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Author Topic: Merging of the Services  (Read 1553 times)
KL7YK
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Posts: 42


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« on: January 11, 2008, 12:10:49 PM »

I would like to express my opinion on the changes that have been coming out in recent months.
I say it's high time!
In some areas there are simply are not enough operators to cover the need when it comes up.  This merging of operations between the services makes perfect sense.  In the states where there are few operators for a particular service there are gaps in operational coverage.  However, when mixed with another one or two of the services you have coverage again.  I will use Alaska as an example since that's where I live and operate.  The Alaska Army MARS Program is small compared to the size of the state, not nearly enough coverage to really do the job right.  The Alaska Navy/Marine MARS Program by itself here also suffers from a shortage of operators.  There is no AF MARS in Alaska that I can find.  
By combing the assets of the Army and Navy/Marine MARS Programs and we have much better coverage for operations.  No we are not 100% combined...yet.
But in Alaska anyway we work as one team.  Since the rules of operations are being consolidated between the services it makes sense that we work together.
There will be a few who will hate the idea of a Joint MARS Operation. They are stuck in the 1960's when there were MARS Operators all over the place.
Welcome to the way things are, we have a shortage of operators and have had for quite some time now.  
Recruitment for MARS is suffering the same issues Amatuer Radio is suffering.  Attracting new operators is tough, the public still see's us as only MARS Grams.  Or worse has forgotten about us altogether.

We are part of a bigger picture now, since 9/11 we have been included in Federal Response processes.  Even now some Federal Managers are of the mindset of "why HF?", they have the internet after all.  We know the answer to that don't we.  As MARS Operators and Hams we have seen the loss of communications from a disaster and how long it took those normal channels to be restored.  Between natural disasters and other threats you would think those narrow minded folks would have learned.  Time will tell.
Combining MARS? Yes!  Alone each service has gaps, together we are a effective tool for those who will call on our help.

MARS Dead?  Not in Alaska it's not, nor it is anywhere else I know of.  Reduced coverage maybe, that is being fixed as I type.  This is not your Dad's MARS Program, this is the natural evolution of the support process.

Be Proud, Professional and Ready!

Ron Keech, ALM7AK
SD Alaska Army MARS
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W3LK
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Posts: 5644




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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2008, 06:13:31 PM »

While I don't disagree with much of what you are saying, I DO disagree with the following statement:

<< Recruitment for MARS is suffering the same issues Amatuer Radio is suffering. >>

I am not sure what "issues" amateur radio, as a whole, is supposed to be "suffering". The ham/ general population ratio is essentially the same as it has been for the last 20 years. ON air activity has not decreased. Overall licensee numbers are pretty stable.

MARS membership is another story. MARS membership requires a time commitment that amateur radio in general does not require. MARS requires actual training and participation; amateur radio does not. MARS requires disciplined operating practices; amateur radio SHOULD, but generally doesn't.

MARS requires a commitment that is difficult for younger hams with families to make. No such commitment is required for general amateur radio operating. MARS will never be a significant percentage of the general ham population. Often, time for significant MARS operations only comes after all the children are gone from home and/or the amateur operator retires. This is why the age of the average MARS member is in the mid-60's, and has been that way for many years.

Lon - NNN0OOR (Former MDE SMD, Deputy SMD, Assistant For Net Operations)
Southern New England Navy-Marine Corps MARS
Proudly Serving Those Who Serve
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N9KWW
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2008, 09:42:12 AM »

I do not dissagree with your points we do need to combine, have been saying that for the past 15 years!! But we need to keep the nets going in a displined maNNER, Some of the changes do not reflect that. It will be a matter of time before we are all in the same fold. Then we can get the job done in an efficient manner.
   MARS age is still way to high, we need to get alot of new young blood into our service fast or we will die. Time is an issue but the biggest problem is we arenot out there telling the story. I would venture a guess and say that better than 70% of the news hams have even heard of MARS much less know what it is. We have to remember that most of the youg do not under stand waht MARS grams were, they all know E-mail but not telegrams ( that is some thing they did back in rome!!)
   If we get get the young in we viable service for years to come. Also we need to remind our selves we are not thAT young to go to an emergency site and operate in the bow scout style long, most of use need those meds and ward balanket to keep going...
  I am not saying we are all cripple and decreptid or anything but we are not that young any more..
Ron
NNN0VAG
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ND4MR
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2008, 03:14:25 PM »

At the Richmond (VA) Hamfest I asked the boothpersons at the MARS booth about persistent rumors that the 3 different services were going to be merged into ONE altogether MARS program. They replied that a decision had already been made "in the Pentagon" to merge the 3 MARS services into one. Is this official? I ask because, if this decision has, in fact, been made, you'd think that something would be published about it in the various ham publications. So HAS a decision been made, or is this just another retelling of the same old rumor?
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W3LK
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Posts: 5644




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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2008, 05:03:10 PM »

I think the person was smoking something.

There has been NOTHING promulgated within Navy-Marine Corps MARS stating that the three service are being merged. I am active on the Northeast Area Army MARS net, on an almost daily basis, as well and I have not heard a single thing mentioned.

What HAS happened is the adoption of a common Voice Standard Operating Procedure for all three services and the instigation of some common nets. That's all!

Whoever told you this simply doesn't know what they were talking about.

Lon - NNN0OOR (Former MDE SMD, Deputy SMD, Assistant For Net Operations)
Southern New England Navy-Marine Corps MARS
Proudly Serving Those Who Serve
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N9KWW
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2008, 07:03:53 PM »


“There has been NOTHING promulgated within Navy-Marine Corps MARS stating that the three service are being merged. I am active on the Northeast Area Army MARS net, on an almost daily basis, as well and I have not heard a single thing mentioned.

What HAS happened is the adoption of a common Voice Standard Operating Procedure for all three services and the instigation of some common nets. That's all!””

   Lon what is your opinion about the convergence of the three MARS services? It does seem like that is where we are headed, it may not happen today, but it seems like we are heading toward a single MARS. I am unsure if this would be a good thing or not, united we stand a better chance for funding, and divided we serve the different agencies better.
   I just wonder where we are going, seems like we get started and just fall back into limbo, just to get kick started again, Yes we are part of SHARES and HD, but we are always just on the outside, we play but never train with them..
Just a thought?

Ron
NNN0VAG
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W3LK
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Posts: 5644




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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2008, 06:15:01 AM »

Asking my opinion is a dangerous thing. Smiley

I am personally unaware of any substantive discussion about merging the services. All this "merge rumor" stuff seems to be coming from within the organization and not without, ie DoD or Congress.

Despite the similarities, the three services are often different in the way they are run and how they interact with their parent service. While I have no experience with Air Force MARS, I am a regular on the Northeast Area ARMY MARS net and the differences in how they run their nets, even with the new SOP, from Navy MARS is very noticeable to me. They are a great and friendly group, they just do things differently. They seem to be having a more difficult time adjusting to the New SOP because it is VERY different from what they are used to, while it is little different from the way we have been operating all along.

Another thing is that interoperatibility is the key word now. When I came into MARS ten years ago,you simply did NOT check into nets other than your own state nets unless you had specific traffic to pass to another state, and then there were stations specifically designated to take that traffic. That's the now-unused FIFTEEN position. Even after that requirement was dropped, you couldn't check into another state's nets unless use of their frequency was also authorized in YOUR state. NNN0ASA's work to get frequencies authorized CONUS-wide has changed that and now you can check into any net that can hear you. Smiley

On a daily basis, I check into two nets here in Southern New England, one in Northern New England, two in Northern New York and the aforementioned Army MARS net. I have even checked into Texas and some Mid-West nets when propagation was good. I also occasionally check into my old MDE nets in the evenings. I would probably check into more, but I haven't taken the time to check times and frequencies. Even old retired people have time constraints. <g>

Again, I don't see the move to a merge, but rather an effort to have common terms and procedures to facilitate working together, when necessary.

I hope this hasn't been too rambling.

Lon - NNN0OOR (Former MDE SMD, Deputy SMD, Assistant For Net Operations)
Southern New England Navy-Marine Corps MARS
Proudly Serving Those Who Serve
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N6JSX
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Posts: 216




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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2008, 08:43:32 AM »

If the new MARS mission is to support Home Land Security/EMA (lesser extent DoD) - why have separate services? Only "State" National Guard military units can be armed within the USA during declared emergencies. Is MARS active with "State" level National Guards?  Are "State" emergency National Guard activations under DoD control or State Governor? Where does MARS fit in?    

Would consolidation to improve organizational efficiency kill to many management (military and HAM leadership) positions? I ask this, as I've seen way to many EGO driven HAMs get leadership positions via politics, then killing their part of an organization due to self-serving ambitions using uninspired leadership skills and sabotage memberships that question their skills/decisions/methods; e.g. SkyWarn, EMA, LA DCS, ARES, ARRL, TORA, DARA, etc.  Does MARS have the same inner HAM leadership politics? I'm confident the political answer is NO, but what is reality?

N6JSX /8, MS-EET
USN-FTGC 10yr Vietnam Vet
x-ARRL LA OO Coordinator
x-ARRL WI OO Coordinator
x-ARES/EMA officer
to name a very few
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