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Author Topic: Navy MARS kaput?  (Read 70481 times)

Posts: 20


« Reply #90 on: July 25, 2009, 07:55:39 AM »

W6EM Wrote:

"I left Army MARS about 5 years ago because it was no longer an organization who's primary purpose was to serve those who serve. It has been morphed into a service to serve other government agencies.

The new Army MARS is not what it used to be. If, on the other hand, desire to compete with ARES or RACES, or better yet, find yourself being a volunteer bridge for the airport TSA folks to pass messages back and forth, its your cup of tea.

NAVY/MARINE CORPS and AIR FORCE MARS remained in spirit to serve those who serve in the military and their families. If there truly is no longer a need to do that, then the programs should sunset.

As a taxpayer, I do not think it appropriate for government agencies to "contract" for supplementary radio communications services that are for agency business purposes. Emergency or otherwise. They should, if there is a continuing need, purchase, install and train their PAID STAFFS to perform needed business functions.

Maybe its time to reflect back on people who really helped when a bridge was needed to deployed personnel and their families. Do you think General/senator Barry Goldwater, k7UGA, if alive today, would support sending members out to provide a message service for airport security people?

Yes, the new MARS, or at least the Army/Kachina Corporation version isn't for everyone. "

*  My Comments Below  *
This is a prevalent feeling among some in the tri-service Military Auxillary Radio System that view life always through a rear-view mirror; so as not to be frightened by progress; or reality.

Air Force MARS just underwent the complex and painful re-alignement of call signs to conform to FEMA regions.  Do you honestly think they did that to better handle MARSGRAMS?

The "Bridge" that was used to navigate the gap between the home front and the service arena has been spanned by technology; like it or not.  To choose to ignore the advent of Cellular and Internet communications is much like what an ostritch does to avoid facing up to reality.  

I really hate to be the first to inform you of this:

If you hide your head in the sand, it doesn't actually displace reality.  Additionally,it makes a large target out of your backside.  You have really painted a large one with your comments here.  

I don't see ARES or RACES devoting a large part of their on-air presence to training.  

ARRL has a pay to play plan to get qualified as an emergency communicator.  For around $180.00 US, you can get the t-shirt.  

ARES is the Amway of Emergency Communicatins.  I pay $39.00 a year to be the local ARES EC.  

I have a seat in the LEPC, and a stattion at the EOC/911 Center that is independent of either MARS, ARES or RACES.  

It is there for the purpose of aux communications support.  

I bring a lot of hats along when I use it.  Sometimes I actually put one, but I don't let that stop me from supporting the local community.

When you say you have a problem as a taxpayer over government "contracting" for auxillary communications service, what exactly am I getting paid that bothers you so much?  If they doubled my salary hourly, it would still equal volunteer.  How much does that cost in dollars?  My guess is the real cost was to your credibility..

Here's a news flash:
"Nothing is the same as it used to be".  

That is the personification of progress.  If you choose to dwell in the past, don't expect others to punish themselves by following your lead.  

It is that old addage of "lead, follow or get the hell out of the way".. Choose one and get on with your life.

What part of homeland security is the "Business" (as in for profit) part?  I have an interest in your answer.  

If you would take some time to verify your comments, you would probably find that Kachina makes SDR gear; while Akima Facilities Management is the contractor (curently) for the adminstration of Army MARS (among other things).  

Since Ted Stevens was run out of the senate, this is subject to change.  

SHARES recently underwent a change of contractors, and they manage the frontline HF communciations  system for a very large number of govt, security and infrastructure entities.  

If you don't like contracts, that is your personal choice.  However, it has little to do with the reality of the changes the system is undergoing now.

Do I like it?  
Not all of it, but I don't get to drive the train.  I just get to ring the bell from time to time.  

Do I think it is necessary to retain credibility and pertinence in the 21st century?

Do I think anything that is said here is going to change the future?
Not likely.

Reality' what a concept...

KD4NUE - Glynn County ARES EC
AAR4IE - Army MARS Generic and SHARES
AAM4GA - Ga Army MARS Assistant State Director

(all the above in the signature and a buck will get you a cup of coffee, but I do have a dog in the hunt)

Posts: 1728

« Reply #91 on: July 25, 2009, 06:04:02 PM »

Let's just begin with a concern that wholesale use of WinStink is my pet peeve.  Oh, but "we can operate just fine at 100bps."  I hear that all the time.

Sure.  BS, generally.  Will DoD pony up the $1300 each for SCS modems for the "elite?"  Nope.
Why do these state agencies seek huge grants to implement emcomm for amateurs to use?  That's it, basically.  To buy SCS modems.

Reliance on the Inet, as has been already covered in this thread, is a fool's errand.  Very vulnerable.
Study the FCC Katrina Report and you'll see how the IP-dependent Louisiana HP was dead in the water in a good deal of its territory as far as interoperability was concerned.

My taxpayer soapbox was and is a concern that gazilions are wasted on such vulnerable stuff and it ends up being a substitute for well-engineered public safety communications systems.

I purposefully misspelled the Akima Corporation's name.  I used a Hopi Indian word for a trinket.
Obviously, I don't like the idea of government contractors instead of service personnel running things.  Self-perpetuation of profit is most important.

Now, lets talk purpose.  Military Affiliate Radio System.  Just WHAT does that imply?  Its name implies connected to the military.  We all understand the former meaning and purpose: to serve those who serve and their families.  Yes, technology displaced that purpose in large part.

So, if you want to be an "EEI" spy for a lazy bureaucrat at the Pentagon, that's really an important purpose.  To recap the news of local events and send it to Washington on WinStink.

Time, maybe, for a name change.  Defense Third Line Communicators or some such.  After the satellites fail, and the real military can't do the telecomm job, enter the DTLC.

Part of honor is to respect the history and what made a difference.  It is disrespectful, in many corners, to morph organizations with proud histories and their legacy of serving those who serve into a bunch of volunteer ambulance chasers that are third string or maybe lower. Third string if and only if the paid first responders and second responders fail to be able to communicate.

DoD has the National Communication System's SHARES network to perform HF regional and national coordination.  All the while you guys are out there running around trying to "contract" with non-military agencies to justify the continued existence of three organizations. The three of you have to COMPETE for that work to survive.  And, many are bickering back and forth in this thread about just that.

With respect to EEI feeds, DoD should instead fold its interest in domestic media monitoring into a satellite TV subscription and keep the Pentagon bureaucrats busy watching the news first hand.

Now, let me get serious for a moment.  If DoD needs a third level emcomm organization in the event the military comms fail, perhaps SHARES could be expanded with those interested in just that facet.  Shut down the three MARS programs since the only thing affiliated with each service is the name and perhaps a funding pipeline.

Such a consolidation would 1) save a great deal of wasted money, and 2) preserve the history of what the three MARS organizations accomplished with their original basis and purpose.

Yes, you have my permission to "send it up the pipeline" to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Technology and Telecommunications.  That is, if you have the guts......



Posts: 20


« Reply #92 on: July 25, 2009, 06:56:32 PM »

Well, I bought a PTC-IIex out of my retirement income.

When Winmor was announced, I sold it.  If Winmor doesn't pan out, I will buy another.  

It is hard to eat like a hummingbird and deficate like an elephant.

At one time we had around 15 SCS PIII DSP controllers in our realtively small  city,  I have lost count since then.

It is a matter of dedication.  If you don't like Winlink, that is your choice.

Personally, I am proud that there are those who are willing to take the extra step for what they believe in.  

As far as Internet... Motorola Canopy..  National Guard Tropo Scatter... There are some large entities who are seriously negating your appraisial of life nealy a half decade since Katrina.  

A recent exercise with local Air National Guard enlightened me to their ability to restore internet within 4 hours of first notice.  

They deployed to 5 locations in our county, setup their array and imported internet via satellite.  One of the locations was the IT room at the EOC/911 Center.  

This was during HURREX '09.  It is the second time I have been involved as a MARS member with one of their exercises.  We supply them HF, they supply the county with Internet connectivity at up to 5 key locations.  

Incident Notification / EEI Criteria has also changed since your outdated appraisal.  Current policy concerning Incident Notification / EEI reporting negates your argument; although your argument is entertaining in light of current training.  

It is now the Military Auxillary Radio System.  The affiliate part went away with the recent instruction to the directive mentioned at the beginning of this thread.

There is nothing here worth sending anywhere; just sour grapes and outdated arguments.  

Time marches forward.  The little patter of feet you hear is from those who choose to move forward and stay current with what they try to discuss.

If you were unhappy with MARS when you separated from them years ago, it is certainly your right.

However, others deserve to know the current situation, not what it was when you left it.

Posts: 1728

« Reply #93 on: July 25, 2009, 07:51:26 PM »

"As far as Internet... Motorola Canopy.. National Guard Tropo Scatter... There are some large entities who are seriously negating your appraisial of life nealy a half decade since Katrina."

Perhaps you think my comment was focused on an elementary single area failure.  The prospect of cyberterrorism apparently escapes you.  Reliance on the domestic Internet is a serious vulnerability.  Our government has separate and distinct sensitive IP networks, of course, but not something with Tom, Dick and Harry email addresses for the dog catchers and baggage shufflers.

"A recent exercise with local Air National Guard enlightened me to their ability to restore internet within 4 hours of first notice."

Superb.  Well, then, your organizational purpose in that demonstration was what?  To be awestruck?  I think my point earlier about MARS (whatever its latest acronym means) is unrefuted.  If DoD sees fit for a third level, it should be part of SHARES and dispense with the three organizations whose only connection to what they used to serve is their name.

If you don't do anything FOR the people who wear the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps uniforms, you have no business hanging their names on your entities.  Frankly, its somewhat of a mockery.

Call me old school and outdated all you want.  The patter of little feet oft is used to exemplify  lemmings or sheep running aimlessly to and fro.  That, friend, seems to be what to me is happening with MARS.  A hoard of little feet running willy-nilly, hither and yon.  Trying desperately to justify its continued existence.  Especially the branch of MARS heavily staffed by a contractor.

Posts: 497

« Reply #94 on: July 26, 2009, 09:24:07 AM »


I wouldn't waste anymore of my time on W6EM.  If you do a search on his callsign, you'll see his rants go back a couple of years on this subject.  There have been a few of these on Eham, and are usually disgruntled FORMER MARS members who couldn't keep up with the program.  It's called the RTC factor (Resistance TO Change).



Posts: 1728

« Reply #95 on: July 26, 2009, 01:30:25 PM »

Oh, yawn, I suppose I'm resistant to change (RTC) that denigrates a proud heritage of serving those who serve.  Ah, but the DoD Directive I see has it still listed, but as a fifth level purpose.  And, as has been said earlier by others, with no billeted stations or military personnel left to man them, health and welfare traffic is all gone anyway for practical intents and purposes.

And, as I panned back through the pages, I see the Winlink creator making a few comments.  I've often wondered what the motivation to proliferate Winlink hither and yon is.  Especially in that it is distributed to hams free of royalty.  Now, with Sailmail, there are fees involved.  Not with Airmail to hams.  Does the federal government pay usage fees for using Airmail and Winlink on MARS and for messages for baggage handlers?  We know that the throughput of Pactor I through common, garden variety modems is a snail's pace.  Enter SCS and Pactor II/III modems at modest prices starting at only US$1300 each. (Get a loan from your credit union if necessary)

Does SCS, since their modems are a necessary ingredient for high speed Winlink data transfer, offer a commission back to the Winlink creator/author(s) on each one sold?

If Army MARS requires Winlink for membership qualification as someone said earlier, does that mean 100bps Pactor I capability or does it mean more than ten times that, requiring an SCS modem?  If it does, does the US Government procure SCS modems for MARS members or just federal government users?  If so, do those doing the procuring understand the FARs with respect to single-source, foreign suppliers?

You see, folks, I'm really not thrilled about my government (or even Oregon's, when tax revenues are waaaaaay down) procuring expensive, unnecessary gear when PC modes work just fine with interface boxes for amateur communications.  And, the spoken word is still very quick and doesn't require esoteric interfaces when the chips are down.

Now, for those who think I'm just an old fart who's RTC, well you might think again.  I'm against waste, fraud and abuse.  And, I don't care if its the former Vice President's award of the Iraqi Freedom Feed and Fuel contract to his company's engineering subsidiary or purchasing Cadillac German black boxes to play message games with.

Stuff that down your olive drab pipes and smoke it.


Posts: 17

« Reply #96 on: July 27, 2009, 12:37:17 PM »

That there ol' '6EM is patiently waitin' by his tube AM/CW rig for a call from the Byrd North Pole expedition...yep!

Posts: 1728

« Reply #97 on: July 27, 2009, 08:35:06 PM »

The "new" name changes everything.  A few more of you out there might now be RTC after you absorb the following.

For those Constitutional scholars, Posse Comitatus is a federal statute enacted after Civil War reconstruction that prohibits military participation in local and state law enforcement.  That would more likely than before its "new" definition, apply to the Military AUXILIARY Radio System members.  Read and weep.

Army Investigating How and Why Troops Were Sent Into Alabama Town After Murder Spree
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
By Pete Winn, Senior Writer/Editor

U.S. Army soldiers from Ft. Rucker patrol the downtown area of Samson, Alabama after a shooting spree March 10, 2009. (Photo: Reuters/Mark Wallheiser. Used by permission. )
( - The U.S. Army has launched an inquiry into how and why active duty troops from Fort Rucker, Ala., came to be placed on the streets of Samson, Ala., during last week's murder spree in that tiny South Alabama community. The use of the troops was a possible violation of federal law.
“On March 10, after a report of an apparent mass murder in Samson, Ala., 22 military police soldiers from Fort Rucker, Ala., along with the provost marshal, were sent to the city of Samson,” Harvey Perritt, spokesman for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Fort Monroe, Va., told on Monday.
“The purpose for sending the military police, the authority for doing so, and what duties they performed is the subject of an ongoing commander’s inquiry--directed by the commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Gen. Martin Dempsey.”
TRADOC is the headquarters command for Ft. Rucker.
“In addition to determining the facts, this inquiry will also determine whether law, regulation and policy were followed,” Perritt added. “Until those facts are determined, it would be inappropriate to speculate or comment further.”
Jim Stromenger, a dispatcher at the Samson Police Department, confirmed the MP’s presence in the town, telling that the troops “came in to help with traffic control and to secure the crime scene”--and the department was glad for the help.
“We’ve been getting a lot of calls,” Stromenger said. “They weren’t here to police, let me make that clear. They were here to help with traffic and to control the crime scene--so people wouldn’t trample all over (it).”
Stromenger said the town needed help--calls had gone out to all police departments in the area.
“We only have a five-man police department,” he told “We had officers from all surrounding areas helping out. There were a lot of streets to be blocked off and there had to be someone physically there to block them off. That’s what these MPs were doing. I don’t think they were even armed. The troops helped keep nosy people away.”
But Stromenger said it wasn’t the Samson Police Department that called for the troops.
“I don’t know who called Fort Rucker. But someone did. They wouldn’t have been able to come if someone hadn’t,” he added.
Under Whose Authority?
The troops were apparently not deployed by the request of Alabama Gov. Bob Riley -- or by the request of President Obama, as required by law.

When contacted by, the governor’s office could not confirm that the governor had requested help from the Army, and Gov. Riley's spokesman, Todd Stacy, expressed surprise when he was told that troops had been sent to the town.
No request from President Obama, meanwhile, was issued by the White House--or the Defense Department.
Wrongful use of federal troops inside U.S. borders is a violation of several federal laws, including one known as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, Title 18, Section 1385 of the U.S. Code.
“Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both,” the law states.
David Rittgers, legal policy analyst at the Cato Institute, said there are other laws barring use of federal troops outside of federal property, as well.
“Title 18, Section 375 of the U.S. Code is a direct restriction on military personnel, and it basically precludes any member of the army in participating in a ‘search, seizure, arrest or other similar activity, unless participation is otherwise authorized by law,’ “ Rittgers told
“The security of a crime scene is something I think that would roll up in the category of a ‘search, seizure or other activity,’” Rittgers added.
In addition, there is the Insurrection Act of 1808, as amended in 2007, (Title 10, Section 331 of the U.S. Code) under which the president can authorize troops “to restore order and enforce the laws of the United States” in an insurrection.
“Whenever there is an insurrection in any State against its government, the President may, upon the request of its legislature or of its governor if the legislature cannot be convened, call into federal service such of the militia of the other States, in the number requested by that State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to suppress the insurrection,” the law states.
In 2007, Congress expanded the list to include “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition” as situations for which the president can authorize troops, provided that  “domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the state or possession are incapable of maintaining public order.”
Congress has been clear that the use of U.S. troops for civilian police purposes is forbidden.
“One of the statutes explicitly says that military brigs can’t even be used to detain domestic criminals,” Rittgers said. “It really is supposed to be a black and white line.”
The U.S. Department of Justice, meanwhile, would have prosecuting authority, if any violation is deemed to have occurred. The Justice Department did not comment for this story.
Ft. Rucker, located in Southern Alabama, is the home of Army Aviation.

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Posts: 28

« Reply #98 on: July 28, 2009, 08:22:54 AM »

There is an article in this month's CQ magazine staing Navy Mars is all but dead in September.

Posts: 497

« Reply #99 on: July 29, 2009, 09:51:01 AM »

The CQ article is based on old news.  There is a bunch of info in this thread about what's happening.  A couple of positions are being cut in FY2010, but nothing else will change for now.

Posts: 4

« Reply #100 on: August 10, 2009, 07:58:45 PM »

What a distressing thread for a newbie (as of today!) MARS member... on many levels.

I certainly hope that the attitudes and behaviors expressed by the few who have posted here are not shared or representative of MARS overall.

After reading all posts so far I come away with the impression that Navy MARS is still the place for me as long as it is operating, but that doing the Army MARS training and qualification as well might be a good idea. In fact I will check and see if membership in multiple MARS is allowed and if so join Army MARS as well.

My loyalty and dedication is emergency communications in support of disaster victims, and I don't much care what organization makes that happen.

73 de W4AGA / NNN0BFGT
ARES AEC & OES Jefferson County AL

Posts: 497

« Reply #101 on: August 12, 2009, 09:35:20 AM »

You can only belong to one MARS branch.

Good luck with Navy MARS.  As a former NAVMARCORMARS member, I really hope it survives.



Posts: 42


« Reply #102 on: August 13, 2009, 08:21:27 PM »

Fellow MARS Members,

As the State Director of the Alaska Army MARS program, I am concerned about losing the Navy/Marine MARS Program as well.  The Navy/Marine MARS program in Alaska provides coverage to parts of this large state that the Army program simply can't.  Over the years the Army MARS program did have operators in about every corner of the state.  But like everywhere else time and changing attitudes have left their mark.  I can say that in every Navy/Marine Net I have participated in was well run and professional.
Between the Navy/Marine Program and the Army Program in AK we could pretty well support comms over the entire state.
I sincerely hope the Navy/Marine Program survives and I have seen some postings that suggest that could very well be the case. I have read where the plan is should funding be the killer then possibly the re-organization of the Navy/Marine program would keep it alive.  I cannot off the cuff remember the specifics of that traffic but it seems they were talking about reduction of the management side by having less regional direction and more state level.
Yes the Army Program has gone into high gear for emcomm support of TSA and other federal and state agencies.  The Army Program came within days of being suspended itself not all that long ago.  The Army Program changed it focus from strictly military support to a broader spectrum.  Now we work with Civil Authorities and various federal agencies.  We reinvented ourselves to remain functional and effective.
While the Army and the Air Force have affirmed their financial support to MARS, that funding is no where near what it was even in the late 80's.  Main expense involved to the active duty side is maintaining a working MARS station on Post.  That includes the expense of Radio's, SCS TNCs and broad band antenna's like those Log Periodic antennas.  The average MARS Member is given nothing financial for the time and dedication to his preferred program.  So it's not the volunteers that are going unfunded. We bought and maintain our stations out of our own pocket.  So before someone starts with the "waste of taxpayer's money" routine.  There are no tax dollars involved below the Head Quarters function that I am aware of.
Regional Directors, State Directors and Officers all volunteer their time to the programs.
If the Navy/Marine Program has become out of touch, it is due to a failure to grow beyond it's strictly military roots.  Having said that, its not the volunteers that have resisted that change.  That fault lies with the Navy/Marine brass who have failed to see and appreciate what is going to happen when the hi-tech gear fails.  The military is no different than the civil managers, out of sight out of mind.  That satcom system works great why do we need HF or we have the internet why play with radios?  Same thought process that many of the younger than 40 crowd have.
Yes the Army MARS program is expanding and the training is getting tougher.  But that increased skill set that is being developed will pay dividends down the road.  Can the Navy/Marine program catch up?  Sure it can.  There is some truth to the "old members" comments, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  But only when those old dogs do not want to learn not because they can't.
Like all Amateur Radio Operations the medium aged is creeping upward and a lack of young Hams is being  felt.  But I know of several senior MARS Members who are still active and learning "new tricks".

To my Navy/Marine Brother's in Arms, I salute you.  I hope the Navy/Marine Program survives and thrives.
Should it not, do not think your skills are not needed anymore.  Now more than ever your needed by both the Army and the Air Force programs.  Your experience is invaluable.

There that's how I see it, like it or don't.

Ron Keech, ALM7AK
SMD Alaska Army MARS

Posts: 1728

« Reply #103 on: August 13, 2009, 10:10:20 PM »

"There is some truth to the "old members" comments, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But only when those old dogs do not want to learn not because they can't."

As 'this ole' dog' has said, MARS was originally conceived to be a service organization for civilians, primarily, to assist those in the services.

Now, especially the Army program, has become a 'communications service in search of customers.'

Most of those sought are in local and state government.  Baggage checkers at airports are an exception.

With the morph to an 'army auxiliary' service openly solicitous of involvement in local and state law enforcement activities, you have crossed a line.  Frankly, in my opinion, you're probably violating an old federal statute that prohibits doing just that.  As hams affiliated with RACES or ARES, you can chase ambulances.  No problem doing that.  As an army, air force or navy/marine corps auxiliary doing the same thing, big problem.

I always thought the navy had the best leadership.  Maybe they recognize that their branch no longer has need for HF health and welfare message traffic support and want no part in the breach of Posse Comitatus that the army program leadership has in mind.

Posts: 17

« Reply #104 on: August 16, 2009, 08:57:15 AM »


Good post.  Disregard W6EM's rants.  He's all over Eham like a rash.  Evidently a very unhappy, bitter man.

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