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 telconference on Wednesday, 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 want to take part in the exercise.
English said the November 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 “interoperation 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.
TO FULFILL DOD INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS.
B. (U) CONCEPT OF OPERATIONS
(U) THIS COMMEX IS DESIGNED TO EXERCISE TASKS THAT WOULD NORMALLY
OCCUR FOR A PERIOD OF TIME OF SEVERAL DAYS OR LONGER. HOWEVER, THE
COMMEX IS CONDUCTED OVER A COMPRESSED TIME PERIOD. THIS IS A
HIGH PRIORITY ACTIVITY AND ALL MARS ASSETS AVAILABLE TO TRAIN
SHOULD PARTICIPATE IN THIS COMMEX.
(1) (U) NOTIFICATION PHASE
(U) THE TIME PERIOD 071200Z THROUGH 080900Z NOV 2015 IS THE
NOTIFICATION PHASE OF THE COMMEX.
(U) AT 071200Z NOV 2015 ALL MARS STATIONS WILL SIMULATE A
GROWING AWARENESS OF A NOTIONAL CME AND GEOMAGNETIC STORM
CONSIDERED LIKELY TO HIT EARTH AS DISCUSSED ON NOTIONAL
SOCIAL MEDIA AND NEWS NETWORKS. THE GROWING CONSENSUS
IS THIS CME IS LIKELY TO BE OF A CATASTROPHIC MAGNITUDE.
(U) DURING THIS PHASE, STATE MARS DIRECTORS AND STAFF SHOULD
PREPARE MARS STATIONS FOR A POTENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS
DISRUPTION AND SOCIALIZE TECHNIQUES WITH THEIR SUBORDINATES TO
PROTECT RADIO AND COMPUTER EQUIPMENT. ADDITIONALLY, AMARS
STATE CIVIL AFFAIRS OFFICERS AND AFMARS STATE EMERGENCY
COORDINATORS SHOULD WORK TOGETHER TO BEGIN COORDINATION
ACTIVITIES WITH LOCAL AMATEUR ORGANIZATIONS. REGION MARS
DIRECTORS AND OPERATIONS STAFF SHOULD PREPARE FOR PERIODS
OF HIGH INTENSITY AND SUSTAINED NETWORK OPERATIONS. MARS
MEMBERS SHOULD MAINTAIN EMAIL AND TELEPHONE CONTACT WITH
THEIR STATE MARS STAFF, CHECK INTO REGULARLY SCHEDULED
MARS NETS, CHECK AND TEST EQUIPMENT, SOFTWARE AND
REFERENCE INFORMATION TO ENSURE THEY ARE UP TO DATE AND
OPERATIONAL IN ALL AREAS.
(U) AT 080001Z NOV 2015 G2 SOURCES WILL NOTIFY MARS OF AN
IMPENDING CME. DOD WILL DIRECT MARS PROGRAMS TO IMPLEMENT A
POSTURE TO ENSURE SURVIVALABILITY OF THEIR INDIVIDUAL STATIONS,
DISCONNECT RADIO AND COMPUTER EQUIPMENT FROM ALL WIRING BETWEEN
THE HOURS OF 080900Z THROUGH 081200Z NOV 2015. MARS MEMBERS
WILL BE NOTIFIED OF POTENTIAL REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION FOLLOWING
CME IMPACT. MARS STATIONS SHOULD COMMUNICATE INFORMATION
RELEVANT TO PROTECTING EQUIPMENT FROM THE EFFECTS OF THE
GEOMAGNETIC STORM TO ALL MARS MEMBERS AND FINALIZE PREPARATIONS
(2) (U) GEOMAGNETIC STORM PHASE
(U) BETWEEN 080900Z THROUGH 081200Z NOV 2015 THE NOTIONAL GEOMAGNETIC
STORM WILL OCCUR. ALL MARS STATIONS RADIO AND COMPUTER
EQUIPMENT SHALL BE PHYSICALLY DISCONNECTED FROM ANTENNAS, POWER
MAINS, AND INTERCONNECT WIRING IN A MANNER THAT PROVIDES THE
BEST PROTECTION FROM THE EFFECTS OF THE GEOMAGNETIC STORM.
(U) NO EXERCISE RADIO OPERATIONS WILL BE CONDUCTED DURING THE
GEOMAGNETIC STORM PHASE.
(3) (U) POST GEOMAGNETIC STORM PHASE / HIGH INTENSITY NETWORK
(U) AT 081200Z NOV 2015 MARS STATIONS WILL OBSERVE NOTIONAL LOSS OF
ELECTRICAL POWER, TELECOMMUNICATIONS, AND CYBERSPACE AS A RESULT
OF THE NOTIONAL GEOMAGNETIC STORM. BASED ON THESE NOTIONAL
TRIGGER EVENTS, MARS STATIONS SHALL TAKE INDIVIDUAL ACTION THAT
COLLECTIVELY ACTIVATES HF RADIO NETWORKS AT ALL LEVELS.
COMSPOT REPORTS SHALL BE GENERATED AT EACH LEVEL AND SENT TO
(U) SHORTLY AFTER 081200Z NOV 2015, A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION FOR
COUNTY MESSAGES WILL BE FORWARDED TO MARS. MARS STATIONS
IN EACH COUNTY OR ADJACENT OR NEARBY COUNTIES WILL COMPLETE
COUNTY MESSAGES AS TASKED.
(U) MARS MEMBERS, USING THEIR AMATEUR RADIO LICENSE, SHALL CONTACT
AMATEUR RADIO STATIONS AND CONVERSE WITH AMATEUR OPERATORS TO
OBTAIN THE INFORMATION VARIABLES NECESSARY TO COMPLETE THE COUNTY
REPORTS. MARS STATIONS SHOULD NOT EXPECT AMATEUR STATIONS TO
KNOW FIPS COUNTY CODES OR THE COUNTY MESSAGE FORMAT. BECAUSE
EXERCISING THE MARS/AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE INTERFACE IS A PRIMARY
OBJECTIVE OF THIS COMMEX, MARS STATIONS SHOULD OFFER LOCAL AMATEUR
STATIONS EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO TRAIN IN THIS COMMEX TO INCLUDE TAKING
DUPLICATE INFORMATION FROM AMATEUR SOURCES WHEN THE INFORMATION
MAY BE AVAILABLE DIRECTLY TO THE MARS STATION.
(U) AMATEUR RADIOS OPERATORS THAT WOULD NORMALLY OPERATE AT A
STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER OR AT
ANOTHER GOVERNMENT OR CIVIL FACILITY DURING AN ACTUAL EVENT OF
THIS TYPE MAY SIMULATE OPERATING FROM THAT FACILITY DURING THIS
COMMEX, AS APPROPRIATE. THE INTENT OF THIS COMMEX IS NOT TO
REQUEST ACTIVATION OF STATE/LOCAL OR CIVIL FACILITIES, RATHER
TO EXERCISE NFORMATION EXCHANGE BETWEEN MARS AND AMATEUR NETWORKS.
(U) IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT ONLY REAL-WORLD INFORMATION IS
COLLECTED. SIMULATED OR NOTIONAL CONDITIONS ARE NOT REPORTED.
IE: IF THE POWER IS REALLY ON, THEN THE REPORT SHALL BE THE
POWER IS ON.