MARS to be Reorganized?
Members of Congress have proposed placing the three Branches of MARS—Army, Air Force and Navy-Marine Corps—under a single leader to improve interoperation and coordination.
The idea emerged in the House Armed Forces Committee’s May 11 report on the Defense Department 2013 budget authorization. It was published in the “additional and dissenting views” section; currently there is no pending legislation to implement the proposal and none likely in the near future.
At present, each of the three departmental secretaries (Army, Air Force, Navy) oversees his respective MARS branch while “overall policy guidance” for all three comes from the Assistant Secretary of Defense/DoD Chief Information Officer. In an economy move, that DoD post was abolished two years ago but no replacement mechanism has yet been adopted for MARS oversight. The unsigned single-leader proposal evidently was intended to hurry the process along.
It “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.”
This recommendation is not a part of the actual budget authorization. Past initiatives to coordinate operations and policy have died up against the armed services’ longstanding tradition of protecting their turf.
However, an official source who did not have authorization to speak publicly on the issue said the Defense Department pays close attention to requests from members of this powerful committee. At least as significant as the non-binding recommendation, he said, is the signal it sends that influential congressman are directly interested in the future of MARS.
“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 . . . ” the document said. “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 disasters 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.”
“The committee also encourages the service secretaries and the geographic combatant commanders to integrate MARS more fully into their operational planning and activities,” it said.
--Bill Sexton, HQ Army MARS PAO
Not a big deal, MARS doesn't serve the branches much any more, usually works with FEMA and state EOCs. Combining makes sense, especially in states where you could count all MARS members on your fingers and toes.
Downsizing is what we need in all branches and areas of government. As for the military, we need to increase it in every branch. There are many small groups/states/nations which will become more active as this decade progresses, and there are still 2 or 3 big boys with nukes that we might end up with less than friendly trade / loan status.
The discerning reader will know of whom I speak. For this reason, I constantly entreat all my friends and acquaintances to 'Buy American Made', not assembled. Several years ago I was on post at an Air Force base here in Arkansas. Funny how many items in an American Air Force base, such as caps & hats, insignia, field kits, knives, tools, & too many more items to list, were marked 'Made in China'.
This along with our Achilles Heel of using foreign countries as single-point sources for parts & components in our various military equipment and materiel, is a sure formula for disaster. Maybe reorganization isn't such a bad idea, especially if we get a hungry Hawk in those positions that need a swift dose of reality vis-a-vis possible future involvements on the military level with various nations around the world.