Thursday, May 14, 2015

U.S. Navy-Marine Corps MARS to Phase Out

The US Navy-Marine Corps branch of the Military Auxiliary Radio System is closing down. This quasi-amateur radio service supported the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. The transition is gradual, and will be completed by September 30 of this year. Members are encouraged to apply to the Army or Air Force MARS.

On 12 May, the announcement came in a message passed from Chief, Navy-Marine Corps MARS to all members. Here are some excerpts:

2. Evaluation of the NAVMARCORMARS program by Fleet Cyber Command (FCC)/ Commander 10th Fleet (C10F), Naval Information Domination Forces (NAVIDFOR), and NCTAMS LANT determined that there are no U.S. Navy service unique requirements.

3. NCTAMS LANT will work with other U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Strategic Command, Department Of Homeland Security representatives, and NAVMARCORMARS volunteers to develop a transition plan for NAVMARCORMARS members which meets the requirements of Ref B and Ref C. [Department of Defense plans for MARS and its mission. -Hugh]

4. Current NAVMARCORMARS individual members and clubs are encouraged to begin submission of applications to U.S. Army MARS or U.S. Air Force MARS programs as soon as possible.

5. Additional guidance will also be provided SEPCOR [SEParate CORrespondence -Hugh] for MARS stations under military auspices, agency stations, and individual members who also participate in the DHS Shared Resources (SHARES) HF radio program.
More from ARRL:

One individual who is very familiar with the MARS program said the change was not unexpected and came to a head as the US Strategic Command embraced Army MARS as the lead branch for contingency communication and Air Force MARS began partnering with the US Army program on the operations side.

“The Army and Air Force MARS branches have an obvious role in providing contingency communications for the 50 states,” said the individual, who preferred not to be cited by name. “Members are everywhere ‘on the ground,’ and experience in Afghanistan and Iraq has proven the tactical usefulness of HF on land. There was no similar role for the landlocked membership of Navy-Marine Corps MARS.”

He said the MARS program can use all the volunteers it can attract and hopes the Navy-Marine Corp MARS volunteers will join one of the other MARS branches.

Army MARS has announced that volunteers in good standing can join as full members, without starting over.

Bravo Zulu to Navy-Marine Corps MARS for its many years of service to those who serve.