Army, Air Force MARS Merge Nets


N1IN

 

Army, Air Force MARS Merge Nets

During a 48 hour DOD sponsored contingency communications exercise which began on 26 October and ended Tuesday evening the Army and Air Force branches of the MARS merged their long-distance radio networks in order to provide communications support following a simulated disruption to the nation’s communications infrastructure. In addition to passing message traffic for the DOD, the scenario also required the MARS stations to interface with the Department of Homeland Security SHARed RESources HF network.

Another objective of the exercise required the MARS operators to reach out to the amateur radio community and attempt to contact amateur radio operators (Hams) in as many counties across the United States as possible. Regarding this objective Army MARS Program Manager Paul English explained, “This communications exercise is sponsored by the DoD to provide MARS operators the opportunity to develop and train interoperability procedures with their state/local ARES emergency coordinators and their Amateur Radio colleagues.”

The plan called for MARS members, using their Amateur Radio call signs and operating on amateur frequencies, to establish two-way communication with Amateur Radio emergency Service (ARES) leadership or members in as many U.S. counties as possible by using VHF/UHF simplex channels or local repeaters or near vertical incidence skywave (NVIS) propagation on HF. “The contact can be with any amateur in the county, if an ARES member or leader is not available,” English added.

“In order to better support [our] new mission, both Army and Air Force MARS are looking for efficiencies in how we conduct our national nets,” Army MARS Chief Stephen Klinefelter said. ”This National Exercise is the perfect venue to test out this new relationship. We will make mistakes and we will improve by learning from those mistakes.”

“Dave Stapchuk, Chief Air Force MARS, commented: “Interoperability is key to mission success. This joint exercise is the first step toward demonstrating that we can be truly interoperable in support of our mission and DoD customer. It also strengthens the operational linkages between our MARS Services and highlights the growing relevance of the contingency communications service we provide to the military and the nation. While there are many challenges to overcome and lessons to be learned, I am optimistic that we will steadily improve our abilities over time thanks to the dedication and commitment of our volunteer members.”

via Army, Air Force MARS Merge Nets.

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Thanks to N1IN for this MARS report.  Hopefully, we can see more interoperability tests between MARS operators and the amateur radio community.  MARS is another part of the emergency communications network of the Department of Defense, with many MARS operators being licensed amateur radio operators. Dave Stepchuk, the Chief of Air Force MARS, says, “This joint exercise is the first step toward demonstrating that we can be truly interoperable in support of our mission and DoD customer…(it) highlghts the growing relevance of the contingency communications service we provide to the military and the nation.”

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Thanks for joining us today!

Aloha es 73 de Russ (KH6JRM.

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