Preparations are nearly in place for the previously announced Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) coronal mass ejection (CME) disaster communication exercise, which will take place Saturday through Tuesday, November 7-10. Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) groups are expected to participate in the quarterly contingency HF exercise in support of the US Department of Defense.
“We are looking forward to this exercise and the opportunity to partner and train with the larger Amateur Radio community,” Army MARS Program Manager Paul English, WD8DBY, told ARRL. The exercise scenario will simulate a CME event and focus on actions that radio operators should take prior to and following such an event, which could impact HF propagation. English said leaders from Army and Air Force MARS will hold a final exercise coordination teleconference on October 28 “to answer any final questions about the exercise and make sure everyone is ready to train.”
English said he’s responded to some 90 inquiries from ARES and RACES groups as well as from individuals who would like to involve their ARES teams, and he expects about 50 ARES/RACES-affiliated organizations to participate. He said a few additional active duty military units also hope to take part in the exercise.
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. Following the simulated CME, operators will assess its effects and report that information. This will involve “inter-operation with Amateur Radio operators and groups to assist in assessment,” English said.
ARES and RACES teams, as well as individual radio amateurs, wishing to participate in this exercise may contact MARS and provide contact information.