Army MARS Chief Bob Sutton
recently alerted members that the grandfathering period for MARS nets is coming to an end."All MARS members should consider this standard when purchasing new equipment and should meet this standard no later than 1 January 2008," he
announced in a recent message to the membership.
"The purpose of this change is to provide more channels in an already congested spectrum," Chief Sutton
said."Several states have already begun shifting their repeater frequencies to meet this plan and are planning to purchase new repeaters."Conforming VHF equipment is already on sale and this list can also be found at https://ntc.cap.af.mil/index.cfm.
Change of Command: While Bob Sutton was at Ft Meade MD during the Grecian Firebolt05 exercise he
made it known he'd be retiring as Chief of Army MARS within the coming year.Sutton
, who turned 64 in August, has held the Chief's post since 14 Dec.1989.His membership in MARS dates back to 1961 when he was serving in the U.S. Air Force.
The centerpiece of his
15-year tenure has been transferring the rank-and-file focus from handling morale-and-welfare traffic to the nation's emerging need for emergency backup communications.Linking servicemen with their loved ones by MARSgram and phone patch may have been deeply rewarding for the members.After the 1991 Gulf War, however, much of that mission was overtaken by inexpensive phone cards, cell phones and e-mail,that and the lack of familiarity with HF radio among younger Army commanders.Besides, when the Army first welcomed Hams into a support role back in 1925, the purpose was to provide radio operations training to the Army and emergency communications backup.That priority has never changed.Under Sutton's leadership, MARS training has concentrated on emergency operations for the past decade.Sutton
reflected on the new situation in a column published in this space last August.As the next step in preparing for this role, he
urged MARS members now to take the initiative in contacting local and state emergency services, familiarizing them with MARS capabilities, and working directly with them to develop integrated operations."There lays the success story for MARS," he