MARS to Assist with Republican, Democratic National Conventions
The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has requested Army MARS support for the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in St Paul. "I find it hard to imagine a more challenging security operation than the upcoming Democratic and Republican National Conventions," said Army MARS Chief Stu Carter. "These climactic events, the first in Denver next week and the other a week later in Minneapolis, will gather hundreds of America's top leaders who will be exposed continuously to milling crowds of thousands. Just the thought of protecting all the converging aircraft and congested terminals is daunting enough for public safety planners."
Calling it "an awesome opportunity for MARS," Carter said that Mike Barrett, K3MMB/AAA9TS, is the Army MARS liaison at TSA headquarters. "He's a career IT specialist, the last 28 years in federal service and a TSA staffer from that agency's beginning. He joined Army MARS in 2004. When [Hurricane] Katrina struck a year later, it was Mike Barrett who initiated the first TSA-MARS emergency contact, with Texas Army MARS. This week, he has been coordinating support requirements directly with Region 8 for the Democratic Party Convention beginning Monday in Denver, and Region 5 for the Republican Convention on September 1 in Minneapolis."
According to Carter, the TSA's own MARS/Winlink teams are deploying from Tucson and Dallas to operate AAN8DNC with local staffers in Denver; Pensacola and Washington, DC teams will deploy to Minneapolis as AAN5RNC. Carter said that Barrett asked that Army MARS Regions 8 and 5 make resources available to the two convention operations as needed.
Barrett said that he feels "these events will provide valuable lessons learned and excellent training opportunities for the entire tri-MARS force. We therefore request that all other regions stand by for possible support. DHS/TSA will activate all MARS stations within its network in support and for training. Our resources will have direct contact with Department of Justice (DoJ) and FEMA resources, giving the MARS program an opportunity to further enhance the interoperability capabilities of all agencies."