MARS in Harvey:
Bill Sexton (N1IN)
September 2, 2017
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Four Teams deploy, New Chief in
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:
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
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
ADAPTED FROM 2017 UPDATE, “ARMY MARS AT
90,” LULU PRESS, 96 PAGES, $13.95 PLUS
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MARS in Harvey:
by W6EM on September 2, 2017
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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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