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Marathon Exercise Tests MARS Endurance:

Bill Sexton (N1IN) on November 19, 2013
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Army MARS Chief Stephen Klinefelter declared the multi-faceted national communications exercise held Nov. 3-5 “an unequivocal success” and thanked all three MARS branches and the other participating military units and civil agencies for their “hard work, long hours, and dedication to the mission.” “This 48-hour exercise was designed to test and stress our networks and our members” ability to process and respond to a variety of message traffic,” Klinefelter said in a message addressed to all participants. “This was an event of which you should be proud.”

In the drill scenario, a catastrophe had wiped out normal phone and Internet links. Communication was by voice and digital HF radio, the bulk encrypted, as it would be in a hostile contingency. From 1 p.m. Sunday to p.m. Tuesday nets operated without a break throughout the 48 states with military MARS stations overseas also connected. More than 5,500 hours operation was reported by the Army MARS participants alone. In addition to National Guard and civil agencies, the American Radio Relay League activated its MARS station at the League’s Newington CT HQ and Massachusetts ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) handled exercise traffic. Text of Mr. Klinefelter’s message:

“I WANT TO EXPRESS MY THANKS TO ALL MARS PERSONNEL, PARTICIPATING ACTIVE AND RESERVE ARMY HEADQUARTERS, ANDPARTICIPATING STATE AGENCIES FOR AN OUTSTANDING NATIONAL EXERCISE HELD FROM3-5 NOV. THIS 48 HOUR LONG EXERCISE WAS DESIGNED TO TEST AND STRESS OUR NETWORKS ANDOUR MEMBERS' ABILITY TO PROCESS AND RESPOND TO A VARIETY OF MESSAGE TRAFFIC.THIS EXERCISE WAS AN UNEQUIVOCAL SUCCESS. I CONDUCTED AN AFTER ACTION TELECON ON 14 NOV WITH OUR DOD PARTNER, REGIONDIRECTORS, AND OSCAR NET MAJOR RELAY STATIONS. “OUR DOD PARTNER STATED THATHE WAS IMPRESSED WITH HOW WELL THE MARS VOLUNTEERS HANDLED THIS EXERCISE.HE WAS VERY APPRECIATIVE OF THE LEVEL OF EFFORT DEMONSTRATED BY ALLPARTICIPANTS AND IMPRESSED WITH YOUR ABILITY TO MOVE THAT AMOUNT OF MESSAGETRAFFIC. DURING THE TELECON, EACH REGION DIRECTOR HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO TALK TOVARIOUS AREAS THEY THOUGHT WERE HANDLED WELL AND AREAS WHERE THEY BELIEVEADDITIONAL TRAINING IS REQUIRED.” THESE COMMENTS WILL BE INCLUDED IN THEOVERALL AFTER ACTION REPORT PUBLISHED BY HQS. “THESE COMMENTS WILL ALSO BEUSED TO SHAPE TRAINING REQUIREMENTS AS WE NOW BEGIN PLANNING THE 2014EXERCISE SCHEDULE.” YOU WILL SEE THE PROPOSED 2014 CALENDAR DURING NEXTWEEK'S BROADCAST. DURING THIS 48 HOUR EXERCISE, ARMY MARS MEMBERS CONTRIBUTED MORE THAN 5,500 HOURS OF SUPPORT; THAT AMOUNT FAR EXCEEDED MY EXPECTATIONS. “WHEN WE DO ANEXERCISE OF THIS MAGNITUDE IN THE FUTURE, I ALSO WANT TO COLLECTPARTICIPATION DATA FROM THE OTHER MARS SERVICES. I TRULY APPRECIATE THE HARD WORK, LONG HOURS, AND DEDICATION TO THE MISSION FROM ALL PARTICIPANTS. “THIS WAS AN EVENT OF WHICH YOU SHOULD BE PROUD.” WE NEED TO NOW REMEMBER THE LESSONS WE LEARNED AND INCORPORATE THOSE INTO OURTRAINING PROGRAMS. YOU HAVE DEFINITELY SET A NEW BAR OF SUCCESS! CAM Bill Sexton 22013-11-19T22:56:00Z2013-11-19T22:56:00Z

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