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Region 8 Training (DRAFT)

Questions and Answers

Regarding AF MARS

1) What is the document used for guidence regarding AF MARS?

A) It is the MARS Operating Directive, Interim Revised Edition, 10 Dec 02, or MOD. Note that this document is not official until approved by Chief, USAF MARS. Per MOD page 2, para 9.

2) Who is Chief AF MARS?

A) Harold R. Collins, GM-13, DAF Chief, USAF MARS. Per MOD page 3. Chief AF MARS is referred to as Mr. Collins his callsign is AGA3C.

3. What is the Mission of AF MARS?

A) The MARS primary mission is to provide DOD-sponsored emergency communications on an international, national and local basis as an addition to normal military communications. Per MOD page 4 para 3.

4) What is the support does AF MARS provide to the Air Force?

A) MARS radio systems will be configured to support worldwide emergency communications for the Air Force. Per MOD page 4, para 4 sub-para a.

5) Can AF MARS support civil agencies?

A) Yes, but MARS radio systems will not be configured specifically to support civil requirements. Per MOD Page 4, para 4 sub-para a.

6) What exactly can AF MARS provide to civil agencies?

A) USAF MARS may provide support to civil disaster agencies when Air Force command authorities have approved and directed the support in accordance with AFR 359-1. Although support to civil agencies is authorized and encouraged, specific capabilities will not be developed by USAF MARS solely to serve civil needs, since other government and civil agencies have this assigned responsibility. Of specific importance is the assistance MARS can provide to civil communities, under the provisions of DOD Directive 3025.1. Tasking and MARS requirements will be defined to support these directives. Per MOD page 5 para 5.

7) As a volunteer with an Amateur Radio License, what type of AF MARS station will you operate?

A) Affiliate Member Station. These are amateur radio stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and approved for MARS membership by the Chief USAF MARS. Per MOD page 5 para 6 sub-para j. Avoid confusing an Affiliate Station with an Auxiliary MARS Station (MOD page 5 para 6 sub-para h).

8) What are the responsibilities of Affiliate Member Stations?


(1) Maintain a copy of USAF MOD. Monitor/copy and maintain a copy of MARS broadcasts.

(2) Comply with the provision of USAF MOD and other Air Force directives governing MARS operations, including MARS broadcasts.

(3) Maintain an operational HF radio station and actively support USAF MARS HF communications requirements.

(4) Participate a minimum of 12 hours each quarter. These 12 hours may be on any established MARS radio net. The member's primary assignment may be to any regularly scheduled HF net by AFCC Form 3661 action.

(5) Maintain, safeguard, and account for excess/surplus government property received from USAF MARS.

(6) Maintain a current amateur license and keep the State MARS Director appraised of all changes that affect membership status (e.g. a change in station location, license level, or station capability).

(7) Give technical help, library maintenance, construction, and experimentation support to the MARS program.

(8) Provide operations, maintenance, or administrative support to Installation MARS Directors, when requested.

(9) Avoid, while operating on MARS frequencies, any deliberate action or conduct that would reflect unfavorably on the individual member or USAF MARS.

(10) Attend and contribute to MARS meetings and conferences.

Per MOD page 7, para 7, sub-para f.

9) Can AF MARS provide support for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP)?

A) Yes, per MOD page 19 though 20.

10) What are the eligibility criteria to serve in the AF MARS program?


a. Minimum age of members is 17 years.

b. Affiliate must be a citizen of the United States, or lawfully admitted to the US. for permanent residency under the provisions of Title 18, United States Code, Chapter 12, and reside within the borders of the US, its territories, or Possessions. Otherwise the member may live in an area under an overseas military command's jurisdiction.

c. Applicants must hold a valid Amateur Radio operator's license issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

d. A prospective member must have an operational HF radio station capable of operating on (or which can be modified to operate on) at least two MARS frequencies, assigned by MARS officials.

11) How many classes of affiliate MARS stations are there?

A). One. Per MOD page 26 para 2.

12) Who is authorized to change training callsigns to a certified operator callsign?

A) RMD (Regional MARS Director). Per MOD page 27 sub-para c.

13) When creating a message, a message number is assigned. When do message numbers start at 1 ?

A) At the beginning of each month. Per MOD page 33 para 4 sub-para a (1).

14) What is the highest precedence message that an affiliate MARS station can use when intiating a personal message?

A) PRIORITY. MOD page 34 para 4 sub-para a 1 (d).

15) What kind of messages are not acceptable for the AF MARS network?


(a) Initial notification of death. Unless specifically addressed to the Red Cross, the Chaplain Service, or Commander, First Sergeant, etc initial notifications of death are not accepted.

(b) Messages in a foreign language. (Exception: Stations with overseas and overseas-to-CONUS operations may use languages other than English on MARS nets under certain conditions. The MARS station must get host-country approval before using another language. The Chief, USAF MARS and the overseas unit station wall maintain a file copy of this concurrence. At least one of the operators handling the traffic must be conversant in the language used. Otherwise, only individual words are allowed, if they're commonly used and understood (e.g. a message shouldn't be refused because the sender ends it with an "Adios".

(c) Encrypted personal message. (Exception: Only military unit stations may originate encrypted messages)

(d) Nonsensical or whimsical messages.

(e) Obscene, derogatory or demeaning messages.

(f) Messages bearing precedences higher than "Priority" (Exception: Military stations).

(g) Business transactions (messages to mail order houses, banks, or to business firms requesting a product or service).

(h) Messages, which in the estimation of the operator, should not be sent via MARS. At military stations, the sender will be referred to the commander or operations officer of the communications unit. An affiliate operator must make this decision him/herself.

Per MOD page 36 para 4 sub-para b (1).

16) What ACP (Allied Communications Procedure) is mentioned regrading service messages?

A). ACP 125. Per MOD page 37, NOTE.

17) With regards to "Z" signals, what does "ZEN" mean?

A). A copy of this message has been sent by some other means. Per MOD page 38. "Q" and "Z" signals are defined in ACP131 (E).


A). This message is a request for MARS authorization and/or support for an emergency situation. This message is sent to the Region MARS Director requesting activation of emergency communications support such as Nets etc. Per MOD page 38.

19) What radiotelephone procedure will be used with regards to TRANSCON voice networks?

A) ACP 125 and USAF MODs. Per MOD page 49, para 4.

20) What is the frequency tolerance of AF MARS equipment?

A) HF equipment should be able to operate within the frequency tolerance of +/- 20 Hz while VHF equipment would be expeected to maintain a telerance standard of +/- 50 Hz. Per MOD page 82, para 7.

21) If you are operating on a AF MARS net from your radio in your automobile, should you suffix your call with "mobile" or "transportable"?

A) NO, not authorized. Chapter 17 Para 5. Procedures , page 71. Note that military and CAP stations may use suffixes such as "Unit 1."

22. If an affiliate member wanted to send out a bulletin to all the Region members, would they be able to do this on their own?

A) No. You must go through the RMD or his assistant. Chapter 19, para 2 page 79. MOD. National level bulletins or broadcasts may be sent only by Chief USAF MARS and those appointed by him (stations with AFN prefixes).

23) If a region has a VHF Packet BBS, does it have to be tied to the HF National Data Network.

A) Yes. Chapter 19, Part 2., page 75 of MOD.

24. If you are assigned a special call sign such as AFF8T (Regional Training Manager), can you also use your affiliate callsign on another net at the same time you are using your Regional Training Manager callsign?

A) No. Per MOD Page 72 Chapter 17,72

25. What does the USAF MARS Selection board do and when do they do it?

A) In October, review qualifications for assignments within the AF Mars for the Chief of AF Mars, send out notices to those selected and those not selected, Per MOD Page 7 Chapter 1, paragraph 8.b,

26. If you have been selected for a assignment and want to be relieved of your assignment, can you do this at any time?

A) Yes and without prejudice, Per MOD page 8 Chapter 1,paragraph 8.g .

27. What functions does the State VHF Coordinator perform?

A) Chapter 2,paragraph 20. Page 15

28) If you hear a callsign of AGCXX, what does this AGC signify?

A. ACGXX would signify Civil Air Patrol Region or Wing (state ) levels only. Chapter 3 paragaph 5, Page 19 MOD.

29) Termination from a Region due to a move, who initiates AF-661 for the member?

A) SMD. Chapter 7, Page 29 MOD.

30) All AF-3661 Forms are stored by "who" and does USAF MARS get a copy?

A) SMD in members personal file. No, not all forms are sent to Chief Mars USAF HQTS. Chapter 7, para 5, pagew 27 MOD