MARS Request for Assistance

DATE:          21 October 2016


EXERCISE (COMEX) 16-4, 301800Z OCTOBER 2016 – 011800Z NOVEMBER 2016


I am sure most of you are aware of the Department of Defense (DOD) auxiliary program called the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS).  The MARS program is a joint service program supported by the service branches of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force. Today’s MARS program has grown considerably into a modern contingency radio communications system for the DOD ensuring our nation can communicate during times of complex catastrophes and in cyber denied or impaired environments. MARS is the program that trains, organizes, and tasks dedicated citizen volunteer amateur radio operators authorized to operate in support of the DOD Global High-Frequency Enterprise Radio Network (GHFERN). The MARS program conducts frequent regional and national exercises to ensure the readiness of MARS operators.

As part of Region 3, U.S. Army MARS(MD/DC, VA, WV, PA, DE), we would like to request your support, assistance and joint participation during the next national level exercise scheduled from 1800Z Sunday, 30 October 2016 through 1800Z Monday, 1 November 2016. The MARS intent of this exercise is to establish and sustain dependable, multi-layer HF radio network communications to support DOD objectives and interface with relevant amateur radio networks as required to fulfill DOD requirements under a “Very Bad Day Scenario”.

Amateur radio activity in this COMEX is intended to provide an opportunity for individual, non-MARS affiliated amateur radio stations to support a DOD activity in a realistic, ad-hoc manner. For the purposes of this COMEX, no distinction is intended between independent
amateurs, ARES or RACES affiliated amateurs and organizations. MARS will communicate with amateur operators via voice (person-to-Person) mode. No digital capability or special formats will be needed to communicate and relay information with the MARS operators.  On amateur only bands MARS operators may use their respective amateur call-sign. However, on 60 meters MARS operators will use their assigned military call-sign.

The most active time period estimated for MARS stations to interact with local and regional amateur stations will be between 0001Z, 31 OCT and 1159Z 31 OCT 2016, but activity will occur over the entire exercise period. MARS stations, using there MARS call sign will periodically monitor the 60-meter channels during this time period. To kick off this exercise, MARS is encouraging the Amateur Radio community to monitor 5,330.5 kHz from 0300-0400 UTC on October 31, when MARS will conduct a high-power voice broadcasts, alternating between military stations on the East Coast and West Coast. MARS wants Amateur Radio operators to submit reception reports, as indicated in the 60 meter voice broadcast.

For the remainder of the exercise, MARS personnel will be calling for Amateur Radio operators on the five 60 meter channels as well as on established Amateur Radio nets on HF and on VHF/UHF repeaters.

As part of exercise tasks MARS stations will conduct conversations with amateur operators about local conditions in around their county. During the conversation, MARS operators will be asking basic questions, such as the status of commercial power, public water systems, road
conditions, and weather conditions. These will be voice person-to-person conversations; amateur stations do not need to use any digital modes or know any special messaging formats. When information is requested please do not make up notional or false reports to any request for information, but provide real-world, real-time conditions only. For example requests for local weather data should be the current observable weather conditions. Requests related to power should be the current electrical grid status for the area reporting, for example power on or power off.

As the Region 3 PAO I will serve as your Region 3 MARS Point of Contact (POC) to facilitate additional information sharing and support to answering any questions or concerns from the greater amateur radio community, please use the contact information below for any inquiries.

For additional information please follow this link to an ARRL article on this upcoming exercise MARS-Amateur Radio Interoperability Exercise to Test “Very Bad Day” Scenario

You can also register for a special webinar conducted by U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force Headquarters staff on MARS and the pending excise on, 25 October 2016 via the registration link on the ARRL site 25 OCT 2016, MARS WEBINAR Registration.

Please feel free to further distribute this message among the amateur radio community. I look forward to your support and participation in this national level exercise and future opportunities to share information on MARS.

Chon K3DHS
Public Affairs Officer
Region 3, U.S. ARMY MARS
Mobile 202-746-5089

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