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Author Topic: Slow lingering death of MARS.  (Read 885542 times)
KC2QYM
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« Reply #150 on: December 28, 2017, 08:03:14 AM »

A number of you are recounting glorious experiences in MARS and many of these tales are way in the past. But the fundamental theme of this thread is the slow lingering death of MARS.  I know that MARS today is nothing compared to what it was but is it dead or just represented by a smaller group of active members and a much narrower mission? From what friends have told me, there was once a golden age of MARS where members received military radios to use as active net members and that there were meetings, and outings, and training exercises, etc.  Does that still exist on a national level or is it an occasional activity in only one or two areas of the country?  If MARS has declined to some marginal level there must be a reason for it.  Perhaps the NETs are boring, perhaps the budgets have been cut to a point so as not to offer any real incentive to participate; no training, no field exercises, etc. If that's the case and the trend continues, then it is dying with no chance for recovery.  MARS is a national organization right?  If only one or two districts are active and the rest are not then I would say it's dead.  Just holding a weekly net with three or so operators does not represent a vibrant organization.
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #151 on: December 28, 2017, 10:51:41 AM »

A number of you are recounting glorious experiences in MARS and many of these tales are way in the past. But the fundamental theme of this thread is the slow lingering death of MARS.  I know that MARS today is nothing compared to what it was but is it dead or just represented by a smaller group of active members and a much narrower mission? From what friends have told me, there was once a golden age of MARS where members received military radios to use as active net members and that there were meetings, and outings, and training exercises, etc.  Does that still exist on a national level or is it an occasional activity in only one or two areas of the country?  If MARS has declined to some marginal level there must be a reason for it.  Perhaps the NETs are boring, perhaps the budgets have been cut to a point so as not to offer any real incentive to participate; no training, no field exercises, etc. If that's the case and the trend continues, then it is dying with no chance for recovery.  MARS is a national organization right?  If only one or two districts are active and the rest are not then I would say it's dead.  Just holding a weekly net with three or so operators does not represent a vibrant organization.

You hit the nail squarely on the head.
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N9AOP
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« Reply #152 on: December 29, 2017, 02:06:21 PM »

Region 5 army MARS is very active with 2 nets per day every day.  Other regions have similar activity along with 4 major exercises per year.
Art
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N8AUC
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Posts: 329




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« Reply #153 on: December 29, 2017, 07:05:52 PM »

A friend of mine just got involved with Army MARS.
From what he tells me, it's not dead or dying at all.
The way they do things now may not be everyone's cup of tea,
but the fact is, he's really enjoying it.

MARS may not be what it was 30 or 40 years ago,
but I don't think it's dying as many people think.

73 de N8AUC
Eric
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KD2DNZ
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« Reply #154 on: December 30, 2017, 05:09:56 AM »

From what I see Army MARS is very active, while AF MARS seems to be near death.
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N9VMO
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« Reply #155 on: December 30, 2017, 05:20:43 PM »

From what I see Army MARS is very active, while AF MARS seems to be near death.

It might be dying in other areas of the U.S., but here in Region 5 we are very active.
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W2KB
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« Reply #156 on: January 08, 2018, 01:53:41 PM »

Likewise the combined AF MARS Regions 1, 2 and 3 daily morning and evening nets typically have at least 30 to 40 members check in.  Most members also have digital encrypted data transmission/reception capability as well.  As to the website, the Headquarters website is indeed kept up to date and can be accessed here:  http://www.mars.af.mil/
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WA5CVI
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« Reply #157 on: March 16, 2018, 09:25:33 AM »

There are no real benefits to being in MARS...equipment, mostly junk when they had the program, and parts banks all dried up. Absolutely no reason to join...waste of time...
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N9AOP
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« Reply #158 on: March 16, 2018, 09:42:45 AM »

Today is different from years past.  As the previous poster alluded to, If there are no valuable free handouts or a good paycheck, joining anything is worthless in his opinion. This is the mantra of the millennial generation. 
Art
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KB6E
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« Reply #159 on: March 22, 2018, 09:21:37 PM »

Since I'm interested in Mars, I read every single posting in this long thread.

I think it can be summarized like this: once upon a time, Mars did have a direct impact while helping the military. Nowadays, in the age of internet, cell phones, fiber optic cables and satellites, there is no such direct impact anymore. This makes Mars useless in the eyes of some.

Mars has become a backup service. Maybe even the backup of a backup of a backup... A few actually argued here that not even in a worse case scenario would Mars be activated. (I'm not sure how they know that for a fact, but the claim has been made).

Personally, I believe in having a plan B, and a plan C, and a plan D if possible. I'm a strong believer in redundancy, if conditions allow it. Not just redundancy, but effective and efficient redundancy. For me, this kind of redundancy is a feature, not a bug. I see absolutely no reason to criticize or belittle it.

Redundancy, by its nature, might never come to the forefront. It doesn't bother me at all to be part of such redundancy.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 09:32:28 PM by KB6E » Logged
K4PIH
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Posts: 99




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« Reply #160 on: March 30, 2018, 06:47:27 AM »

Mars is not dead. True, it has changed but it's far from dead. Mars members make up a good portion of the federal program known as SHARES (SHAred RESources) high frequency radio program. Army and Air Force Mars members are active and when Navy/Marine Corps MARS closed, a large portion of those members were welcomed to Army Mars and SHARES with open arms.

A lot of Mars folks were deeply involved with the string of hurricanes/floods/bad weather we saw last year and are ready to respond again if needed.

Yes the equipment bank has pretty much dried up but that's not because of Mars. DoD has decided that usable equipment and the program to make it available to the public was not cost effective. Gone is DRMO or Dr. Mo as it was known.

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AE7VA
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« Reply #161 on: April 06, 2018, 01:35:44 PM »

I ended up leaving USAF MARS a year ago over credentialing problems. I didn't want to belong to a service that was unwilling to issue proper credentials to its membership. When I was state director for two years in 2013 and 2014, I ran into constant problems trying to work with local state EOC officials and even active duty and reserve base personnel because I did not have any credentials to prove who I was. All I had was a pdf of my station license that I printed on my printer at home; hardly proof of who I was. As SMD, I would talk to the commander of the comm squadron  or similar on the phone and he would ask why can't you come on base? I would tell him that we are part of the USAF but have no credentials; unlike CAP.  You could almost always hear on the phone the tone of "sure you are buddy, yeah right, you're from "MARS" part of the USAF but with no credentials of any kind, sure I'd risk my career to let you on the installation for a meeting or discuss communications plans with you." For the most part I found that USAF MARS had very little if any connection with its active duty and reserve counterparts; from my experience, they didn't even know we existed.

Eventually I got a DD2350 USAF MARS ID card because of my EOC affiliation. Having EOC affiliation was the only way to get one. But, at the base security forces and Pass/ID section had no documentation of any kind that ID card existed and would not accept it. Also, the DD2350 card in MARS regs states it is not for installation access. What good was it then? Absolutely WORTHLESS. Mine expired in 2015 and two years later, still couldn't get a replacement issued.

I ended up leaving USAF MARS and joining the US Coast Guard Auxiliary instead. I now participate in actual HF augmentation for active duty, quality control weather broadcasts to mariners and participate in national Aux HF nets; including actual call ups to monitor HF during severe weather events and had my name placed on the list to deploy to hurricane zones last summer. I also do VHF radio dispatching for our patrol boats.  Much more actual, real activity in USCG Aux versus training for something that will never happen in MARS. PLUS, they issue us actual ID cards recognized by the USCG for installation access and privileges at USCG exchanges and commissaries and MWR. Overall, I've found my activity (at the home station or out in the field working VHF with patrol boats) with the USCG Aux to be much more rewarding and exciting.
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KA0P
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« Reply #162 on: April 07, 2018, 10:49:18 AM »

Unfortunate but just a part of present day security. I am also a member of CAP, however CAP ID does not get me onto local AFB. I have to be met at gate and under constant escort of someone with proper credentials. Usually not a problem as several CAP members on base, but not so with MARS. And apparently no more MARS base support teams.
 Nowadays it is participate from home with digital HF.   I do hear some AF  Mars stations checking in to our CAP nets. Much as you find good activity between CG and CG Aux, there is good cooperation between USAF and CAP. Plus CAP has a cadet program where young people can participate. I always  provide assistance to the cadets and senior members who are interested in training in radio communications and associated areas. Nothing more rewarding than seeing a teenager handling radio communications at an event with aircraft and ground teams. yep it costs a few bucks to join and you have to wear some type of uniform and you have to attend meetings but cadets can get orientation flights in powered aircrafts and gliders. And a few do end up with ham licenses. 
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K4PIH
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« Reply #163 on: April 13, 2018, 06:10:46 AM »

[quote author=AE7VA link=topic=86060.msg1064721#msg1064721 date=1523046944. PLUS, they issue us actual ID cards recognized by the USCG for installation access and privileges at USCG exchanges and commissaries and MWR. Overall, I've found my activity (at the home station or out in the field working VHF with patrol boats) with the USCG Aux to be much more rewarding and exciting.
[/quote]

So to be a fly in the ointment, how does your "USCG card" entitle you to any commissary/post exchange/MWR privileges? Did you serve in the  military for the required length of time?
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AE7VA
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« Reply #164 on: April 17, 2018, 02:30:24 PM »

 @K4PIH So to be a fly in the ointment, how does your "USCG card" entitle you to any commissary/post exchange/MWR privileges? Did you serve in the  military for the required length of time?
[/quote]

The active-duty USCG authorizes all USCG Auxiliary members access to USCG commissaries, exchanges, military clothing sales, and MWR services including USCG installation access nationwide. The privileges are printed on the back of our identification credentials and are given to any Auxiliary member regardless of any past active or reserve duty. The USCG proudly recognizes the uniformed Auxiliary as a recognized member of "Team Coast Guard."

The identification cards also obviously identifies us when working in uniform to the public/other government agencies and when we are augmenting active-duty and reserve units.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 02:33:52 PM by AE7VA » Logged
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