EmComm Training Opportunities

There’s a couple EmComm training opportunities that have come up that might be of interest to everyone.

First is that the training schedule for WX1BOX SKYWARN has recently been published.  First come, first serve on class reservations, and many classes have already been filled.  This training is highly recommended to anyone interested in being a SKYWARN Weather Spotter.  The class is free.


Second is that the ARRL recently started revamping its Basic and Advanced Amateur Radio EmComm courses.  The basic course is now available.  It is recommended to anyone getting involved with ARES, RACES or any other amateur radio emergency service.  It’s also recommended for those that wish to volunteer in public service events like supporting triathlons, parades, etc.  The course is free with your ARRL membership.  You do not need to retake this new course if you’ve previously taken the prior basic course.


If you have any questions on these, feel free to send them to your local ARES DEC or EC, SEC WS1L or myself.

Thanks and 73,
Gil Hayes WK1H
Assistant SEC, WMA ARES

Western Massachusetts Amateur Radio Emergency Service to hold annual emergency test

UPDATE 10/15 08:51 AM: ICS form download updated to version 3.

The Western Massachusetts section of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service will hold their 2023 Simulated Emergency Test from 10:00 AM local time on Saturday, 21 October to 10:00 AM local time on Sunday, 22 October 2023.  This test will involve ARES members attempting to receive and report airport weather information to the Department of Defense via the US Army Military Affiliate Radio System.  

The Simulated Emergency Test (SET) Situation is as follows:

“Repeated patterns of wet weather have been experienced throughout the Western Massachusetts section, leaving soils saturated and incapable of absorbing additional rainfall.  Several instances of flooding have already led to road washouts impacting the transportation sector.
The first arctic cold front of the season approaches with a large pressure differential producing a sudden onset of high winds.  With root systems already weakened in soft soil, large numbers of trees are felled throughout the section.  Multiple roads become impassible.  Wire and cable damage has lead to degradation of the Public Switched Telephone and cellular networks.  Calls placed without GETS/WPS are taking up to one hour to complete.
Resource requests for high priority items are ready to transport via air to local airports but with no ability to receive local weather conditions at those airports ARES has been tasked with reporting local airport weather information.”

The ARES Mission for the SET is as follows:

“WMA ARES members will attempt to receive local airport weather information broadcast on the VHF-AM Aviation Band of 119-136 MHz.  Any weather reports received will be transcribed for later reporting.  WMA ARES members will report the information received during ARES nets to be held within the 24-hour exercise period.  US Army MARS stations will attempt to check in to these nets and receive these reports.  Reports may also be sent via WinLink.”

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment, with their local ARES leadership, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes.  For more information, visit wma.arrl.org.

Important Exercise Documents for Download

Department of Defense Zoominar for Communications Exercise, April 21, 2022

Tom Kinahan writes:

On Thursday 21 April at 8 pm ET representatives from the US Army Network Enterprise Technology Command will give an unclassified presentation to review the concept of the upcoming DoD Exercise 22-2 which will take place from 2-7 May.

Army representatives will briefly describe the concept of the exercise and how amateurs and Auxiliary communications personnel can participate in this training event.

Zoom info:


For more information connect to:


Tom Kinahan

US Army Military Auxiliary Radio System
Region One Director
aaa1rd at usamars.us

ARMY MARS to reach out to Amateur Stations for Reception Reports

Due to current events, the BBC has resumed shortwave broadcasts into Ukraine and Russia. In order to improve Amateur to MARS communications, MARS stations will be requesting to see if amateur stations can provide a reception report for these BBC transmissions.

The BBC broadcasts are :

Frequency English Broadcast

15730 KHz 1300-1500Z

5875 KHz 2000-2200Z

The request is to see if you can hear any of these daily broadcasts, and get your report to a MARS station near you. MARS stations for their part will be reaching out on normal amateur frequencies, using their amateur callsigns. You will be asked for your callsign a signal report, time and frequency of the report, and your city and state.

The signal report can take the form of: Good Readable, Readable, Poor, Unreadable. If you listened, but didn’t hear anything, we want to know that with an Unreadable report.The end result will be for stations to learn if their stations can receive these international broadcasts, to indicate a possible need for station improvement.

The exercise will last through March 25, but if you have gathered some reports, please don’t lose them, and send them after that time, to me by email, if you were unable to identify a local ARMY MARS station.Let’s have some fun with this!

Thanks for your support.

Tom Kinahan

US Army Military Auxiliary Radio System

Region One Director


Amateur Radio and AUXCOM Support to the Department of Defense

ARRL will present a webinar on the evening of Thursday February 17 at 8pm ET (0100Z Feb 18) on Amateur Radio and AUXCOM support to the Department of Defense.

Use this zoom link to attend:

Check out the ARRL link below for more detail:


This webinar will coincide with the start of MARS Exercise 22-1, which should provide opportunity to practice these skills.

Tom Kinahan
US Army Military Auxiliary Radio System
Region One Director

MARS / Amateur Interoperability Nets Starting This Week

Starting this week, on April 7 and for the first week of every month going forward, US Army Auxiliary Radio System members will conduct nets on 60 meters channel 1 (5.3305 MHz) with the goal of exercising the mission of MARS to Amateur interoperation.

These Nets will start at 8pm local time on April 7, for one hour and will repeat on Friday April 9 and be run by MARS Stations in Region One. On April 8 and 10 at 8pm ET the nets will be run by MARS stations in Region 2 and 4, but also encourage Amateur Radio check ins.

In addition, on Thursday April 8, Friday April 9 and Saturday April 10, nets will be conducted at noon ET, with NCS in New England.

All amateur stations with 60 meter capability and the time are asked to check in and participate in these nets. The goal of these nets is to train MARS stations with Amateur Radio stations on 60 meter channels. Initially, these nets will just involve check ins, but over time, we will practice ICS-213 messages on these nets in both voice and digital methods. The nets will last 1 hour.

Net TimeWednesday April 7Thursday April 8Friday April 9Saturday April 10
Noon localNo NetMARS /Amateur Interop NetMARS /Amateur Interop NetMARS /Amateur Interop Net
8pm LocalMARS /Amateur Interop NetNCS Region 2MARS /Amateur Interop NetNCS Region 2

These Nets will repeat in the first week of each month.

If you have questions, please let me know.

Tom Kinahan

U.S. Army Military Auxiliary Radio System

Region One Director


Department of Defense Exercise With Amateur Radio Participation, October 2020

As written by Tom Kinahan N1CPE and posted on the NE Division website:

For almost the whole month of October, (now through October 26) the Department of Defense is conducting a series of exercises that will train the connection of MARS members to the Amateur Radio Service.

There are opportunities for hams to participate in this exercise.

1) Every day at noon local time, there will be a net on 60 meters channel 1 (5.3305 MHz USB) to have checkins from hams. The NCS will ask for your callsign, city and state. As the month moves on, there may be other unplanned requests.

2) Familiarize yourself with the METAR which is transmitted on VHF AM from all major and some less major airports as weather information for pilots. See if you can transcribe the weather information. They speak fast, and usually in mumbles. This is valuable information to the DoD in times of communication outage. Contact me for additional details.

3) There will be ICS-213 messages originating in MARS for certain ARRL and other local ham radio leaders refiled into the NTS system for delivery. NTS nets may carry these messages. Be ready to copy these messages and deliver them, by checking in to your local NTS net.

If you have any questions, please let me know!


[Tom Kinahan is the Army MARS Region 1 Executive Officer. He can be contacted at: tom.kinahan@verizon.net]

MARS Announces HF Skills Exercise

As part of a Nationwide HF Skills Exercise for MARS Members and Amateur Radio Operators the Chief of ARMY MARS and the Chief of Air force MARS have announced an exercise for July 20-24, 2020.

Amateur Radio Operators are encouraged to participate in Daily 60 Meter Nets on Channel 1 (5330.5 KHz USB Dial) at 1200 and 2000 local times (Noon and 8pm Eastern time).

Amateur Radio stations will be asked for real life Infrastructure failure issues, and possibly other information to be relayed to MARS stations on that channel. Reports of no issues are just as important as reports of any issues. Be prepared to provide information to help the MARS station determine your FIPS code. Your Zip code is the easiest way to communicate that.

Please join us, and have some fun!

See the ARRL Website story on this for more details:

Tom Kinahan N1CPE
ARMY MARS Region One Executive Officer-Software/Automation Officer

MARS Thanks Amateur Radio Operators for their support of MARS Exercise 19-4

Tom Kinahan N1CPE of Army MARS writes:

Thank you to all of the Amateur radio operators who supported and participated in Exercise 19-4. Below is a message from ARMY MARS headquarters that I have been asked to relay:

P 181700Z NOV 2019

GENTEXT/REMARKS/Effective 18 NOV 2359Z, COMEX 19-4 is concluded. Complete all pending actions, recall all personnel and recover/rehab equipment. MARS members, please remind each other to complete the After Action Survey at www.dodmars.org and pass this message along to your partners in the Amateur Radio Service (ARS) along with our thanks for their support.

The -19 Series of exercises intentionally provided opportunities for MARS leaders and members to adapt to new situations with increasing complexity and unknown variables. You were presented with a variety of new tasks, information products, and coordination requirements. Anticipating conditions in a real incident, you were not read-in-to new requirements prior to the exercise. With no time to train up we required you to adapt existing Tactics, Techniques and Procedures. We continue to see more resilience when you are faced with uncertainty. Expect more challenges from us in 2020.

Looking into 2020, we ask all MARS members and ARS operators to continue working on long term emergency power capabilities, long distance HF radio capabilities, and building one-on-one relationships in your community. Continue to shift normal operations from day-time to night time hours. Amatuers and MARS members operating in the ARS are encouraged to continue practicing using the MIL-188-110 Serial PSK mode on the 60 Meters channels where it is permitted. This mode is important because it provides a means of digital interoperability with government stations that are not able to use ARS digital modes.

Thank you for all your good work in COMEX 19-4, and enjoy a well deserved rest over the holiday season.//


MARS Exercise Continued Instructions for November 16

Tom Kinahan N1CPE of Army MARS has issued new instructions for the on-going MARS exercise.  On November 16, 2019 at 10:00 PM EST or (17 NOV 2019) 0300Z will be the 60 Meter broadcast on channel 1 (5330.5 kHz) in voice and digital M110A from Department of Defense stations.

If you have this capability, check it out, and follow the directions contained in the message (probably to report reception).

This is part of a method for Department of Defense to communicate directly with Amateur Radio stations for broadcast and 2-way information exchange.

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