United States Army
Military Auxiliary Radio System

What is MARS?

The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) is an organization of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensed Amateur Radio Operators who are interested in military communications and electronics. The three MARS organizations are sponsored by commands in the three services -- Army, Air Force, and Navy. MARS provides a potential reserve of trained radio communications personnel to provide auxiliary communications for military, civil, and/or disaster officials during periods of emergency and provides Department of Defense sponsored emergency communications on a local, national, and international basis as an adjunct to normal communications.

MARS provides a volunteer manned communications system for handling MARS administrative traffic, morale and quasi-official record and voice communications traffic for U. S. Armed Forces and authorized U. S. government civilian personnel stationed throughout the world. Finally, it offers training designed to stimulate interest in military communications and electronics career fields.

Army MARS is sponsored by the United States Army Signal Command (USASC) and is considered to be an integral part of that command structure. Army MARS is dedicated to the mission of emergency support and the mission of health and welfare communications support for military personnel and their loved ones.

Join Army MARS and you:
1.  Add to the enjoyment of your Amateur Radio hobby through the expanded
    horizon of Army MARS.
2.  Become part of the Army MARS world-wide communications system.  There 
    are Army MARS stations in Japan, Korea, Panama, the Virgin Islands, 
    Puerto Rico, Germany, and, of course, each of the United States.
3.  Increase your communications skills and capabilities.   Learn more 
    about your hobby. Extension courses in communications-electronics 
    subjects are free to all Army MARS members.
4.  Operate and experiment on specially assigned military radio 
    frequencies in voice and digital modes of communications.
5.  Join a group of dedicated fellow radio amateurs participating in 
    meaningful public service.
6.  Affiliate with the United States Army and become part of the 
    professional military communications family.
MARS is "Official"

The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) is an official Department of Defense and Department of the Army sponsored communications system. Therefore, it has official status, is assigned missions and functions, and authorized the use of assigned military radio frequencies.

Army MARS is directed and managed by the Department of the Army through the United States Army Information Systems Command and is a world-wide organization. It is comprised of both military and civilian personnel. In fact, the majority are civilian volunteers. Each volunteer Army MARS member is required to hold a valid Amateur Radio license from the Federal Communications Commission. These volunteers are under no service obligation, but must meet a 12-hour per calendar quarter minimum participation requirement. A volunteer may resign from Army MARS at any time without difficulty or prejudice by simply submitting a written resignation.

MARS History - A Service to the Nation

In November, 1925, the Army Amateur Radio System (AARS) was initiated by a few dedicated pioneers in the United States Army Signal Corps led by Capt. Thomas C. Rives. His original intention was to enlist the talents of volunteer Amateur Radio operators as a source to train soldiers in the then new technology of radio as well as pursuing radio research and development to improve radio equipment within the Army. His efforts were very successful.

This organization continued until the United States entry into World War II, at which time radio Amateurs were denied the use of the air. Therefore, the activities of AARS, as it was known, were suspended until 1946 when, once again, AARS was allowed to go back on the air. During the years 1925 through 1942, the AARS functioned more or less as an extra curricular activity of the U. S. Army Signal Corps, its scope being necessarily limited by the meager budget of the pre-World War II depression years. The best available figures indicate that as of the 7th of December, 1941, there were approximately 60,000 FCC licensed Amateurs within the United States and its possessions.

Some 5600 of those Amateurs were members of the AARS. About 20% of the pre-World War II AARS members eventually entered the service of their country either in the Army or in a civilian capacity. The U. S. Army recognized the great importance of reactivating the AARS to train vitally needed communications personnel at a relatively inexpensive direct cost to the U. S. government. Therefore, in 1946, the AARS was reactivated and functioned as such until the creation of the Military Amateur Radio System in 1948, later renamed the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) with Army MARS and the newly formed Air Force MARS reflecting the creation of the Air Force as a separate service. In early 1963, the Navy-Marine Corps MARS was established.

MARS has grown in all of the services throughout the world. They rely on our civilian and military MARS members to be available in case of emergency or disaster to provide communications support. At such times, they need all of the support MARS can provide. Amateur Radio collectively with MARS has made its mark in American history. Each year provides new evidence of the important role Amateur Radio with MARS plays in the service of the nation.

Eligibility to Join MARS
The applicant must:
        be 17 years of age or older.
        be a United States citizen or resident alien.
        hold an Amateur Radio station license issued by the Federal
          Communications Commission. 

MARS has certain eligibility participation requirements such as maintaining a minimum of 12 hours participation time each calendar quarter and keeping MARS officials updated on the status of station and changes of address.

When You Join MARS:

You are issued a MARS station license and Army MARS call sign. The station license expires on the same date as your FCC Amateur Radio Station license or when revoked for any reason. Upon acceptance, you are provided a manual on MARS communications operation procedures, message forms, logs, and other material needed for operation of your station. The manual, being U. S. Army property, must be returned if you leave the Army MARS program.

You will also receive an Army MARS Basic Training manual which you will study for the completion of an open book test on its contents. This is an excellent guide for operating your Army MARS station.

What are Army MARS Frequencies?

Frequencies used in the Army MARS program are those assigned by the Joint Frequency Panel from U. S. government frequencies allotted to the military services. Frequencies are assigned to MARS throughout the High Frequency (HF) spectrum and selected frequencies in the VHF band. Because Amateur Radio equipment is limited to operation in the Amateur bands, minor modifications are needed to work the MARS frequencies. Many MARS frequencies lie close to the Amateur bands but never inside the Amateur frequencies.

How To Join Army MARS

You may join Army MARS by contacting any MARS member who can then guide you to acquisition of the proper applications or you may contact the following MARS Representative:

Barry Jackson, AAA4KY (State Army MARS Director for Kentucky)
525 Circle Drive
Maysville, Ky. 41056


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