MARS Invites ARES/RACES Participation in Coronal Mass Ejection Disaster Exercise

You can directly participate, or use it as a communications monitoring exercise.  Don’t forget about the Intelligence Forms for Monitoring and Intercept located in the Forms page under the Communications Resources Tab:


START:  Sunday, 08 Nov 2015 @ 1100hrs Zulu

END:    Wednesday, 10 Nov 2015 @ 2200hrs Zulu

Check the details below for state-specific ARES correspondence.  There seems to be some discrepancies with groups announcing Saturday, while the ‘official’ start date is listed as Sunday, November 8th.  Your local ARES group may be doing something a bit differently.

MARS Invites Amateur Radio Participation in Coronal Mass Ejection Disaster Exercise

A disastrous coronal mass ejection (CME) will be the focus of a national Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) communication exercise in early November, and MARS is hoping to collaborate with Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) groups. The MARS exercise will get under way on November 8 and continue into November 10. It will be a quarterly contingency HF exercise in support of the US Department of Defense.

“The exercise scenario will simulate a CME event and focus on actions that radio operators should take prior to and following a CME event,” explained Army MARS Program Manager Paul English, WD8DBY. “One thing we want to continue to work on is the interface with the greater Amateur Radio community.”

CMEs are huge explosions of gas, plasma, and electromagnetic radiation from the Sun, which are responsible for geomagnetic storms. Solar flares can accompany CMEs, but they are not the same thing. A CME can take anywhere from 1 day to 3 days to reach Earth. CMEs occur all the time, but most bypass Earth with minor effects. A major CME that hits Earth directly could damage or destroy satellites as well as terrestrial communication and electrical power infrastructure.

English said the November exercise would simulate a radio blackout as well as infrastructure damage. “During the exercise, we will simulate the blackout with a 3 hour pause, and then we will bring stations back on air and begin handling requests for information,” he told ARRL

Training objectives for this exercise will include understanding what a CME is and how much forecast lead time can be expected; the effects associated with a CME, and what precautions radio operators take to protect their equipment prior to a severe CME.

After the simulated CME, operators will assess its effects and begin reporting that information. This will involve “interoperation with Amateur Radio operators and groups to assist in assessment.”

Individual radio amateurs as well as ARES and RACES teams are encouraged to participate in this exercise. Contact MARS and provide your contact information, if your organization is interested.

Specific Information I’ve received, by state, including Idaho, Utah, and Virginia.  These are where ARES frequencies are listed that will be used for the exercise. 

To learn what frequencies might be used in your state, refer to the downloadable PDF (which should be printed and in your binder):

ARES/RACES Multiple State Frequency List



The following District 3 Frequency Plan will be available:

HF Voice
3.879 MHz /LSB (Primary); 3.965 MHz /LSB (Secondary)
7.194 MHz /LSB (Primary); 7.258 MHz /LSB (Secondary)

146.940 /pl 100, 443.300 /pl 110.9, 145.310 / pl 100 >>all linked

Area Simplex: 147.470 (primary), 147.450 (W Treasure Valley), 147.430
(E Treasure Valley) County Simplex: 146.410 (Ada Co), 146.430 (Adams Co), 146.470 (Boise
Co), 146.510 (Canyon Co), 146.550 (Elmore Co), 146.490 (Gem Co),
146.550 (Payette Co), 146.430 (Owyhee Co), 147.530 (Valley Co),
147.550 (Washington Co), 446.600 / 146.440 (Ada Co Emergency).

Amateur final relays to this station from N7BVX

Exercise Timeline for District 3:

1500Z - 1530Z: Reports over Simplex and Repeaters
1530Z - 1600Z: Relays to Liaison /N7BVX
1600Z - (as long as needed) Relays from N7BVX to this station.

Good Morning Folks,

Here is a list of questions that many of the Amateurs have concerning the Joint Amateur/MARS ECOMEX:

*  In what time frame does the complete exercise occur?

As an overview, the complete MARS Exercise begins on Nov 7th @ 4 A.M. MST and goes through Nov 10th 3 P.M.MST.

*  When does the Amateur/MARS part of the COMEX take place?

The Joint Amateur/MARS part of the exercise begins at 5 A.M. MST on Sunday Nov 8th. The end time has not been defined. However to give ample time for moving the traffic back onto the MARS Network, we have determined that 12 Noon MST is a target time to have collected the Request 

For Information. If you can’t make it by 12 Noon check in as soon as you can. Hopefully one of the liaisons will be listening.
*  What is an RI?

An RI is a request for information. It will come from up the MARS chain of command. The RI will initiate the requested information from MARS HQ and DOD. It will define the information they want to collect from over 3000 counties in the United States should define the latest time for information to be gathered.
* What is the information they will request?

They will ask for the following 7 items of information:

1. Do you have Power: Y/N

2. Do you have Water: Y/N

3. Do you have Sanitation: Y/N

4. Do you have Medical: Y/N

5. Do you have Communications: Y/N

6. Do you have Transportation: Y/N

7. The Source (Amateur Radio) assumed 

For the purpose of this exercise we are to only collect ACTUAL REAL TIME information, not simulated. So in reality if everything is normal, the answers would all be yes to

all the questions. The object of the exercise is to touch every county possible using amateur support.
*  How much time do do I need to spend?

Once you touch bases with the liaison and answer the questions, your part is done.  At your discretion, You can continue to monitor the frequencies and see what is going on and relay info if needed. There probably won’t be a lot of activity, but the liaison should be listening and make a call for information periodically.
* What are the frequencies and can we use cellphones and the internet?

Very good question. No….  The cellphone system will be consider to be toast. We are not to use cellphones, telephones, internet or store and forward devices, like packet radio or BBSs.

Here are the frequencies. The frequencies may be updated to include Western and Northern Idaho, but for now these are the frequencies we are using in Eastern Idaho:

VHF = 146.520 – simplex

UHF = 447.620 – offset 88.5Hz tone (repeaters are exempt)

The UHF repeater has very wide coverage from Burly/Twin Falls to Ashton.

HF Voice = 3929.0 LSB

HF Digital = 3581.0 USB centered on 1500Hz on the waterfall (Eastern ID)

HF Digital = 3578.5 USB Centered on 1500Hz on the waterfall (Western ID)

Either digital frequency can be used. The liaison can take your data no matter which one is on frequency.  Digital makes it easy to send a message.

I prefer using fldigi with flamp 99.99% error free.  If you call one one freq and here no one, try them all.
Thank you all for your interest and support of the ECOMEX.


AmRRON operators in Utah with HF capability should listen in to the Utah Beehive Net which runs daily on 7.272Mhz LSB at 12:30PM MST (that’s 1930 Zulu).  Also, monitor any local VHF nets for additional SIGINT.

Thus just came through the wire.  A good monitoring exercise. 

ARES – Virginia Section participating in MARS COMEX 7-8 NOV.

The Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) for ARES/RACES of Virginia
invites all members and interested amateur radio license holders to
participate in a joint Communications Exercise (COMEX) with the
Virginia Military Affiliate Radio Service (MARS) 
7-8 NOV 2015.  This is
an interesting challenge and a rare opportunity to work with MARS on a
large scale exercise. Please encourage participation within your

The expectation is to use local repeaters and 3947 KHZ (ODEN/A) as
primary vehicles for this effort.  It may be likely that we’ll try
3578.5 KHZ (ODEN/D digital frequency), as well.   This portion of the
exercise is an adjunct to the MARS activities associated with this
exercise, so also expect that inquiries will be sporadic in timing.
MARS intends to leverage existing, known net operations for the bulk of
interactions with hams, but members will be encouraged to hit their
local repeaters on an informal basis, as well.
Any local VHF/UHF channel or HF frequency can be used to send
county-level situation reports. However, the use of D-Star, Echolink or
any other internet-reliant systems are prohibited from this exercise as
they most likely would not work if this scenario were to actually

For each county, the MARS contact will request:
– your state/county name
– the status of the following services: power, water, sanitation,
medical, communications, and transportation
For more information about MARS COMEX
If you are interested in participating, please e-mail Bob as soon as
Robert M. Forrest III, WO4MI  –  E-mail:
Executive Officer, VA-WV Army Military Auxiliary Radio System, Luray,
To identify/contact your local ARES EC, please check the map on the web site.  If you do not have an Emergency
Coordinator for your county, please contact the appropriate District
Emergency Coordinator.