The first quarterly Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) US Department of Defense communications exercise of 2016 (COMEX 16-1) is set for February 12. The scenario will be a loss of electrical power, landline telephone and cell service, and Internet. The exercise will get under way at 1200 UTC and run for 12 hours. Individual radio amateurs and Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) groups will be encouraged to participate.
“The purpose of this exercise is to focus on individual MARS operator skills, refine our joint operations procedures between Army and Air Force volunteer leaders, and to continue to develop the working relationships at the local level between MARS operators and individual Amateur Radio operators as well as ARES and other Amateur Radio groups,” Army MARS Program Manager Paul English, WD8DBY, told ARRL. “ MARS is continuing to develop new techniques for how to make better use of Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) capabilities and will use this exercise to continue to refine how we integrate ALE.”
At some point in the exercise, MARS stations will be requested to contact local radio amateurs for a condition report. MARS stations will collect information from hams and ARES groups only via radio.