US Army MARS Program Manager Paul English, WD8DBY, reviewed the upcoming calendar of communication exercises planned for the remainder of 2017, when he spoke via video link to attendees at the Army MARS Region 3 Conference April 6-8 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Hosting the event was Pennsylvania Army MARS, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).
Addressing the first day of the gathering, English highlighted MARS participation in two NORTHCOM-sponsored exercises that are taking place this week — one in Lake Delton, Wisconsin, supporting the Wisconsin Army National Guard and Office of Emergency Management, and the other in New York and New Jersey called “Gotham Shield.”
“Gotham Shield includes MARS members interfacing with Amateur Radio operators as well as with National Guard stations,” English told ARRL. “One key event of this exercise is to tie — via HF radio — the Commander of NORTHCOM in Colorado Springs and the National Guard Bureau in Washington, DC, with the exercise occurring in New York City.
Attending the event were Army and Air Force MARS members from Region 3, which includes Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
English said he also briefly discussed the quarterly Department of Defense exercises planned for May, August, and October. “The October exercise will again focus on interoperating with the amateur community and high-power broadcasts on 60 meters, as well as a on a higher daytime operating frequency,” he said.
English answered more than a dozen questions from Region 3 members, covering topics ranging from membership recognition and training to MARS policy.
Army MARS Pennsylvania State Director Travis Best, W3TMB, opened the Region 3 conference. Best said the relationship of trust between PEMA and Pennsylvania MARS operators has allowed MARS to establish a state-of-the-art Amateur Radio station, in cooperation with the Auxiliary Communication Services in the PEMA Commonwealth Response Coordination Center.
“As MARS nears 100 years of service to the country, the jam-packed conference showcased the dramatic evolution of resources available to support today’s volunteer MARS operators to meet the mission of providing contingency and emergency communications for the Department of Defense and federal and civil authorities,” said Chon Gann, K3DHS, the Army MARS Region 3 public affairs officer.