MARS Volunteers Recognized with Gold-Level President’s Volunteer Service Award

A Taunton, MA amateur is among  twelve US Army Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) volunteers being honored with gold-level recognition for the President’s Volunteer Service Award for 2020. Bob Mims, WA1OEZ, the former Director for Region One (New England) along with eleven other award recipients will receive a letter signed by the President of the United States, a certificate of achievement, and a presidential volunteer service lapel pin. Volunteer awards are based on the certifying organization’s recommendation and the number of documented volunteer hours for the year. [Full story]

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Department of Defense Exercise With Amateur Radio Participation, October 2020

Tom Kinahan, N1CPE, writes: For almost the whole month of October, (now through October 26) the Department of Defense is conducting a series of exercises that will train the connection of MARS members to the Amateur Radio Service. There are opportunities for hams to participate in this exercise. 1) Every day at noon local time, there will be a net on 60 meters channel 1 (5.3305 MHz USB) to have checkins from hams. The NCS will ask for your callsign, city and state. As the month moves on, there may be other unplanned requests. 2) Familiarize yourself with the METAR …

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“Communication is Key as MARS Auxiliarists Refine Skills”

From “…The MARS Auxiliarists were tasked with collecting three different kinds of reports,” said English. “They collected county status reports from across the U.S. by interfacing with the amateur radio community; airport weather reports, called METARS, from select airports across CONUS and finally road closure reports.  In total, MARS Ops collected 1,400 city and county status reports; 424 METARSs [Meteorological Terminal Air Reports]; and 190 road closure reports.” [Full story]

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MARS Announces HF Skills Exercise, July 20-24, 2020

From ARRL Web: Members of the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) will conduct an HF skills exercise July 20 – 24 to hone their operating skills and messaging-handling capabilities. MARS members will be reaching out to the amateur radio community via the 60-meters Channel 1 Net (5330.5 kHz dial) twice a day, the SATERN HF net (14.265 MHz), and by contacting various stations via HFLink throughout the exercise. MARS members will be requesting assistance with collecting county status information as well as airport weather information, called METARs. MARS members will also be passing ICS 213 messages to numerous Department of …

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Annual Armed Forces Day Crossband Test Postponed

From ARRL Web: (04/08/2020) – Due to the ongoing COVID-19 response and mitigation actions, the 2020 Armed Forces Day (AFD) Crossband Test scheduled for Saturday, May 9, has been postponed. Because it’s uncertain just when stay-at-home orders will be lifted across the US, AFD planners chose to postpone this year’s event, because the government stations that typically support this event may not be available. Armed Forces Day Crossband Test planners are considering scheduling a November event in honor of Veteran’s Day, depending on COVID-19 mitigation actions. During the AFD Crossband Test, military stations in various locations transmit on selected military …

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N1CPE: “Today’s MARS” at Wellesley ARS, January 21, 2020

The Wellesley Amateur Radio Society will meet on January 21, 2020. Tom Kinahan, N1CPE, will present on “Today’s MARS.”   “MARS or ‘Military Auxiliary Radio System’ has changed dramatically since its creation in 1925. Army and Air Force MARS members support a very different mission than you may have heard of before 2010. Every day, MARS members are operating mixed mode voice/data nets using encrypted communications in support of a Department of Defense (DoD) mission to provide situational awareness to DoD planners, in the event of a ‘very bad day’ scenario.  Learn about MARS, and how all Amateurs can support this …

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Department of Defense Broadcast on 60 Meters, November 16, 2019

Tom Kinahan, N1CPE, writes on the Wellesley ARS mailing list: Just a reminder that tonight at 10 PM EST, there will be a DoD broadcast on 60 meters channel 1, 5330.5 khz upper sideband. This broadcast from two Department of Defense stations on the east and west coasts are a test and demonstration of DoD to amateur interoperability. For the past two weeks, MARS stations operating with their DoD callsigns have been talking to Amateur stations getting situation awareness type reports using 60 meters. At 10 PM, the message will likely be in voice and digital modes. The message will …

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Latest MARS Exercise Instructions

Tom Kinahan, N1CPE, writes:   At this time, we are being asked to reach out to amateurs and capture the following information. There may be MARS operators gathering this sort of information using their amateur callsigns on amateur frequencies, or on 60 meters using their MARS callsigns looking for Amateurs station reports. Status of 50 kW AM broadcast stations: This is for all of the stations in this category in New England. Are they on the air? Need county and city of reporting station. Ping Time to Bring up a command prompt and ping that IP address. The result …

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Armed Forces Cross-Band Test, May 11, 2019

Tom Kinahan, N1CPE, writes on the Wellesley ARS mailing list: May 11 is the Armed Forces Day Cross-band Test, where Amateur stations  listen on military HF frequencies, and use the split function of their HF radio to talk with these stations that are listening in the Amateur bands where we can talk. I do recommend everyone that can to try this, to show that you can do it. If you complete a contact, you can get a QSL card from the station, if you follow the directions in the link below. Frequencies and times for the various stations are listed. …

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MARS Members To Support Defense Department Radio Comms Readiness Exercise

Tom Kinahan, N1CPE, writes: As part of this COMEX, MARS members will reach out to amateur radio operators (on October 24-26) for any information on real life infrastructure failures. We have been practicing this sort of reporting as part of both Western and Eastern Mass ARES nets. If there are any know local failures of infrastructure, defined as Power, Water, Medical, Sanitation, Communications or Transportation, just let the MARS operator know with information on your county name, or your zip code (which is easy to determine county name with).  MARS operators will use non-internet connected VHF/UHF repeaters as well as …

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Annual Armed Forces Day Crossband Communication Test Set for Saturday, May 12

The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) will sponsor the traditional military/Amateur Radio communication tests to mark the 67th annual Armed Forces Day (AFD) on Saturday, May 12. Armed Forces Day is May 19, but the AFD Crossband Military-Amateur Radio event traditionally takes place one week earlier in order to avoid conflicting with Hamvention. Complete information, including military stations, modes, and frequencies, is available. The annual celebration is a unique opportunity to test two-way communication between radio amateurs and military stations (authorized under §97.111 of the Amateur Service rules). It features traditional military-to-amateur crossband SSB voice, CW, practice using legacy interoperability …

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Amateur Radio – MARS interoperability exercise (November 4-6)

Elements of the US Department of Defense (DOD) will conduct a “communications interoperability” training exercise November 4-6, once again simulating a “very bad day” scenario. Amateur Radio and MARS organizations will take part.

“This exercise will begin with a national massive coronal mass ejection event which will impact the national power grid as well as all forms of traditional communication, including landline telephone, cellphone, satellite, and Internet connectivity,” Army MARS Program Manager Paul English, WD8DBY, explained in an announcement.

During the exercise, a designated DOD Headquarters entity will request county-by-county status reports for the 3,143 US counties and county equivalents, to gain situational awareness and to determine the extent of impact of the scenario. Army and Air Force MARS organizations will work in conjunction with the Amateur Radio community, primarily on the 60-meter interoperability channels as well as on HF NVIS frequencies and local VHF and UHF, non-Internet linked Amateur Radio repeaters.

Again, this year, a military station on the east coast and the Fort Huachuca, Arizona, HF station will conduct a high-power broadcast on 60-meter channel 1 (5330.5 kHz) on Saturday from 0300 to 0315 UTC. New this year will be an informational broadcast on Sunday, on 13,483.5 kHz USB from 1600 to 1615 UTC. Amateur Radio operators should monitor these broadcasts for more information about the exercise and how they can participate in this communications exercise, English said.

“We want to continue building on the outstanding cooperative working relationship with the ARRL and the Amateur Radio community,” English said. “We want to expand the use of the 60-meter interop channels between the military and amateur community for emergency communications, and we hope the Amateur Radio community will give us some good feedback on the use of both the 5-MHz interop and the new 13-MHz broadcast channels as a means of information dissemination during a very bad day scenario. (Thanks Tom, N1CPE)

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MARS Exercise

MARS will be holding an exercise starting Sunday (7/23/17) at 11:00 a.m. through 8:00 p.m. on Thursday (7/27/17).

ARES and general amateur radio operators should expect that at some point during this period, MARS members may be tasked to obtain information from the Amateur Radio operators in our areas.  Most likely, this will be the same type of infrastructure reporting we have done in the past and is done on the Sunday morning WMA HF net. We will only be looking for real, actual conditions; nothing simulated.

MARS communicators might try to obtain this infromation duing various scheduled nets including NTS messages nets, club nets, etc. They may also try to obtain information via the various SKYWARN and ARES/RACES partnered repeaters.

In addition to infrastructure reports, MARS is often interested in relayed reports from the avaiation automated weather systems (ASOS). Report weather information from airport ATIS/ASOS stations that you can directly receive via radio. These stations broadcast continuously in the 120.000 – 138.000 MHz frequency range using amplitude modulation. Information from the ATIS should include airport, time, temperature, altimeter (barometer), wind, precipitation, and visibility.

A list of stations with their frequencies and a map can be found at:
A brief introduction to ATIS can be found at:
A more detailed introduction to ATIS/ASOS can be found at:
Marek Kozubal, KB1NCG
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ARES-NTS Forum, April 24, 2004

There were 12 attendees at the seminar and they were as follows: KB1EKN-Mark Duff Metro Boston ARES District Emergency Coordinator WQ1O-Frank Olaughlin Cape Cod ARES District Emergency Coordinator N1XTB-Philip McNamara Bridgewater ARES Team Member K9HI-Phil Temples Eastern Massachusetts ARRL Section Manager WA1IDA-Bob Salow Eastern Massachusetts Assistant Section Manager N1LKJ-Jim Ward Eastern Massachusetts Section NTS Traffic Manager N1BDA-Steve Telsey Middlesex County ARES District Emergency Coordinator KW1U-Marcia Forde NTS EAS Chairperson W1GMF-Gil Follett NTS Traffic Handler W3EVE-Steve Schwarm Norfolk County ARES District Emergency Coordinator N1FY-Carl Aveni Bridgewater ARES Emergency Coordinator KD1CY-Rob Macedo ARES SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Taunton The first topic of …

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