On September 23-24, 2016, Texas Army MARS members conducted Field Day (FFD-16) operations in partnership with region ARES and other radio amateurs from mobilized locations to provide HF data and SSB voice communications for MARS Region 6, Texas Military Forces, Texas Division of Emergency Management and other responding entities and organizations.
Participants in the exercise prepared to support civil authorities on all levels and maintain interoperability across Region 6. All MARS members were expected to make safety measures a priority and maintain OPSEC during every phase of the exercise.
MARS members conducted the communications exercise by handling traffic using mil-std and non-mil-std data modes. A number of members operated at selected field locations to provide a realistic environment for mobilization operations. Texas State Guard MARS members deployed using their assigned TICP kit to verify operational readiness with the latest hardware and software upgrades.
Deployed members operated from the following locations:
Camp Mabry, State EOC, Cagle Campground, New Waverly, US Army Corps of Engineers Campground, Lake Benbrook.
Cagle Park north on Lake Conroe. Ken operating Ham liaison station.
Scott operating Ham liaison station. TxSG TICP kits deployed under shelter at Cagle Park.
Other participating members supported field day operations from their home location, preferably operating under emergency power and with backup antennas where possible.
The exercise was conducted in two phases:
- Phase 1: Friday 23 Sep 2016, 1800 – 2100 CDT, consisted of three one-hour nets; and
- Phase 2: Saturday, 24 Sep 2016, 0600 - 1300 CDT, consisted of seven one-hour nets. In addition, four ARES liaison nets operated from 0800 - 1200 CDT.
This year, 85% of participating members submitted After Action Reports compared to the average 65% in past years. Overall, FFD-16 accomplished its goal of providing Texas Army MARS members with a great opportunity to practice traffic handling under simulated emergency conditions, both in the field and from home stations — a successful and fun event for all involved!