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Author Topic: Navy marine Corp Mars ends September 30 2015  (Read 9757 times)
N9VMO
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #75 on: May 27, 2015, 06:02:56 PM »

Quote
With all of the National Guard units and with budget sequestration and severe constraints, it would seem the highest priority from DoD would be finding ways to make do with auxiliary members as instructors if at all possible.  And, above all, fire all contractors supporting MARS.

I couldn't agree with this statement more.  Get rid of the leeching contractors who in most cases have no knowledge or experience of military operations or their way of life, and put in auxiliary members, most of whom have at least some military experience. 

Sorry if this honks some folks off, but this would save the DoD a ton of money that they could use for some other program.

Joe
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KO4MI
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Posts: 27




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« Reply #76 on: May 28, 2015, 04:22:50 AM »

I understand that MARS volunteers, especially NMC MARS, have a lot invested both emotionally and financially in the current system.

When I was first licensed in the 70s the function of MARS was principally support to H&W communication between soldiers, sailors, and airmen in the field and those at home. Things have moved around a good bit since then.

For quite some time we dropped phone booths hooked to phone switches and satellite systems for calls home. Now we drop portable cell sites.

In my personal opinion MARS finds itself in the position of providing support, using tax dollars, outside the mission area of DoD, including morale support to troops. There is value in my mind to wrapping up the whole kit and caboodle and dropping it into FEMA who own the mission of domestic emergency services.

There may well be other, better solutions. In my mind the Department of the Navy is demonstrating good stewardship of taxpayer resources. While I regret the turmoil the decision has caused to my ham colleagues I think the decision to close down NMC MARS was well taken.
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N4JQQ
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Posts: 9




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« Reply #77 on: May 28, 2015, 03:27:21 PM »

You can accuse the Navy of anything you want but being good stewards of taxpayer money isn't one of them.  $561 billion for 57 F-35s, helmets for the pilots cost $400,000 EACH!  Just think, if they got rid of just one of those helmets the Navy could fund MARS at the current cost until we are all dead.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Smiley))))))  And the damn thing only has ONE engine.  Ask any of your fighter pilot friends what they think of that.

Steve
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W6EM
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Posts: 1017




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« Reply #78 on: May 28, 2015, 06:18:35 PM »

You can accuse the Navy of anything you want but being good stewards of taxpayer money isn't one of them.  $561 billion for 57 F-35s, helmets for the pilots cost $400,000 EACH!  Just think, if they got rid of just one of those helmets the Navy could fund MARS at the current cost until we are all dead.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Smiley))))))  And the damn thing only has ONE engine.  Ask any of your fighter pilot friends what they think of that.

Steve
The sad part of it is that they've been doing it for years.  The toilet seat covers for the P-3 in the mid-80's were about $640 in 1980 dollars.  Considering inflation, the cost in today's dollars would be 3.57 times that figure.  Or, about $2285 each.  But, after public revelation, Lockheed reduced the price to $100 each or a mere $357 in 2015 dollars.  The Lockheed Electra, the commercial version of the P-3, no doubt had a less expensive toilet seat cover.  Then, there were the "golden" hammers.  Several hundred each and Al Gore even created a government award in their honor.

At least helmets, these  days have some decent suspension and impact requirements to keep the pilot crania intact.  Can't say that for a toilet seat cover, though.
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NT0A
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Posts: 107




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« Reply #79 on: May 29, 2015, 09:13:56 AM »

You can accuse the Navy of anything you want but being good stewards of taxpayer money isn't one of them.  $561 billion for 57 F-35s, helmets for the pilots cost $400,000 EACH!  Just think, if they got rid of just one of those helmets the Navy could fund MARS at the current cost until we are all dead.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Smiley))))))  And the damn thing only has ONE engine.  Ask any of your fighter pilot friends what they think of that.

Well, I flew single seat, single engine jets on and off aircraft carriers over a span of more than 14 years, and there is nothing wrong with one engine. In all those years, including a couple flying combat missions in Vietnam, I can only recall the loss of one aircraft due to engine failure, and that was due to the failure of the accessory gearbox which caused the engine fuel pump to fail. That aircraft had been taken out of the boneyard in the desert when we were forced to retrograde from A-4E aircraft to the A-4B because of the combat losses in Vietnam.

To fault Uncle Sam's Canoe Club over the cost overruns associated with the F-35 or the $400,000 helmet as the raison d'être for the demise of Navy-Marine Corps MARS shows perhaps a lack of understanding of the the nature of the congressional budgeting process as it applies to the military as well as the RDT&E (Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation) cycle, especially the inescapable and exponential cost per unit curve. By its very nature, the military is one of the most inefficient operations on the face of the earth, particulary when viewed from an economic perspective.

Let me ask you to consider how much a 65-inch 4K television would cost if there was only one firm that manufactured the product and only 300 were produced? The answer to that should explain why the pilot's hard hat will cost almost a half million dollars and the aircraft are as expensive as they are. It all goes back to the economic basics of supply vs. demand. If you want to see some really expensive aircraft, go back and review the development costs of the 32-plane SR-71 fleet in terms of 1960 dollars, and offset those costs with the role the intelligence provided by that aircraft, intelligence that ultimately played a significant role in the end of the Cold War. Both the SR-71 and the F-35 are cutting edge aircraft, the development of which is exceedingly, almost obscenely expensive.

Navy-Marine Corps MARS will become history because it lost its funding. Without a seat at the decision makers' conference table, it is impossible to say with any accuracy why the funding was lost, but it is reasonable to assume that as an entity, NAVMARCORMARS failed to justify its existance in the budgetary process.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2015, 10:24:48 AM by NT0A » Logged
W6EM
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Posts: 1017




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« Reply #80 on: May 29, 2015, 10:04:03 AM »

The price we paid for the SR-71 was the right price.  An AF officer told a group tour that I was on in 1969 that the aircraft on the apron at Edwards AFB could fly to New York City in about an hour.  Wooed the bus of engineering seniors on the tour.

Perhaps to get back on "the bus" as it were, the Navy's decision should have been checked for impact on other MARS programs and other federal entities served by the program.  Franky, Pentagon staff should have examined the proposed termination and consolidated all MARS programs instead of allowing just NMC to drop out.

Sure, what's the cost of the NMC program to the Navy and Marine Corps? One FTE contractor (MARS Director)?  Army's probably got a dozen contractors or more.  Not a level playing field.  Not at all.
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N4JQQ
Member

Posts: 9




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« Reply #81 on: May 29, 2015, 06:29:47 PM »

I agree with you regarding funding.  Regarding a single engine, I wasn't speaking of engine failure.  I was talking about the masses of shoulder fired missiles that didn't exist during the VN war.  The AV-8B, single engine, lost more aircraft in the Gulf War than any other type.  Ask a Harrier pilot about that. 

You can accuse the Navy of anything you want but being good stewards of taxpayer money isn't one of them.  $561 billion for 57 F-35s, helmets for the pilots cost $400,000 EACH!  Just think, if they got rid of just one of those helmets the Navy could fund MARS at the current cost until we are all dead.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Smiley))))))  And the damn thing only has ONE engine.  Ask any of your fighter pilot friends what they think of that.

Well, I flew single seat, single engine jets on and off aircraft carriers over a span of more than 14 years, and there is nothing wrong with one engine. In all those years, including a couple flying combat missions in Vietnam, I can only recall the loss of one aircraft due to engine failure, and that was due to the failure of the accessory gearbox which caused the engine fuel pump to fail. That aircraft had been taken out of the boneyard in the desert when we were forced to retrograde from A-4E aircraft to the A-4B because of the combat losses in Vietnam.

To fault Uncle Sam's Canoe Club over the cost overruns associated with the F-35 or the $400,000 helmet as the raison d'être for the demise of Navy-Marine Corps MARS shows perhaps a lack of understanding of the the nature of the congressional budgeting process as it applies to the military as well as the RDT&E (Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation) cycle, especially the inescapable and exponential cost per unit curve. By its very nature, the military is one of the most inefficient operations on the face of the earth, particulary when viewed from an economic perspective.

Let me ask you to consider how much a 65-inch 4K television would cost if there was only one firm that manufactured the product and only 300 were produced? The answer to that should explain why the pilot's hard hat will cost almost a half million dollars and the aircraft are as expensive as they are. It all goes back to the economic basics of supply vs. demand. If you want to see some really expensive aircraft, go back and review the development costs of the 32-plane SR-71 fleet in terms of 1960 dollars, and offset those costs with the role the intelligence provided by that aircraft, intelligence that ultimately played a significant role in the end of the Cold War. Both the SR-71 and the F-35 are cutting edge aircraft, the development of which is exceedingly, almost obscenely expensive.

Navy-Marine Corps MARS will become history because it lost its funding. Without a seat at the decision makers' conference table, it is impossible to say with any accuracy why the funding was lost, but it is reasonable to assume that as an entity, NAVMARCORMARS failed to justify its existance in the budgetary process.
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NT0A
Member

Posts: 107




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« Reply #82 on: May 30, 2015, 06:54:09 AM »

I agree with you regarding funding.  Regarding a single engine, I wasn't speaking of engine failure.  I was talking about the masses of shoulder fired missiles that didn't exist during the VN war.  The AV-8B, single engine, lost more aircraft in the Gulf War than any other type.  Ask a Harrier pilot about that. 

Comparing the Harrier and the F-35 is akin to comparing Turing's ENIAC to today's super computer. they aren't in the same league in performance or survivability in the combat environment. Stelth technology such as possessed by the F-35 and the F-22 aircraft is not limited to reducing radar cross section. It also includes a significantly reduced heat signature. Comparing the Harrier and the Lightning II because of a VTOL capability makes a much sense as comparing a carrot to a banana because they are both much longer than they are wide and a cross section yields something like an extruded circle.
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N3ZH
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Posts: 33




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« Reply #83 on: May 30, 2015, 07:28:37 AM »

Back on the topic,

I might be wrong, but I think the cost of Navy Marine Corp Mars was one full time paid person and use of frequencies.

The signal I get is: The military sees no use for Mars.  Even if it was completely free, and even in some future possible disaster. Military communications equipment and personnel are more than adequate. The existence of Mars is an inconvenience.

Army Mars has been trying to reinvent itself to be more relevant and useful to the military, but it is dying due to membership dropouts.

I am starting to feel that local governments  might be the only ones who appreciate and desire volunteer amateur radio licensees. And this might be more for the volunteer manpower and womenpower than for the radio equipment. So perhaps Ares/Races is the best alternative?



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NT0A
Member

Posts: 107




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« Reply #84 on: May 30, 2015, 08:02:27 AM »

Back on the topic,

I might be wrong, but I think the cost of Navy Marine Corp Mars was one full time paid person and use of frequencies.

The signal I get is: The military sees no use for Mars.  Even if it was completely free, and even in some future possible disaster. Military communications equipment and personnel are more than adequate. The existence of Mars is an inconvenience.

Army Mars has been trying to reinvent itself to be more relevant and useful to the military, but it is dying due to membership dropouts.

I am starting to feel that local governments  might be the only ones who appreciate and desire volunteer amateur radio licensees. And this might be more for the volunteer manpower and womenpower than for the radio equipment. So perhaps Ares/Races is the best alternative?

I can understand how you might come to those conclusions, but you are missing some critical information. MARS is neither dead nor dying, and as valuable and necessary as ARES is, it is not the best alternative. Simply put, the mission of ARES and MARS are radically different, but they are not incompatible.

The entire tri-service MARS community drifted when cell phones and email became ubiquitous and eventually settled into to a support role in emergency communications. Subsequently, MARS has been tasked with a DOD mission critical role that is new for MARS. Reorganizing to fulfill the new mission resulted in a significant number of members of Army MARS hanging up their keys. Army MARS today is tighter and more capable than in the past. Air Force MARS is reorganizing in a slightly different manner to both meet the new mission and retain its membership.

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W6EM
Member

Posts: 1017




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« Reply #85 on: May 31, 2015, 12:55:53 PM »

Back on the topic,

I might be wrong, but I think the cost of Navy Marine Corp Mars was one full time paid person and use of frequencies.

The signal I get is: The military sees no use for Mars.  Even if it was completely free, and even in some future possible disaster. Military communications equipment and personnel are more than adequate. The existence of Mars is an inconvenience.

Army Mars has been trying to reinvent itself to be more relevant and useful to the military, but it is dying due to membership dropouts.

I am starting to feel that local governments  might be the only ones who appreciate and desire volunteer amateur radio licensees. And this might be more for the volunteer manpower and womenpower than for the radio equipment. So perhaps Ares/Races is the best alternative?

I can understand how you might come to those conclusions, but you are missing some critical information. MARS is neither dead nor dying, and as valuable and necessary as ARES is, it is not the best alternative. Simply put, the mission of ARES and MARS are radically different, but they are not incompatible.

The entire tri-service MARS community drifted when cell phones and email became ubiquitous and eventually settled into to a support role in emergency communications. Subsequently, MARS has been tasked with a DOD mission critical role that is new for MARS. Reorganizing to fulfill the new mission resulted in a significant number of members of Army MARS hanging up their keys. Army MARS today is tighter and more capable than in the past. Air Force MARS is reorganizing in a slightly different manner to both meet the new mission and retain its membership.


The evolution of MARS into a DoD information tool or conduit as opposed to service to those who serve is an interesting study.

As a former Army MARS member, I took and still take exception to the dissolution of the original mission.  And now, apparently, even the name Military Auxiliary Radio System is no longer a good descriptor of what it is becoming.  For sure, the need for any branch identity is just about history.

Out of respect for those who have invested many years in the NMC MARS program, DoD should now fold all of the branches (or at least blend them) into a new organization without individual service identity.  At least that way, all that want to will be part of something new.  A new purpose deserves a new name.  And, the old branches of MARS can all be remembered as they were and respected equally for what they did for those in service to our nation.

The history of what MARS did for many years is important and should not be unrecognized.  Better for it to be sunsetted and remembered as a museum piece instead of being morphed into something totally different and its past forgotten.

 
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NT0A
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Posts: 107




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« Reply #86 on: May 31, 2015, 01:25:55 PM »

Out of respect for those who have invested many years in the NMC MARS program, DoD should now fold all of the branches (or at least blend them) into a new organization without individual service identity.  At least that way, all that want to will be part of something new.  A new purpose deserves a new name.  And, the old branches of MARS can all be remembered as they were and respected equally for what they did for those in service to our nation.

That may well come to pass. Frankly it makes sense, but it would probably be a communications auxiliary of JCS rather than DOD.

Quote
The history of what MARS did for many years is important and should not be unrecognized.  Better for it to be sunsetted and remembered as a museum piece instead of being morphed into something totally different and its past forgotten.

Agreed.
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W6EM
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Posts: 1017




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« Reply #87 on: May 31, 2015, 03:28:05 PM »

The following was my attempt to inform DoD at an elevated level of what I believe the impact of the termination of NMC-MARS will have on members and what is left of the program.

Hopefully it will have some desireable results.

73 to all,

Lee



W. Lee McVey, P.E. Ret.
3 Squires Glenn Lane
Leeds, AL  35094-4564
XXX-XXX-XXXX
May 15, 2015


The Honorable Robert O. Work
Deputy Secretary of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400


Subject:  Termination of Navy-Marine Corps Military Auxiliary Radio Service (NMC-MARS)


Dear Secretary Work:

I learned just yesterday of the 30 September 2015 planned termination of the NMC-MARS program.  Throughout my more than 53 years of being an amateur radio operator, I have been an observer and participant in two of the three current MARS programs:  Air Force and Army MARS.  Although through the years the mission of MARS has changed somewhat, it is largely a volunteer organization.  As I’m sure you know, morale is the fuel to operate volunteer organizations.  It is what encourages folks to want to belong, to contribute, and serve.  Up until now, a major part of that morale fuel was the linkage to the identity of each military branch of MARS and to those who serve or have served.

As of late the missions have changed for the tri-service programs from service to those who serve in the military to more one of service to federal, state and local government agencies in the form of a second level of communications, should primary means fail.  In that role, the identity of each of the MARS programs has become blurred.  And, the real need for individual branch identity has diminished a great deal.  And, it has encouraged internal MARS program competition, which is never a good thing for an organization.

There are many fine, dedicated individuals in the NMC-MARS program that have been told that they should re-apply to one of the two remaining programs.  I suspect you might know what that has done or will do to the morale of those who have spent many years in the NMC-MARS program.  To add to the discouragement, an unnamed MARS spokesperson has bragged via a media announcement  that the Strategic Command has chosen Army MARS as its official supplemental communications pathway.  The individual went on to say that Air Force MARS has begun efforts to align itself more directly with Army MARS.(footnoted)  This, in spite of the fact that Air Force MARS has a vital radio link with operational aircraft, many of which are Strat Com assets.(footnoted)

Secretary Work, I think that there is a pathway that could be taken by the Department of Defense that would help preserve the proud legacy of NMC-MARS and the morale of those who have served.  That is to say, end all of the individual service component programs and combine them all into one Department of Defense MARS program.  One preferably based at a location demonstrating tri-service commitment, such as at the Pentagon.

Over the years, there has not been what I would call a balanced commitment of resources to each of the MARS programs.  By that I mean that each service has budgeted differing levels of support to their MARS programs.  While I do not have data to back up this assertion, it is all too apparent.  I have observed what appears to be a much higher staffing level of Army MARS at its Fort Huachuca, AZ headquarters than the other service programs at their respective headquarters.  Army’s paid staffing over the years has included several Akima Corporation contract personnel that have been involved in its day to day operations.  I have also observed much of what I would call sales activity by virtue of public media releases from the Army program offering communications services to outside entities.  MARS is supposed to be almost entirely a volunteer program.  As such, it is unfair to allow one branch to use paid staff while the others have to rely almost solely on volunteers to operate.

In its service role to those who serve, NMC-MARS has had many fine accomplishments.  None of those were mentioned in the official public announcement of its termination.  From my recollections, thousands upon thousands of messages and telephone patches via radio from ships at sea and shore installations during the Vietnam War and later.  Also, more recently, NMC-MARS played a key role in the Haitian earthquake disaster recovery.  It would be a shame to close the program without at least acknowledging its proud past of serving Sailors and Marines and those in need worldwide.

I would hope that you will consider what I have suggested as I believe that in doing an overall consolidation, you will keep the majority of  program participants aboard.  If ‘the die is cast’ into what is left becoming a clone of the Army program, as it were, you will likely lose most of what is left of MARS volunteer members across the entire program.

Respectfully,



W. Lee McVey, P.E. Ret.

Amateur Radio Extra Class Licensee W6EM
Life Senior Member, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
Member, Radio Club of America

« Last Edit: May 31, 2015, 03:30:57 PM by W6EM » Logged
W1MSG
Member

Posts: 134


WWW

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« Reply #88 on: May 31, 2015, 05:31:50 PM »

This is exactly why the program will probably be gone with in the next 2 years.

"As of late the missions have changed for the tri-service programs from service to those who serve in the military to more one of service to federal, state and local government agencies in the form of a second level of communications, should primary means fail."

Because of the boring nature of current day MARS, people have been offering services out side of its Military Affiliation. Then everyone says it doesn't cost anything when in fact it really does, there is always a Military person somewhere that has to manage it at some level.

The entire infrastructure should be combined and rolled over into FEMA. Makes more sense and has a real world real time mission.
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