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House Armed Services Committee "Urges" MARS Coordination

05/30/2012

On May 18, the US House of Representatives approved HR 4310, The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. This bill authorizes appropriations for military activities and prescribes military personnel strengths for Fiscal Year 2013. When the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) sent the bill to the House, it included language in support of the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) and called for the three MARS branches -- Army, Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps -- to be brought under one umbrella. (Editor’s note: For a full text of the HASC’s report, click here. The MARS section begins on page 222).

“The Committee appreciates the important role played in support of the Department of Defense (DOD) and the armed forces by volunteer and Amateur Radio operators who comprise the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS). Under Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) 4650.02, MARS provides contingency radio communications support to US Government operations. The committee understands that use by MARS of high-frequency (HF) radio to convey situational awareness and information in the event of natural or man-made disaster provides an important back-up to more technologically sophisticated communications systems that can be disrupted or destroyed as a result of unanticipated failures or deliberate hostile actions.

“DODI 4650.02 places policy oversight for MARS within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration/DOD Chief Information Officer (ASD(NII)/DoD CIO). However, since NII has been disestablished, the Committee is concerned that oversight of the MARS program is unclear, and that there is a lack of standardization in policies, processes and procedures among the three MARS branches within the Army, Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps, since MARS is independently managed within each service. As such, the committee encourages the Department to clarify and maintain policy oversight of MARS within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and to update DoDI 4650.02 with respect to the disestablisment of NII. Further, the committee urges the Department to appoint an individual manager with authority and responsibility for coordination of MARS policies and activities across each of the three MARS branches and within the Department to ensure holistic policy oversight of the MARS program. The committee also encourages the service secretaries and the geographic combatant commanders to integrate MARS more fully into their operational planning and activities, in accordance with the guidance and direction outlined in DoDI 4650.02.”  -- Thanks to Virginia State MARS Director David Trachtenberg, N4WWL/AFA3TR, for bringing this to our attention



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