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Author Topic: Should I join?  (Read 63430 times)
COZ
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Posts: 2




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« on: January 27, 2013, 07:37:14 AM »

I'm considering joining the MARS program. I'm reading conflicting things here that this offers no real value anymore and could be discontinued. I was wondering if I could start a dialog here of the pro's and con's of MARS. Thanks
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KA0P
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Posts: 14




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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2013, 12:22:30 PM »

I would suggest you try to contact some members in your area if possible. There are still 3 individual service MARS programs, Army, AF, and Navy.  Do you have a service preference? Since I am ex AF, I leaned toward AF Mars, even though Army Mars was more active in my area. In our North Central division there are area nets 6-7am, 8-9am, and 7-10pm central time. You will find that you will get out of Mars what you put into it. I have seen people join and give up after a few months, and I have seen people join as quickly rise to net control and volunteer leadership positions.  I recommend you speak with a person, either in person or on phone  and not rely on email discussions entirley if possible.   I recommend you monitor the nets you will be participating in so you can get some idea of the activity you will be taking part in. That info will only be available by phone or individual email as we are restricted from publicly giving out Mars frequencies. (you might look at some of the SWL magazines like Monitoring times).
The main reasons I have seen folks dissatisfied are ,
1. Initially they did not have full info. I have seen people join without ever having heard a Mars net, or know what Mars was really about. Some did not even have HF equipment when joining.
2. As most of our frequencies are in the lower HF range, 100watts and a good dipole are really needed, 10 watts to the rain gutter will be frustrating . I have tried that.

If you are in a rural area, there may not be a member of any of the services near you.

There have been lots of rumors about consolidation and major changes, but those rumors have been around since the military started scaling back their Mars operations in the early 1990s, and none of them have happened yet, 20 years later.

Our AF Mars website for north central area is very good, just google-- North Central area USAF mars  for the link.

You will probably need some type of digital capability- one of the soundcard modes .

If I can be of further help. let me know

73, Dave KA0P

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N9KWW
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Posts: 86




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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2013, 06:34:53 PM »

I am Navy MARS, but we have AF MARS members join us on some of our nets and we join in on some of theirs as well.  MARS has changed and yet remained the same, we still have the same training nets and we still hold training on a regular basis, but we have changed is that our net procedures and messages are all the same between the three services. We are not consolidated but we all share the same spectrum and procedures. Additionally we all do things the same way, a change from the past. We are ECOM driven and that is our primary mission just as it always has been.  In MARS you get out of it what you put into it, most go in with a good attitude and thrive. Lots of positions and interests to satisfy most people. We do have experimentation of sorts such as ALE and many digital modes.
   In Wisconsin where I am at Army MARS is almost nonexistent, but we have a very large AF and Navy presence and we work together in many exercises and different projects. This all came about because of a new member putting in the time and effort to make the changes we needed to make this joint relationship a reality. Like it has been said before you get what you put into it. MARS is a great place to have fun, get valuable training and  have an opportunity to become have leadership position and community involvement. If you have any questions please fell free to e-mail me and you can check out the Navy MARS web site as well. Most of our site is unrestricted, but some information is confidential in nature and thus restricted.
Ron
NNN0GCE FOUR/ NNN0VAG
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COZ
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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2013, 06:47:05 PM »

Thank you both for the great summaries.  I'm in New York City now but I'm moving to Long Island this year and I'm trying to plan my future setup. When I get closer to applying, I will email you with some further questions. Hopefully by this summer. Best regards

James
KD2COZ
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WX4O
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Posts: 99




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« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2013, 11:12:12 AM »

MARS is but a mere shadow of itself. It's not worth it, which you will find out if you're in it for more than 60 days.
I advise against it.
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WD8DBY
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Posts: 24




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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2013, 08:49:37 AM »

All three MARS services are alive and striving.  There are training nets that occur several times a day, every day.  There are state, region, and national level exercises occurring on a regular basis.  Phone patch support is alive and growing...both morale calls as well as mission support calls.  I would invite you to take a look at the Army MARS Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/HQArmyMARS  as well as our public site for more information:  http://www.usarmymars.org/

73s

Paul
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W5TTW
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Posts: 42




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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2013, 05:42:50 PM »

I'm reading conflicting things here that this offers no real value anymore and could be discontinued.

The US has been fighting two wars for over ten years.  Meanwhile, MARS holds exercises and training nets.  What does that tell you?
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NX5MK
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Posts: 65




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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2013, 11:20:42 PM »

The US has been fighting two wars for over ten years.  Meanwhile, MARS holds exercises and training nets.  What does that tell you?
[/quote]

A) ...that the existing communication systems of the services are able to handle the current message volume. So? That's a good thing! History however should have taught all of us that nothing can be taken for granted.

B) ...that there are many HAMs who take 47 CFR 97.1 a) b) c) and d) seriously.

C) ...that there are many HAMs who by assisting MARS (or any other EmComm group of their choice) also follow the Amateur's Code.

D) ...that there are many HAMs who, by not following B) and C), are possibly are in violation of the license granted on the basis of the above, which should be recinded immediately and that they bring shame upon themselves.

To the HAM who originated this thread: I applaud your consideration to serve your fellow citizens by potentially contributing to MARS. If you should find out that the MARS service does not fulfill your desire in our grand hobby, then do please evaluate possibly volunteering with another Amateur Radio Auxilliary Communications Service. Your efforts will be rewarded by the respect gained.

73 de Marcus KD0JKM

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N5INP
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Posts: 750




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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2013, 08:55:10 AM »

The US has been fighting two wars for over ten years.  Meanwhile, MARS holds exercises and training nets.  What does that tell you?

...that the existing communication systems of the services are able to handle the current message volume. So? That's a good thing! History however should have taught all of us that nothing can be taken for granted.

KD0JKM - I'm curious about this service as I've only heard of it but that's about it. Can you give me an example of how it would realistically be of value given today's state of advanced communications services (satellite's, internet, redundant systems, etc. ). What sort of scenario on the world stage in this day and age would you envision requiring a rather large and ongoing assistance of MARS members? Thanks.

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WD8DBY
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Posts: 24




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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2013, 02:27:00 PM »

The mission for all three MARS is to provide contingency communications to the Department of Defense and civil authorities.  We routinely train for worst case scenarios for when the internet stops working, cellphone and landline telephone service no longer works or are so congested that they are unusable, etc.  MARS provides an immediate long-haul voice and digital messaging capability for those initial responses when the other usual forms of communications are not immediately available following a disaster.       
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KC8YHN
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Posts: 25




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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2013, 02:51:54 PM »

The mission for all three MARS is to provide contingency communications to the Department of Defense and civil authorities.  We routinely train for worst case scenarios for when the internet stops working, cellphone and landline telephone service no longer works or are so congested that they are unusable, etc.  MARS provides an immediate long-haul voice and digital messaging capability for those initial responses when the other usual forms of communications are not immediately available following a disaster.       

I too am curious about this and wonder where the civilian part of it comes into play when we already have other resources at hand to deal with communications during events like disasters.

Another thing that I don't understand is if the Internet stops, cell phones stop and so on, wouldn't the need for secure communications through the military communications resources be used and only those resources because we would be in deep trouble at that point?
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NA4IT
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Posts: 870


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« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2013, 05:11:13 AM »

Going to be perfectly honest here. I was in Army MARS. Still have several friends in it. But, I saw it start to become "clickish" and very political in nature, in that some people forced their agenda on others, to the point of bending if not breaking the rules, and no chastisement about it from the top (the "Fort"). There were some really great leaders forced out by others that didn't like the fact that those great leaders worked at it and tried to make the program what it was supposed to be.

That said, maybe it was my state, maybe it was my region. But considering what I saw, it seemed to be the whole program. Like I have indicated, there are some great people in it. Just don't know that much has changed.
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NX5MK
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Posts: 65




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« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2013, 10:31:06 PM »


KD0JKM - I'm curious about this service as I've only heard of it but that's about it. Can you give me an example of how it would realistically be of value given today's state of advanced communications services (satellite's, internet, redundant systems, etc. ). What sort of scenario on the world stage in this day and age would you envision requiring a rather large and ongoing assistance of MARS members? Thanks.



N5INP,

Please search for reports on "cyber attack infrastructure" or any other related keywords, it will yield many interesting articles. From my own experience in my industry, I can only agree with the cautionary words written by many. Current "advanced" services are regrettably not as hardened as one would assume. I bet you too have met many malicious people in your lifetime. Regrettably these people are occasionally also able to cause a lot of damage.

"Carrington Event" is another excellent search term providing most interesting reading. Nature is still stronger than man.

"The wise man should be prepared for everything that does not lie within his control." (Pythagoras)

Joining or founding an EmComm service is certainly no waste of time. What better way that to contribute to the advancement of the radio art?

vy 73 de Marcus KD0JKM
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N4ZAW
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Posts: 83


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« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2013, 09:59:39 AM »

I joined AF MARS back in the 90's and was issued the training calsign of AFT2PH -- but I never finished my training due to immediate family duties (and my job). With very little 'off-time' for the hobby of radio, I dropped MARS. I have always regretted that move, and resented my responsibilities at the time because of my choice somewhat. When I retire for good, good Lord willing, I will surely 're-up'. As for it's role in actual military communications,the redundancy of internal com services, coupled with today's com technologies outside of it, MARS may be less relevant these days, sure...
But how many actual combatants can we afford to re-direct to the respective comm branches of the services in the event of a world war, or global natural disaster?in this age of mass-destruction capabilities by rouge countries, how can a 60 year-old HAM contribute to the efforts of his nation's defense and survival, or that of his own community?
Whether or not those operators now enlisted into the service are EVER activated, in my humble opinion, it's an irrelevant debate. Totally moot.  I strongly believe that another Carrington Event is inevitable, and in such an event, there will be no civilization, and likely, no MARS service anyhow. But the TRAINING they gave me!! Whether or not I live long enough to witness the total breakdown of civilization, I consider that training as a priceless asset to my preparedness. So is my NTS (National Traffic System) training and periodic usage. The two formats used are stunningly similar. That is because they contain 'error-correction' protocol. Just imagine the benefits of that if/when the grid goes down! What offers error-free (or at least,low instances of errors) in communication when nobody has a computer to do it for them?
Massive EMP prep or not, I urge everyone; If you have the time and inclination to serve, to serve. At minimum, check into your local NTS NET, if there is one, and learn basic traffic handling format. It may save somebody's life in grubby times, and boss/commander may even keep you "gainfully-employed" to maintain communications -- even if you're 90.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2013, 10:49:04 AM by N4ZAW » Logged
KC8YHN
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Posts: 25




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« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2013, 05:57:48 PM »

OK I understand some of this but if we have a solar storm or an EMP happen, the military is a step ahead of any of us unless we have hardened equipment, right?

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