Delta/West Gulf Divisions Interoperability Test

The two Division Directors, David Woolweaver K5RAV and David Norris K5UZ proposed a joint Delta/West Gulf ARES/MARS exercise to occur on May 5, 2012 from 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM CDT.  The test will primarily be for the use of digital modes.  This exercise was initiated by the three Texas Sections to test ARES/MARS communications interoperability under a test communications emergency.  It was recognized by the Directors as a good opportunity to initiate an intersection and interdivisional test at the same time.  Texas has a very comprehensive plan for this exercise.  It is not necessary for OK, AR, LA, MS, & TN to try to imitate the Texas plan.

The scenario is a complete failure of the power grid, Internet and telephone systems caused by a severe solar storm, which would be a true communications emergency if it were to occur.  With these failures, many of the systems that we depend upon during actual emergencies will not be available.  As a result, the test will be accomplished as an RF only communication test.  No communication system dependent on infrastructure will be used (includes Winlink network, D-Star node to node, Echolink, telephones or cell phones).

All eight Sections in both divisions will operate autonomously and at the discretion of the Section Manager and the Section Emergency Coordinator.  The decision to participate (or not) is with each Section Manager.  Emphasis is on KISS and simplification.

Since emergencies normally begin locally and then may spread regionally, each Section will develop its own plan for the exercise, testing whatever critical ARES and MARS RF only communications system (with emphasis on digital) deemed necessary within the Section.  The emergency, in this scenario, will occur simultaneously in all Sections and both Divisions.

Emphasis will be on digital transmission using Pactor I, II and III (and its variations) or other digital modes of choice in a PEER TO PEER mode only. (The WL2K, likewise D-Star, Echolink and IRLP networks depend upon the Internet to move traffic and the Internet will be down).  This is an excellent opportunity to test intra/inter Section and Division digital systems, both on the Amateur and MARS bands.  The exercise will involve the Oklahoma Section, North, South and West Texas Sections, Arkansas Section, Louisiana Section, Mississippi Section and the Tennessee Section.

At the SM’s and SEC’s choice analog SSB nets can also be active to move traffic as well.  This would also be an excellent opportunity to test the standing Delta MOU.   At Section discretion, this exercise could also qualify as the Section SET.

Again…the emphasis for this exercise is digital peer to peer.  Messages can be in ICS or ARRL format or a combination.  Messages should be sent as TEXT files to eliminate digital overhead.  Sample messages will be issued in the near future for peer to peer messaging.  Peer to peer connects can utilize any executable program that allows such control and connections (Airmail, Ham Radio Deluxe, Winmor and many others).

(Contributed by, Gary Stratton, K5GLS, LA ASM)

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