[mdmars_members] Fw: //MARS R/Chief, Army MARS Net Notes, 30 January 2009

  • From: J Sears <aat3ok@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: AIG-2 <mdmars_members@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009 15:56:16 -0800 (PST)

FYI guys ...

--- On Fri, 1/30/09, AAA9F@xxxxxxxxxxx <AAA9F@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

From: AAA9F@xxxxxxxxxxx <AAA9F@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: //MARS R/Chief, Army MARS Net Notes, 30 January 2009
To: AAA0AF@xxxxxxxxxxx, AAA0ID@xxxxxxxxxxx, KC7PHQ@xxxxxxxx, 
AAA0OR@xxxxxxxxxxx, AAA0RD@xxxxxxxxxxx, AAA0WA@xxxxxxxxxxx, AAA0ZC@xxxxxxxxxxx, 
kc1bt2636@xxxxxxxx, AAA1USA@xxxxxxxxxxx, AAA2NJ@xxxxxxxxxxx, kd2dm@xxxxxxxxxxx, 
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Date: Friday, January 30, 2009, 3:31 PM

R 302125z Jan 2009
Fm D.Smith/AAA9F AZ
To All Army MARS Members and Stations

Subject: Chief, Army MARS Net Notes, -- 30 JAN 2009

Good evening, Army MARS members and guests from Navy-Marine Corps and Air Force
MARS, and
 fellow amateurs receiving this message.  I'm sorry I could not hold the
net tonight, but
 what follows is the information I would have shared with you tonight.

We've all been hearing about change, change and more change over the last
few days, not to
 mention months and past two years.  However, there is no way I can avoid
bringing up more 
of the same (yes, more change) this evening.  
For one thing, there's the Army MARS support response during the 20 JAN 09
ceremonies and that was all about the change at the White House.  For another,
there are
 the new directions we've been drafting in the Army MARS "Road
Ahead" program. There are 
also significant revisions just handed down for the National Incident
Management System, 
or NIMS, which guides all federal response to emergencies including ours. 
Two weekends ago yesterday, I received the first draft of the Road Ahead
document written 
by the Tiger Team of seven very experienced members (Bob Mims, AAA1RD Tiger
Team Leader;
 Mike Barrett, AAA9TS; Paul Drothler, AAV4DJ; Pudge Forrester, AAA9GL; Pat
Lane, AAA9EC; 
Dave Martin, AAA6TX; and Bill Sexton, AAA9PC).  My intention was to publish it
this weekend.
 But along came a wealth of timely as well as highly useful information
generated by MARS 
activity during the Inauguration.  I am going to spend a few more days
reviewing the Road 
Ahead and devote this weekend's comments to current operations.
        Let me make one preliminary comment on the Road Ahead.  Based on very 
 I'd say the Road Ahead and the new edition of NIMS are coming out very
much on the same
For instance, the December 2008 NIMS revision moves Preparedness to first place
on the FEMA 
list of priorities, replacing Command and Management.  It promotes
Communications to no. 2 
(it was no. 4). That's a very meaningful shift of emphasis. Taking the new
goals a step 
further, Training ranks high up in the NIMS prescription for Preparedness,
right After Plans
 and Procedures, Interoperability ranks number one under Communications. 
Preparedness and Training, Communications and Interoperability: That's our
road ahead too. Stay tuned for the details.

 I have these 5 items for the net.
1-MARS and the Presidential Inauguration
2-NIMS Revised
3-Interoperability 101 (cont.): Army Reserve partnership
4-MARS goes on-line in WorldRadio
5-An important parting thought on jointness.

Standing by for the Inauguration
      It may have been largely invisible, but an awesome effort went into Army
preparation for the Inauguration support operation. The effort wasn't
wasted, either, 
just because the ceremonies went off without problems. Not by a long shot it
wasn't wasted. 
The preparedness operation launched by Region 3 produced lessons applicable to
all of us.
        Leaders and members, please take notice: Washington D.C. may have a 
presidential inaugurations. It does not have a monopoly with respect to
protecting large
 concentrations of population that one day could become the target for
terrorists. Region 1
 has Boston and the ports and research assets surrounding it. Region 2 has the
New York 
metropolitan area. Region 4 has Cape Canaveral and Jacksonville and Tampa with
strategic military installations. Region 9 has Los Angeles and Silicon Valley
and the Bay
 area. I don't need to go on, do I?   
There's only one difference between Region 3's activation on Jan. 20
and the mass population 
planning incumbent on the rest of us. The difference is that region 3 director
Tim Zutaut 
AAA3RD had advance notice.  That's a luxury the next big-target activation
may not enjoy. 
It's with that in mind that I'm going to devote most of these comments
to the Inauguration 

Sharing the credit: I'll begin with a bow to region 3 director Zutaut, his
emergency operations officer Larry Walker AAM3RE, and Maryland state director
Jim Sears AAA3MD. The
 clarity of Alert Notifications, Operations Orders, and AARs reflected planning
performance of the first order. Region 4's director Jim Hamilton AAA4RD and
his assistant
 director-East, Reggie Faust AAM4RDE deserve kudos for getting right in step
with Region 3.
 I know all these leaders benefited from the insights and efforts of their
staff and other 
members. You know who you are and I address my appreciation to you as well.
 I especially liked Reggie Faust's instruction to the state directors in
his sub-region:
 "This is a perfect opportunity to check propagation, NCS performance or
any technique. It
 is also a perfect opportunity for all of Region 4 to work as a unit and get
Let's see how many stations we can get on the air!"
 I was cheered by the comment of Maryland SD Jim Sears, whose base at the state
EOC gave him
 a view of the whole show: "NCS performance on HF nets was outstanding.
Due to the length of
 the operation the NCS were changed at the top of each hour [and] this worked
There were some innovations well worth mentioning. Region 3's Zutaut used
to coordinate planning. Larry Walker, his emergency operations officer, came up
with a 
concept for the first multi-region net operation of its type that I've
become aware of. 
And it is 
Or rather, he borrowed it.  I'll call it "standby net," used by
the Air Force MARS Transcon 
HF net which, as the name suggests, spans the continent.  A net that size could
be a very
 messy operation without a unique procedure.  After a station checks in, it
remains silent
 except to list traffic, accept traffic, or check out. The rule is no comments,
no talk about
 weather, no random radio checks. The net is either silence or business.  Net
controls change 
hourly, and upon taking charge conduct a roll call. Otherwise the channel is
always clear for
 an emergency.   Your CAM likes this type of net:  it is effective, efficient,
and easy.
Tying together 4 regions: Region 3 established its emergency net, AAA3RD/E, to
cover Army 
MARS Regions 1 through 4, all of which had been alerted for the inauguration.
Regions 2 and 
4 conducted their own support nets, with designated liaison stations to link
their nets with
 AAA4RD/E. With a series of weather emergencies on its plate, Region 1 did not
activate but
 did maintain liaison. Among the 67 Region 3 participants were Army MARS
stations at the
 Pentagon, FEMA and Maryland EOC. 
"It is a monumental accomplishment when all Army MARS regions 1,2,3 and 4
were present for
 seven and a half hours," commented Larry Walker, the EOO. "The only
real difficulty in 
making contact was from some net controls to [the more distant] Region 4
This was fixed with perseverance on the part of members using established
procedures for 
"In general MARS joint voice procedures worked very well. Unusual
procedures for matters 
such as roll calls worked well," he said.
One problem noted was the difficulty some stations had with the designated
frequency because
 of inadequate antennas. The frequency was optimum for wide area coverage by
daylight but 
well away from amateur bands.
Another was high noise levels encountered inside the Maryland EOC. The lesson
learned is to
 scout all likely deployment sites and be prepared to counter the local

Added starters:  I'd like to take special note of several activities beyond
the usual norm.
 First, let's acknowledge Jim Sylvester AAA9IP, who last year added CONUS
to his prior 
responsibilities for phone patching OCONUS.  For the first time (at least in my
short MARS experience) our reviving domestic phone patch network was activated
for this sort
 of high-level mission. AARs indicated weak-but-readable to loud-and-clear
conditions, but no 
connections were requested. "The phone patch stations are organized and
they now have a close
 working relationship," Sylvester's deactivation report declared.
He cited (thanked) four stations for joining the special net as NCS or ANCS:
Chatmon Houston
 AAT3AO, Dave Bly AAR9AH, Jude Flores AAR6NB and Bob Warren AAT9CV.   AEM1VCP
tried to check 
in from Germany but telephoned that propagation was nonexistent. 

Air Force MARS on the Air:  Building on its recent collaborations with Army
MARS region 2,
 our Air Force partners went all out in comms support for the Inauguration. AF
MARS regions 
1 through 5 activated three nets and provided liaison to both our Regions 3 and
2.  The 
recently-installed national emergency communications manager, Michael Carl
AFN2RC, reported
 134 stations participated. Of these, 90 joined the Air Force MARS Northeast
Region's double
-track emcomm net, which runs simultaneously on two frequencies.
"This was the largest activation of Air Force MARS in many years and was
successfully because of the extremely valuable lessons learned through two
years of 
exercises among the three MARS services," said Jim Edmonds AFE2XC, the
Northeast Area
 exercise coordinator. He added that he's already working with Army MARS
region 2 director
 Bill Fitzsimmons on future joint training.

                NIMS Updated
I mentioned the National Incident Management System revision that was published
last month. Also published is a revised ICS700, one of the four on-line courses
that the Army MARS Road
 Ahead will ask all members to complete. 
The new version, ICS700A, is highly interactive, almost entertaining with its
video detours,
 and it removes any mystery from a lot of emergency response doctrine. It takes
about two 
hours, less if you did the original ICS 700. Some members actually recommend
taking 700 first,
 before ICS 100, 200, and 800A, the others currently required for members with
Information on all the courses is available at

        Working with the Army Reserve

In the past couple of nets I have cited examples of state commands building
close relationships with the agencies most important to MARS. By that I mean
practical examples 
that others might follow. We traced how Tennessee Army MARS achieved
recognition and respect
 from their state emergency management agency, and how Texas MARS has become an
 insider for National Guard civil emergency response. 
In both those instances the key was simple: MARS leaders attended meetings,
made formal 
presentations wherever and whenever they could, and took every opportunity to
in state-level planning.  Texas state director Dave Martin put it this way:
"If you are not 
part of the planning process, then you are not going to be considered part of
the response." 
This weekend the subject is jointness with Army Reserve units. The Reservists
require a 
different approach because there is no single state headquarters to address.
Here's how 
California made the connection.
There's more than good fortune to it, but good fortune sure helps. The
California story 
begins with MAJ Roman Kamienski, an Army Reservist since 1995. His day job
communications for a major power company. In the Reserves, he was involved in 
telecommunications and IT. 
He recalled wanting to become a ham "but I was not satisfied with just
rag-chewing," as 
he put it.  Kamienski discovered Army MARS on a web site and shortly after
getting his tech 
license, he joined Army MARS. That was in 2003.
In 2007, after several years of planning, the Army was ready to conduct annual
maneuvers at 
the brand-new U.S. Army Combat Support Training Center, Ft Hunter Liggett.
Several thousand
 reservists from the western states would participate. 
However, there was an unforeseen problem: enabling VHF communication over the
terrain of the 165,000-acre maneuver ground.. Major Kamienski got the
assignment to solve 
it, and he asked for help from his Army MARS colleagues. Region 9 Director Mike
Itnyre AAA9RD
 approved the request. Mike and Roman led a team of volunteers on a weeks'
work of repairing
 and installing repeaters and antennas and programming 200 radios.
They did something right because the Army wanted them back again last year, and
the same 
job is pending this coming summer.
As a result, "we've had multiple smaller events such as MARS members
acting as technical 
advisors to Army Reserve units in trouble-shooting existing radio systems or
upgrading radio
 systems," Itnyre said.
No doubt other states must develop their own contacts with Reserve units, but
lots of hams 
are reservists, and California has no monopoly on resourceful members.
Willingness to take 
on the job, and know-how to do it, this is what made the difference.

        A New MARS presence on the Web

Over the last several decades, a monthly magazine named WorldRadio has devoted
many pages 
to reporting on MARS. At the end of last year, its publisher and our friend
Armand Noble
 retired at age 75. I noted previously that CQ magazine had acquired WorldRadio
and was 
taking it on-line, free of any subscription charge.
The February issue is now available on the web. Continuing a long tradition, it
Bill Sexton's every-other month MARS column, this month's commenting on
the significance 
of events like the Mumbai terrorist raid. The web magazine is accessible at
-radio.com, and click on the WorldRadio flag in the upper left corner.

A Parting Thought on Jointness
The pressures surrounding any real emergency operation are bound to generate
misunderstanding, confusion and or mistakes in the best of circumstances. If
that sort of
 thing also happens during an exercise, it only means the planners have
achieved their goal 
of creating a realistic scenario. Historians call it "the fog of
I am told we had a few moments of fog during the Inauguration activity. Some of
it involved
 transmissions between different MARS branches, and that shouldn't be a
surprise. We're
 relatively new at it.
Given all the variables, 100 per cent conformity with plans and procedures is
never going 
to be achieved-not in our own operations and certainly not when interoperating.
We can only 
do our best. 
It's important to remember that if we're struggling to do things the
right Army MARS way, 
the other fellow is probably doing the same with his Oporder and his net plan
and SOP.  If 
there's a procedural collision, the right thing to do is to do whatever it
takes to get the 
message delivered. Sometimes switching to an alternate route might be
necessary, but reasonable operators should be able to do better than that. The
important thing is to forego
 fault-finding and escalating the minor glitches into big issues. To borrow
from NIMS, local
 emergencies are to be handled locally.
Preparing against operational confusion is like taking inoculations before
overseas deployment-it requires more than one shot. 
First off, leaders have to make sure everyone with the slightest chance of
involvement is 
fully briefed. That includes personally briefing the other MARS branches and
the partners 
we support. Merely assuming an Oporder got delivered and read isn't enough.
I've mentioned 
how Region 3 employed teleconferencing. 
Also, repeated joint training is essential, keeping in mind how frequently
emergency personnel
 are shifted around. 
But if procedural differences do become an issue, as they surely will, it's
useful to remember
 the ultimate mission isn't being right, it's moving the traffic. And
when the real action
 begins, there's always patience, politeness and flexibility to fall back
on. These qualities
 are real problem solvers. 
I like the way jointness is defined in the new NIMS:
"First and foremost, interoperability is the ability of emergency
management/response personnel to interact and work well together."
        That says it all.

Last year at this time we implemented the MARS Voice SOP.  It has worked well
throughout the
 year.  Now is the time to look back over the past 12 months and determine what
little stuff
 needs tweaking.   With that in mind, I'm seeking concurrence from my
fellow MARS chiefs to
 enable streamlined check-ins when any NCS (Army or AF or N-MC) elects to do
it-usually based
 on time available for the net, how large the participation is-in an effort to
 accomplish training/passing messages/what ever.".  I encourage all three
services MARS teams
 to be "SEMPER GUMBY" ' means "Always Flexible."  

Thanks for your remarkable efforts over 2008.  You should look forward to
seeing the Army
 MARS road ahead and the new Training guide within the next 30 days or so.

God willing and if the river don't rise to high, will talk with you over
the airwaves on 
13 Feb 09.  CAM,  out.



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  • » [mdmars_members] Fw: //MARS R/Chief, Army MARS Net Notes, 30 January 2009 - J Sears