Victor Valley

Amateur Radio Club


P.O. BOX 91
Apple Valley, California U.S.A.

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What is MARS?

The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) is a Department of Defence sponsored program, established as separately managed and operated programs by the Army and Air Force. MARS members are volunteer licensed amateur radio operators who are interested in providing auxiliary or emergency communications to local, national and international emergency and safety organizations, as an adjunct to normal communications.
The primary concept of MARS is to meet the requirements of training for any communications emergency. To this end, organization, methods and facilities must be adequate to meet any emergency requirements and must be flexible in order to provide for rapid expansion. Normal methods must be such that only minor changes will be required when shifting to an emergency status.

Army MARS at a Glance

The two MARS branches share the common task of mobilizing amateur radio to reconnect government agencies when disaster disrupts normal communications. Army MARS is unique in two respects. It was the first, dating back to 1925. And its primary area of operations is the land domain, which is where Army and National Guard units are traditional first uniformed responders to calamity, natural or manmade.

Since late 2012 members have been training to operate a dedicated contingency traffic net for the Department of Defense joint command (Army-Navy-Air Force) responsible for all-risk defense of the homeland. This is in addition to the longstanding system of interlinked region and state nets ready to back up government agencies and military units on DSCA (Defense Support for Civil Authorities) deployment.
To coordinate and implement DSCA, a "Defense Coordinating Officer" and staff are stationed at each FEMA regional headquarters by U.S. Army North (Fort Sam Houston, Tex.). Army North's primary mission is to "execute DoD's homeland defense and civil support operations in the land domain." Administratively, Army MARS is a unit of NETCOM (The Network Enterprise T echnology Command), which operates the Army's IT and communications systems worldwide.

If you have an interest in joining the Army Military Auxiliary Radio System, please email:


The Mission of the MARS system is to:

  • provide auxiliary communications for military, federal and local disaster management officials during periods of emergency or while conducting drills in emergency procedures.

  • assist in effecting normal communications under emergency conditions.

  • create interest and furnish a means of training members in military communications procedures and provide a potential reserve of trained communications personnel.

  • handle morale and quasi-official message and voice communications traffic for members of the Armed Forces and authorized U.S. Government civilian personnel stationed throughout the world.

  • provide, during daily routine operations, a method of exchanging MARSGRAMS and two-way telephone contacts between service personnel and their families back home. In carrying out this assignment, MARS operates a 24-hour message relay system and maintains a series of electronic mailboxes throughout the world.

  • conduct daily traffic and training nets, drills and critiques to train operators and test the systems readiness to handle demands during an emergency.

Benefits of Membership in MARS

  • Add to the enjoyment of your amateur radio hobby through the expanded horizon of MARS

  • Become part of the Army or Air Force MARS worldwide communications system. There are MARS stations in Japan, Korea, the Trust Territories, Hawaii, Panama, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Central America, Alaska, Germany, Africa and the continental United States.

  • Increase your communications skills and capabilities. Selected correspondence courses are available free to MARS members, from their respective Auxiliary service, after completion of six months active membership.

  • Operate on specially assigned military radio frequencies in SSB, SSTV and various Digital modes of communications.

  • Join a group of dedicated fellow radio amateurs participating in meaningful public service.

  • Auxiliary with the service branch of your choice and become part of the professional military communications family, contributing to the preparedness of the nation.

  • Gain a feeling of being associated with a military mission and contributing to the welfare of personnel assigned to duties world-wide

  • Participate in regulated, disciplined radio nets with structured lines of organization and very specific operating rules.

  • Participate in the MARS Excess/Surplus Equipment Program after six months active membership. Issue of equipment is based on availability of equipment and the possible assigned mission of an individual activity. (The granting of MARS membership to an individual or activity does not in itself convey an automatic right or entitlement of the recipient to receive or demand MARS property).