Air Force & Army MARS COMEX
By: Clarence, K4CNM – (AAA3R3, Army MARS Region Three Operations Officer)
The Air Force and Army MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System) will conduct their first 2016 communications exercise (COMEX) from 7:00 am until 6:59 pm EST on Friday, 12 February. The scenario will be: there is no power, no phones (cell or landline), and no internet. Also, internet linked radio repeaters (such as D-Star) should not be used. One of the objectives of this COMEX is to reach as many counties and cities within the entire country as possible. It is expected that sometime during the second hour (8–9 am), a request will come down asking MARS stations to contact hams for a local conditions report. That request will probably have a deadline of around eight hours (and certainly be due a couple of hours before End of Exercise – ENDEX). Prior contact and pre-arranged schedules between MARS stations and hams is permitted and encouraged.
MARS stations will be instructed to collect the data from hams via radio only – using any FCC authorized amateur frequency and/or mode – and prepare the report that will be consolidated within the region and then sent back up the line. Note: In order not to unduly excite those who are not aware of the COMEX, only real information should be reported. Following is a list the items (with possible conditions) that will be requested:
- Power: Fully functional, brownout, rolling or partial blackouts, complete outage
- Water: Full service, service in parts of county only, contaminated, no service
- Sanitation: Fully functional, service in parts of county only, no service
- Medical facilities: Fully functional, partial service due to facilities, partial service due to personnel, facilities max’ed out, none available due loss of personnel or infrastructure
- Communications: Fully functional, partial service, no service
- Transportation: Fully functional, service in parts of county only, no service
Unless there is something actually going on, report everything as fully functional. The condition of one or more of these might not be known, that’s okay, report what is known; reports from other hams may fill in the missing data. Hams can report on any county or city that they have first-hand knowledge of.
MARS Region Three is the same as FEMA’s Region Three and includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. According to the FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) code list there are 245 counties and 42 independent cities within our region. Virginia has 95 of those counties and all but one of the cities.
More information about the Army MARS program is available.
All Amateurs are encouraged to forward this to other groups and clubs that you are a member of and to any of your ham buddies that might be interested. More information will be provided as it becomes available.