United States Air Force Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS)

The Air Force MARS office is located at the Headquarters, Air Force Communications Agency (AFCA), Scott AFB, Illinois. This office is a headquarters staff function, serving as the primary point of contact, systems manager, and focal point for all matters pertaining to Air Force MARS activities, functions and management initiatives in support of DOD objectives. Governing directives for Air Force MARS: Air Force Instruction (AFI) 33-106, Managing High Frequency Radios, Land mobile Radios, Cellular Telephones, and the Military Affiliate Radio System; Department of Defense Directive (DoDD) 4650.2, Military Affiliate Radio System. The Chief of MARS is responsible for the dissemination of policies, procedures and directives concerning administration, operations, training, frequency management, equipment and logistical matters for the worldwide USAF MARS program. Represents HQ AF, HQ AFCA, Air Force MAJCOMs, and FOAs interests at meetings and conferences at the Joint Services MARS Panel, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence (OASD/C3I), National Communications System (NCS - SHARES), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other federal, national and state entities. Administers to an affiliate volunteer population of approximately 3,000 members and 300 contingency military stations consisting of active, reserve and Air National Guard unit MARS stations. Establishes and maintains procedures to manage, control and account for surplus government property used to support the affiliate portion of the Air Force MARS program. Coordinates closely with the AF Frequency Management Agency. Maintains an active liaison with the Army and Navy-Marine Corps MARS Chiefs. Promotes Air Force and public interest in MARS and amateur radio. Attends and participates in national and regional conventions of amateur radio groups; attends regional MARS conferences. The point of contact for all USAF MARS matters is:
203 West Losey Street, Room 3065
Scott AFB IL 62225-5234
Phones: (DSN) 576-5552; Comml (618) 256 5552

What is MARS? 

The Military Affiliate Radio System is a Department of Defense sponsored program, established as separate managed and operated programs by the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

The program consists of licensed amateur radio operators who are interested in military communications. They contribute to the MARS mission providing auxiliary or emergency communications on a local, national, and international basis as an adjunct to normal communications.

MARS History? 

In November 1925, the Army Amateur Radio System (AARS) was formed by a few dedicated pioneers in the United States Army Signal Corps. This organization continued until the start of World War II when operations were suspended. Army amateur radio was authorized to resume operations in 1946 and the Army Amateur Radio System was reactivated and functioned as such until 1948 when the Army and Air Force established the Military Amateur Radio System, later renamed the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS). In 1962, the Navy-Marine Corps MARS program was launched making MARS a joint service program.

MARS Mission 



Eligibility to Join MARS 

The applicant must:

MARS members must agree to operate in accordance with the rules and regulations governing MARS as follow:


Benefits of MARS Membership 



Typical MARS Frequencies 

MARS members stations meet periodically in scheduled networks on military frequencies outside of the amateur bands. There are various types of networks and each accomplishes a specific goal. For example, administrative networks to take care of much of the day-to-day management of the program; traffic networks which exist solely to pass third party traffic; and of course, emergency networks which are established to provide for communication needs during periods of emergency. There are also technical nets and training nets. MARS nets operate in different modes. Although high frequency (HF) single sideband (SSB) voice is predominant, there are RTTY, VHF, PACKET, other digital modes and even slow scan TV nets. You may not join or belong to more than one MARS service at the same time.

How to Join MARS 

To join, send a request for application forms to:

E-mail: USAF.MARS@scott.af.mil

(Conventional mail)
Chief Air Force MARS
203 W Losey St, Room 3065
Scott AFB, IL 62225-5234 Return to top AFCA Homepage