Local Civil Air Patrol squadron participates in Defense Department exercise

Groton — The Thames River Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol, based at Groton-New London Airport, took part in a two-day Department of Defense quarterly training exercise over the Nov. 4-5 weekend.

The exercise imagined that a massive solar storm disabled the power grid and eliminated all forms of normal communications; land lines, cellphone, satellite, and the internet.

CAP's nationwide communications system consists of 840 high frequency radio stations, 5,000 fixed very high frequency stations, and 10,000 mobile radios. CAP's system joined the amateur radio community, the Military Auxiliary Radio System, FEMA, and other cooperating agencies to determine the extent of national coverage, the "interoperability" among the participants, and the level of support for the incident command staff and field operations, Twelve members from Groton took part.

On Nov. 4, cadets and senior members attended a seven-hour training session at the Connecticut National Guard's Camp Hartell in Windsor Locks. Experienced radio operators and neophytes reviewed standard procedures ran equipment drills.

On Nov. 5, the Groton squadron operated a stationary base radio at the airport and a mobile unit in their search and rescue van. They joined 21 other state stations maintaining lines of communication locally and with national headquarters. Meanwhile, CAP aircraft and ground vehicles stayed on alert waiting for deployment.

The local exercise ended with the submission of communication logs to Connecticut headquarters and a review of lessons learned.

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