged or destroyed. The SHARES program provides an additional means for users to communicate using existing HF radio resources of government, critical infrastructure, and disaster response organizations to coordinate and transmit emergency messages. SHARES users rely on HF radio communications to perform critical functions, including those areas related to leadership, safety, maintenance of law and order, finance, and public health.

“Our goal was to cultivate transparent communication channels and fortify support networks among agencies and personnel, while simultaneously empowering tribal nations with self-sufficiency, ensuring access to vital resources during critical junctures,” said Logan. “The overarching goal is to derive insights from past experiences, particularly those garnered from the statewide HF communications endeavor, to guide and enhance this unique effort.”

Riske hopes that through the pilot program they will identify a course for enhancing the HF radio system through all the tribal nations in the state.

“We are hoping to learn from and bring back information to assess a next phase approach for the rest of the tribes,” said Riske. “I was keenly interested in having Major Logan and Warrant Officer One Morrison participate in our project not only to demonstrate our willingness and interest to work together to benefit the tribes but also to round out a great complimentary team adding specific skill sets.”

The final tribe, the Makah, will complete their project sometime in March.

(Photo caption: Warrant Officer One Jared Morrison and Maj. Aaron Logan talk with members of the Chehalis Tribe Emergency Management professionals during a visit to their offices on Feb. 23, 2024. )