Resources for ARES®

ARES Alphabet Soup


by David Fowler, K4DLF

SM, SEC, DEC, EC, AEC, OES, ADEC, ASEC – what do they mean and why do we have them? Amateur Radio Emergency Services or ARES is part of the national field organization of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Since there are thousands of ARES members throughout the nation, a hierarchy has been developed to support local, regional, and national needs.

Under the ARRL headquarters, the field organization is made up of 71 sections. Florida has 3 sections and we live in the Southern Florida Section. Each section is led by a Section Manager (SM) who has overall responsibility for ARRL activities in the section including ARES. Section Managers are elected to 2 year terms by the ARRL membership in the section. Since the SM has many responsibilities besides ARES, they usually appoint a Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) who oversees ARES. For manageability, another level between the section and the counties exists called the district. ARES in each district is overseen by a District Emergency Coordinator (DEC). Each county has an Emergency Coordinator (EC) who oversees all ARES activities at the county level. Working with the DEC and SEC, the EC prepares for and engages in the management of communications needs for disasters and public service events. Since the job of EC is often too big for one person, the EC can appoint Assistant Emergency Coordinators (AECs). The AEC is a local appointment and is unique in that it is the only appointment within ARES that does not need approval of the SM. ECs can have as many or as few AECs as they need.

An Official Emergency Station (OES) is an amateur radio operator appointed by the SEC or SM on the recommendation of an EC or DEC. OES appointees make a deeper commitment to ARES than do typical ARES members. The OES carries out specific functions and assignments designated by the appropriate EC or DEC. In the Southern Florida Section, prospects must have emergency power and an assignment to be considered for the OES appointment. Some sections also have Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator (ASEC) and/or Assistant District Emergency Coordinator (ADEC) appointments. As the names suggest, these assignments are assistants for the SEC or DEC.

The organizational structure described here has proven itself time and time again during disasters. Although ARRL membership is not required to be an ARES member, all ARES appointments do require ARRL membership.