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

R3 MARS small

September 2016 RATS News

The monthly membership meeting will be held on Friday September 16 at 7:30 PM at our usual location at the Richmond Volunteer Rescue Squad Building.

Don’t forget that renewal season is here.  RATS has several repeater systems that are used by many different organizations in the area that support emergency communications and public service events.  You can renew your membership online or at the monthly meetings.

The presentation this month will be about time.  What’s the difference between UTC, Zulu, GMT, TAI, and UT1?  Come out this Friday and find out.  Want to know exactly what time it is?  You’ll hear about several ways that you can have access to millisecond accurate time and how it is managed.

August 2016 RATS Update

Our monthly meeting will be held on Friday, August 19, 2016 at 7:30 PM at our usual location in the Richmond Volunteer Rescue Squad Building.  Come out and visit!

Our program this month will be presented by Mr. Bubba, WW4GW.  He will be talking about Baofeng radios.  Here is a copy of Bubba’s Baofeng Presentation.

Also at this month’s meeting we will be counting ballots for our 2016 Board of Directors election.  Ballots have been mailed.  Either return the ballot by mail so that we have it in our PO Box by Friday, or bring your ballot to the meeting to be counted.

Also, as a follow up to the presentation at last month’s meeting, here are some links to some of the antenna modeling programs and resources that were discussed.

  • 4NEC2 – A full featured and free antenna modeling program.  Very powerful, but has a bit of a learning curve.  The Support Files page has links to a very good four part series on learning to use NEC based antenna modeling programs.
  • EZNEC – Probably the most popular antenna modeling program.  It’s a bit easier to use, but it is not free.  Pay close attention to the limits on segments if you decide to buy this one.
  • NEC2GO – Not as popular as the other two, and not free, but it has some very unique and powerful features, like modeling with variables, unlimited segments, and a network designer.

July 2016 RATS Update

The July monthly membership meeting will be held on Friday July 15, 2016 at our usual location.

The previously planned meeting on Emergency Communications is being postponed.  In its place we will have an interesting and informative presentation (most likely it will be an introduction to antenna modeling) – the details are still being worked out.

We will also have a brief recap of Field Day activities.

We look forward to seeing you at the Meeting.

June 2016 RATS Update – Field Day

The June 2016 RATS membership meeting will be held on June 17 at our usual meeting spot at the Richmond Volunteer Rescue Squad building.

This month we will be reviewing the club equipment that will be used at Field Day.  We will distribute the various equipment cases around and organize the material so that we know what to expect on Field Day.

Field Day 2016Field Day 2016 Logo

ARRL Field Day will be held on June 25th and 25th this year.  RATS and other local clubs will also be involved.  This year we will operate under the W4VCU call sign and operating class of 4A.  We will have four HF stations on the air.  Field Day will be held at the same location we have had it for the last several years, at the Laurel Park Recreation Area at 10301 Hungary Spring Road.

Everyone is invited to come out and participate.  There should be plenty of radios available for all willing visitors to get on the air and make contacts.

VE Testing will be provided on Saturday June 25th in the afternoon.

Set up for Field Day will begin at 11:00 AM on Saturday.  We would like for people to arrive to help by 10:30 AM.  We have four HF stations and antennas to set up.  On air operating begins at 2:00 PM and runs continuously (yes, overnight too) until around noon on Sunday.  We need volunteers to help with set up and take down.  Talk in will be on the 146.88 repeater, PL 74.4 Hz.

May 2016 RATS Updates

The RATS monthly membership meeting will be held on Friday, May 20 at 7:30 PM.  We will be meeting at our usual spot at the Richmond Volunteer Rescue Squad Building.

The presentation this month will be given by Rob Marshall, KI4MCW.  Rob will be showing us how to use an inexpensive USB TV receiver with some free SDR software to receive a wide variety of signals.

Also, Field Day is coming up in June.  We have acquired the Laurel Park Recreation Area site again this year.  More information coming soon.

April 2016 RATS News Updates

The RATS monthly Membership meeting for April will be held Friday April 15 at our usual location.  Directions are here.

The presentation this month will be provided by Steve Crow, KG4PEQ.  Right now, the topic is a mystery, but we’re pretty sure it’ll be informative and entertaining.

A couple of RATS Members make the news!

It’s also time to start thinking about Field Day and officer nominations.  More information on these events will be at the meeting Friday night as well as here on the web site in the near future.

March RATS News

The next RATS membership meeting will be held on Friday March 18 at 7:30 PM at our usual location, Richmond Volunteer Rescue Squad.

We will need to form a nominating committee for this year’s election. So, if you’re interested in helping out, let us know.  This month we will have two presentations.

First will be Ian Enterline N3UVV discussing Skywarn and emergency communications.

Following will be Rick, KA4OHM with a presentation on RF Safety.

We look forward to seeing you there.

RATS February 2016 News

We had another successful Frostfest event.  Thanks to everyone that helped out with the show and also thanks to the vendors and attendees for coming to the show.  We look forward to another great show next year!

This month’s meeting will be held Friday February 19, 2016 at 7:30 PM at our usual location.  We will have a recap of Frostfest and we also will have Sheila Blackley, K4WNW, give a presentation about the trip that she took with her husband, WD4LBR, to the W4DXCC convention in Tennessee.  Sheila is currently President of DDXG.

Also, the Richmond Amateur Radio Club is organizing a special event station commemorating 100 years of Amateur radio in the Richmond Area.  They are looking for volunteers to operate this special event station.  You will be able to operate from your own home station, using your own operating privileges – but you will be operating as W4ZA for your allotted time.  If you are interested, let us know at the meeting this month and we will forward your information to RARC.

We look forward to seeing you at the meeting.