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MARS in Harvey:

Bill Sexton (N1IN) on September 2, 2017
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Four Teams deploy, New Chief in Action(head) An Ill Wind.(subhead) Mother Nature didn't pull any punches while battle- testing the new wrinkles at Army and Air Force MARS. It was their first response to real crisis under DoD’s revised guidelines but even so, the upgraded military support mission and streamlined resources unfolded smoothly, at least in this writer’s estimation. Of course, what remained to be measured could be most crucial: endurance.

ARMARS initially deployed four communications teams six hours before Harvey’s first landfall on Aug. 25, 2017—two to reinforce the Texas Military Forces' HQ at Camp Mabry, Austin; one team to Mission Command in San Antonio, and one to Camp Swift, the National Guard training post at hard-hit Bastrop on the Colorado River. Region 6 networks switched to emergency mode with volunteer region director Rodney Warner’s fully trained and equipped cadre poised for dispatch wherever summoned.

Members of both MARS branches were still reacting to lessons from the DoD national exercise barely two months previously. Then, Air Force and Army MARS operated on the air as a single team, sharing net controls and relay teams. Outreach to the general ham community and National Guard members was a major task. Unlike that drill, for Harvey the two branches were alerted separately. Perhaps the difference reflects their paramount task of supporting DoD elements in national contingencies; Harvey for all its horrific destruction was regional from the communications viewpoint.

ARMARS Chief, as Hurricane Volunteer.(subhead) CAM Paul English resides in the central Texas town of Salado, which suddenly found itself designated as a processing center for evacuees. Off duty, he volunteered as a civil reservist to help with the chaotic influx. Bell County Expo Center became a R&R facility where the homeless were sorted into busloads of 50 or so and forwarded to separate, widely-dispersed inland encampments. That way, no one town should be overwhelmed.

English had witnessed civil catastrophe first-hand during the Haiti earthquake of 2010. Two years later he came to MARS as a DoD civilian. He succeeded Stephen G. Klinefelter as chief last spring.

Change of command calls for a colorful ritual starring the old and new leaders. These two truly earned that ceremonial honor. In his four years the fast-on-his- feet, open-minded Klinefelter success- fully hustled Army MARS back into the military mainstream after four decades when it was mostly ignored by the Army. As his deputy, English, an Extra Class ham (WD8DBY), brought patience, thoughtfulness and single-minded clarity to the command.

However, English got no HQ ceremony. He’s evidently the first CAM not stationed at the MARS command center; he tele-commands from home near Fort Hood TX, some 850 miles east of Fort Huachuca. Fort Hood is the Army’s largest base and home of the vaunted First Cavalry Division with which Paul had served in Iraq. (Interesting coincidence: when NETCOM’s predecessor unit moved to Fort Huachuca after the war in Vietnam, “many skilled personnel” opted to stay put “rather than become pioneers in desolate, rattlesnake-infested Arizona.”) (Army STRATCOM Official History.)


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MARS in Harvey:  
by W6EM on September 2, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Nice story, but what did the teams accomplish? Let's hear that part of the story. In view of what I'm about to say, probably not too much.

Beaumont needed drinking water. Hundreds of thousands of 12 ounce cans from Anheuser Busch in Atlanta were trucked four or five days ago to Arlington (Dallas) and western Louisiana. Did the military get it to Beaumont? Nope. Even yesterday, people on TV standing in line to buy bottled water. And some scalpers trying to sell it as well.

Food....Where were the MREs? All we heard about were helo extractions. Not much about people getting food to eat in either Houston or Beaumont. How many days did it take to get MREs into Houston's shelters and those in Beaumont?

All of the C-130s, Chinooks and Blackhawks could have brought the water and MREs to people. They evac'ed many to Dallas.

The heart of the problem appears to be the "one-storm- seasoned" new FEMA director. Assisting with one tornado in Tuscaloosa 5 years ago isn't really enough experience, I guess, to be effective. Maybe Mr. T should have asked Craig Fugate to stick around. Or asked General Honore to pick up the baton. At least they know how to move stuff and move it quickly.

Sorry, but although thankful our son and family were spared storm damage, the federal response left/leaves a lot to be desired. Not just in my opinion, but that of General Honore.....with his boots on the ground. And now Mr. T steps off of AF-1 in Houston this morning in his jacket and patent leather loafers.....

73 from a very disgruntled and disappointed citizen.

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