Information for Prospective Members

The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) - formerly the Military Affiliate Radio System - is a Department of Defense (DOD) sponsored program, established as separate managed and operated programs by the Army 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. The MARS program is authorized under DOD Instruction 4650.02. Communications Wing 7 consists of the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.


Eligibility for Membership in Air Force MARS

The applicant must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Be a United States citizen or resident alien.
  • Possess a valid amateur radio license issued by the Federal Communications Commission
  • Operational digital capability using either TNC or soundcard.
  • Possess an operational HF station capable of operating SSB on at least two of the USAF MARS HF frequencies assigned to the North Central Area.
  • All new members must have equipment that meets a frequency stability of +/- 20 Hz prior to joining AF MARS. Current FCC type accepted amateur equipment and NITA compliant equipment meet these specifications. All VHF radio equipment must have a channel spacing of 12.5 kHz (or less).
  • Not join or belong to more than one MARS service at the same time.
  • Agree to operate in accordance with the MARS rules and regulations
  • Participate a minimum of 12 hours participation per calendar quarter with 9 hours in their primary HF assignment.
  • Successfully complete a training program designed to acquaint the member with military communication procedure.

Benefits of MARS Membership

  • Add to the enjoyment of your amateur radio hobby through the expanded horizon of MARS.
  • Become part of the worldwide military and DoD communications system.
  • Increase your communications skills and capabilities.
  • Selected FREE correspondence courses in communications and electronics subjects (after six months)
  • Operate on specially assigned military radio frequencies in voice and digital modes of communications.
  • Join a group of dedicated fellow radio amateurs participating in meaningful public service.
  • Gain a feeling of being associated with a mission which contributes to the welfare and preparedness of the nation.
  • Participate in regulated, disciplined radio nets with structured lines of organization and very specific operating rules.

Typical MARS Operations and 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 digital modes and even slow scan TV nets.

MARS networks operate on frequencies assigned to the U.S. military. These frequencies are often far removed from the Amateur bands. Most commercially available equipment must be modified to transmit on these frequencies. Information and guidance on making modifications to many commercially available units is available to licensed MARS operators. Communications Wing 7 MARS activities are normally conducted on frequencies near 80m, 75m and 40m. Various digital modes will also be used.

How to Join MARS

To join USAF MARS, download the application form found for your state in the menu above or in the footer below.