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Supporting Contingency Communications to Help TSA Maintain Mission Focus

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Jeffrey Smith, stationed in Pensacola, Florida, is a Telecommunications Specialist with the Office of Security Operations Preparedness and Response Division. He is often as mobile as the contingency communications equipment he trains on, installs, troubleshoots and conducts exercises with – including High Frequency (HF) radio equipment, satellite phones, satellite systems and a handful of other mobile communications assets.

Smith’s work supports a critical layer of communications, enabling TSA locations to communicate by HF radio and satellite when communications such as internet, landline, and cell phone services are degraded because of natural disaster or manmade events. Maintaining communications during times of crisis is integral to mission success, especially as TSA continues to implement intelligence-driven, risk-based security. Airports with HF radio and satellite capability can send messages back to the Transportation Security Operations Center and other airports requesting assistance, procuring information or receiving status updates.

Since joining the Preparedness and Response Division in 2006, Smith has played a key role in growing the communications program from five airports to more than 110.

“What I do matters because it ensures that the agency will always be able to communicate regardless of the circumstances – whether due to devastating natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornados, or even something man made. The technology I support ensures that TSA will always be able to send and receive important and, in some cases, life-saving messages.

“I have had the very good fortune to be able to turn my passion and hobby of more than 30 years into a career at TSA. My job has given me the opportunity to meet so many amazing TSA employees across the nation and U.S. territories. I am especially struck by the number of employees interested in radio. It’s great to see that spark that lights up in someone’s eye when their message travels thousands of miles from one airport to another simply by using a radio. That’s pretty amazing.

“The ability to always be flexible and willing to adapt in a variety of situations is an essential, if not challenging, part of my job. Developing radio communications architecture from the ground up in new locations guarantees challenges, but I am always able to learn and grow my skills from each experience. A personal challenge of mine is to always leave an airport in a better communications place than when I arrived.”

From the Office of Strategic Communications/Public Affairs

Latest revision: 27 June 2013