What is MARS?
The Military Affiliate Radio System is a Department of Defense
sponsored program, established as separate managed and operated
programs by the Army, Navy and Air Force.
The program consists of licensed amateur radio operators who
are interested in military communications. They contribute
to the MARS mission providing auxiliary or emergency communications
on a local. national and international basis as an adjunct to
In November 1925, the Army Amateur Radio System (AARS) was formed by
a few dedicated pioneers in the United States Army Signal Corps.
This organization continued until the start of World War II when
operations were suspended. Army amateur radio was authorized to
resume operations in 1946 and the Army Amateur Radio System was
in 1962, the Navy-Marine Corps MARS program was launched making
MARS a joint service program.
- Provide Department of Defense sponsored emergency communications
on a local, national, and international basis as an adjunct to normal
- Provide auxiliary communications for military, civil, and/or
disaster officials during periods of emergency.
- Assist in effecting normal communications under emergency
- Create interest, and furnish a means of training members in
military communications procedures.
- Provide a potential reserve of trained radio communications
- Handle moral and quasi-official record and voice communications
traffic for Armed Forces and authorized U.S. Government civilian
personnel stationed throughout the world.
- Conduct an appropriate Amateur Radio program as a part of the
annual celebration of Armed Forces Day.
Eligibility to join MARS
The applicant must -
- Be 17 years of age or older.
- Be a United States Citizen or resident alien.
- Possess a valid amateur radio license issued by the Federal
Communications Commission or other competent U.S. authority.
- Possess a station capable of operating on MARS HF frequencies.
MARS members must agree to operate in accordance with the rules and
regulations governing MARS and the following:
- For Army - A minimum of 12 hours per calendar quarter with
6 hours being on HF networks.
- For Air Force - A minimum of 12 hours participation per
calendar quarter with 6 hours in their primary HF assignment.
- For Navy-Marine Corps - A minimum of 18 hours per calendar
quarter with 12 to the 18 hours being on area or region HF networks.
Benefits of MARS Membership
- Add to the enjoyment of your amateur radio hobby through the
expended horizon of MARS.
- Become part of the Army, Navy-Marine Corps, or Air Force MARS
worldwide communications system. There are MARS stations in Japan,
Korea, the Trust Territories, Philippines, Hawaii, Panama, the Virgin
Islands, Puerto Rico, Central America, Alaska, Germany, Africa, and
the continental United States.
- Increase your communications skills and capabilities. Selected
correspondence courses in communications, electronics subjects are
available free to MARS members from their respective affiliated service
after completion of six months active member ship.
- Operate on specially assigned military radio frequencies in voice,
teletype, CW, and packet modes of communications.
- Join a group of dedicated fellow radio amateurs participating in
meaningful public service.
- Affiliate with the service branch of your choice and become part
of the professional military communications family.
- Gain a feeling of being associated with a military mission and
contributing to the welfare and preparedness of the nation.
- Participate in regulated, disciplined radio nets with structured
lines of organization and very specific operating rules.
- Participate in the MARS Excess/Surplus Equipment Program after
6 months active membership. Issue of equipment is based on
availability of equipment, and possible assigned mission of
individual activity. The granting of MARS membership to an
individual or activity does not in itself convey an automatic right
or entitlement of the recipient to receive or demand MARS property.
Typical MARS Frequencies
MARS members stations meet periodically in scheduled networks on
military frequencies outside of the amateur bands. There are
various types of networks and each accomplishes a specific goal.
For example, administrative networks to take care of much of the
day-to-day management of the program; traffic networks which exist
solely to pass third party traffic; and of course, emergency
networks which are established to provide for communication needs
during periods of emergency. There are also technical nets and
training nets. MARS nets operate in different modes. Although high
frequency (HF) single sideband (SSB) voice is predominate, RATT, VHF,
PACKET, and even slow scan TV nets.
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