When landline communications links are on the fritz and the job is too massive for local cellular communications, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C., stands ready to answer the call. NRL has outfitted Humvees with the capability of immediately providing two-way satellite commercial links and a private cellular telephone network. The system can even handle streaming video.
"The first emergency response teams to a disaster often falsely believes there will be basic infrastructure in place, such as phone lines, in place to support their work. We can deliver telephone and data connectivity anywhere," said Chris Herndon, the NRL project manager InfraLynx (Infrastructure Linkage and Restoration), the Humvee communications project.
Originally designed to support several U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations, the modular communications components installed on the Humvees are entirely self-contained and can be configured to fit the needs of a particular civilian or military situation.
NRL was able to mobilize two Humvees within 12 hours when the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) agency-wide request for communications assistance in the days following New York City's World Trade Center collapse. Just when the Humvees were to set off for New York City, FEMA decided additional communications assistance was not needed, but the exercise proved to the NRL team just how quickly they could customize the Humvee-based communications units and get them on the road.
Humvee is short for HMMWV, a military term for "High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle," while Hummer refers to the similar vehicles produced for civilian markets.