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Army MARS program is a rewarding way to add to the enjoyment of your amateur radio hobby !
If you are a licensed Ham operator, you can become part of the Army MARS world-wide communications system by being operationally ready to support DOD emergency and contingency communications missions and other agencies as requested.
MARS operations will help you to increase your communications skills and capabilities. With the MARS program, you will learn more about your hobby. Certain on-line courses in communications/electronics subjects are free to all Army MARS members.
ARMY MARS members operate and experiment on specially assigned military radio frequencies in voice, teletype, and digital modes of communications. You can join a group of dedicated fellow radio amateurs participating in a meaningful public service.
Connect with the United States Army and become part of the professional military communications family.
WE ARE THE VOICE OF THE US ARMY
Thank you for being interested in Army MARS. A friend may have described MARS in glowing terms, but we want you to get an honest picture of the MARS program - the reality of being a member of MARS.
MARS is directed by the Department of Defense (DOD). The MARS mission is to support a Global HF Enterprise in cyber impaired or denied environments on behalf of the Department of the Army, Department of defense, in order to support the objectives of the United States. The Global High Frequency Enterprise Radio Network (GHFERN) is designed to deliver messages primarily using High Frequency (HF) radio, although VHF radio may be utilized in some segments of the network. The GHFERN is operated by government personnel, contractors, military personnel and supported by a corps of citizen volunteers. The network supports Phone Patch/Radio Wire Integration (RWI) and point to point data and voice message circuits, compliant with the procedures outlined in the Allied Communications Publications.
MARS prepares for its mission by conducting daily training nets during which members practice handling traffic and train in the MARS operating methods. MARS operating is much more structured than the amateur system, it's goal is to have everyone use a standard military-type procedure. This reduces traffic handling time and increases accuracy. Traffic and training is handled using voice and digital modes.
WHY JOIN MARS?
While there are enjoyable aspects to being a MARS operator, the first motivation should be service. Enjoyment will come from the satisfaction of putting your equipment , time and expertise to good use as well as significantly improving you traffic handling communication skills. As you gain experience, net control and staff positions become available to further enhance your capabilities and responsibilities.
At first you receive a provisional authority issued by the Department of the Army under authority of the National Telecommunications and Information Agency to start your training in Army MARS. You will receive manuals and other documentation which provide operating rules and regulations and message handling procedures. Within 12 months of receiving your temporary license, you must complete an open book exam and demonstrate your ability to operate in a MARS net and handle traffic. Upon successful completion of the exam and demonstration of your operating ability, you will be granted a permanent Authority to Operate (ATO) which runs concurrently with your Amateur Radio license. Most MARS nets are training nets, critiquing of procedure is ongoing and is considered constructive criticism utilized to improve your operating abilities. All MARS members must report their participation monthly to remain in the program.
High Frequency operation is the backbone of Army MARS operation. Your Amateur equipment may require modification because all MARS operation is on frequencies outside the Amateur bands. You are responsible for the modification of your equipment. E-mail and computer capabilities are required; much administrative traffic is disseminated by e-mail. A computer with a windows operating system is necessary to use the traffic management and sound card based modem software used for MIL-STD communications and to encode and decode message traffic.
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