Setting Sail

RRI Restructuring Proposal Approved

On March 5, the RRI Board of Directors met to discuss the results of the recent restructuring meeting. Of particular interest during discussions was the input received from the many RRI Registered Radio Operators both during and after the meeting. Because the input from RRI volunteers was nearly 100-percent positive (in fact, only one negative comment was received), the Board of Directors voted to approve the outline of the restructuring plan.

Everyone involved was surprised at not just the broad support for the plan, but the overtly enthusiastic support from many. Numerous emails were received in which volunteers expressed the desire to get involved as soon as possible. Of course, there remains some work to be done before we can begin implementing the plan.

First, the RRI Emergency Communications Committee (ECC) will meet on March 12 to discuss training requirements for Certified Radio Operators. Once the ECC has the plan developed, it will be shared with the RRI Board of Directors who will either recommend changes or approve the plan as developed.

Second, an ad-hoc committee of Digital Traffic Network (DTN) managers will develop the methodology for implementing the DTN “virtual private network tunnel,” which will support the parallel, specialized traffic operation discussed during the restructuring meeting.

Both above processes will likely take less than a few weeks to complete. However, there is more. Restructuring will, of course, require a variety of administrative tasks. For example, RRI training materials must be revised to accommodate new procedures and methods. Likewise, the National Response Plan (“RRI National Emergency Communications Response Guidelines”) must also be modified to implement the new procedures.

Restructuring and the RRI National Response Plan

While we are on the topic of the National Response Plan it is a good opportunity to discuss emergency communications response. As many know, RRI developed the FIRST and ONLY National Response Plan in the history of the Amateur Radio Service. The prototype of this plan was tested very successfully during the Federal “Cascadia Rising” exercise in 2016 and has since been updated and modified periodically to keep pace with the times.

One of the benefits of the RRI Restructuring Plan will be an improved ability to respond to a major regional or national communications emergency. While RRI had broad support for the plan from the local ARES, RACES, and AUXCOMM units, the refusal of some ARRL volunteers to participate in RRI processes was a major impediment to its effectiveness. The ability to function independent of ARRL assets will allow us to support our emergency services customers more effectively, thereby solving a long-standing, intractable problem in the traffic system.


One of the important features of this plan will be the fact that it does offer interoperability with NTS resources. Any NTS operator can inject a radiogram or radiogram-ICS213 message into this new, independent RRI system. Likewise, any NTS operator can become an RRI Registered Radio Operator or Certified Radio Operator. However, in doing so, any RRI volunteer must agree to abide by RRI operating standards, policies, and procedures.

Setting Sail…

The songwriter Nanci Griffith once asked the question “when you’re leaving the harbor do you cry out to the shore, or do you bless the waves of the ocean and call your vessel home?” Undoubtedly, this restructuring plan will likely ruffle a few feathers or perhaps cause distress amongst those who struggle with change. Undoubtedly, a few will refuse to join RRI on this new journey. However, the time has come for RRI to recognize that it is time to set sail and chart a new course for both our organization and all public service communications volunteers. The old methods were simply no longer effective, and the political environment under the existing structure was fraught with unnecessary politics in which the desire of a minority to assert power and control suppressed the desire for noble purpose and the virtues of altruism.

If you haven’t done so already, we hope you will join us on this exciting voyage into the future of the traffic system and public service communications. There’s plenty of room aboard the RRI ship!