Friday, March 04, 2011

Army MARS HF ALE Now Going Regional Like CAP

Right on the heels of the USAF Civil Air Patrol establishing regional HF ALE networks that has been documented here on the MilcomMP blog, it now looks like the US Army MARS folks are following in their footsteps.

Recently Monitoring Times Digital Digest columnist Mike Chace reported the following on the UDXF newsgroup:

> 14846.0Khz dig 125bd/1750 MIL-188-141A, ALE stations "9UA", "R9C", "A9F",
> "R9UACARMYMAR", "A9FARMYMAR" UNID MIL organization (on USB) 23:53:51UTC
> (2011-02-24) (mco in Portland, ME USA on StarChat#wunclub)

14846.0 kHz is a definite US Army MARS frequency and Mike's report abobe the first ever of ALE activity on that freq. In addition, the ALE addresses observed are different than what has been used in the past. That sent me packing to the net to see if something had changed

It didn't take long to uncovered the material below from a public website with some selected Army MARS docs:

"At the end of January 2011 . . . HQ Army MARS has authorized ALE operations at the regional level for training and familiarization.

"The sole purpose of this authorization is to develop skill, knowledge and familiarization with ALE operation and technologies inside the Army MARS membership. It is not Army MARS intent to develop large scale or permanent ALE networks involving the general membership at this time.

"The reason for this authorization is because ALE technology is in common use by government and military HF radio users. Experience and understanding of this technology is required for a well rounded background in HF radio communications, and potential customer support involving an ALE network. HQ Army MARS hopes opportunities for members to develop this background may become available at the Region level.

"Region Directors are in charge of the frequencies assigned to the Region. Scheduling nets, assigning frequencies, management of operations, etc is under the authority of the Region Director or his designee. ALE training is a Regional Activity. Only those stations so approved by the Region Director, or his designee may participate in ALE training. ALE training will only occur during the times and on the frequencies so designated by the Region Director. This will only occur if the Region Director determines there is a need for the training, and when he has the staff resources and time to accomplish it. There shall be NO ALE activity of any kind on Army MARS frequencies outside of the times specified by the Region Director, unless otherwise expressed by HQ Army MARS.

"This bulletin should not be considered a directive for the Region Directors to commence ALE training.

"ALE operation is not authorized for the general membership on any Army MARS frequency except those specifically under the Region Director’s control, and so designated by the Region Director or his designee for specific periods of ALE Training.

"ALE Addressing
"Each station operating ALE shall have an ALE Address unique to the network it is operating. The ALE address is commonly derived from the stations call sign, but this is not always the case. It is improper to refer to these as “ALE Call Signs”.

"ALE Addresses are made of three character “words”. A three digit address is one ALE Word. A four to six digit address will be two ALE Words, and so on. The more words used in an address, the slower the network becomes. It is for this reason, only 3 or 6 character address will be used.

"The most common ALE Addressing convention used in MARS corresponds to FTR 1047/3-1998. This method uses two ALE Words and is used where a network made up of stations from several services is expected (Such as the Tri-Service ALE Network). The first ALE Word contains the unique portion of the station’s address. It is repeated several times by the ALE equipment when making calls, etc. The second ALE word is only sent once, and indicates the stations affiliation or home organization. The ALE address may be based on the stations call sign as follows:

"An Army MARS station call sign is broken into two parts. The first three characters of the Army MARS call sign is unique to the Army MARS organization, eg, AAA, AAM, AAN, AAR, AAT, AAV. The last three characters are unique to the station, eg, 8RE, 1XY, etc. Since ALE sends these parts in opposite order, the word unique to the station first, the word unique to the organization second, we reverse the order of these elements of the station call sign to create an ALE address. Example:

MARS Station Callsign AAR8RE
ALE Address 8REAAR

"Members with billet call signs that exceed six characters (ex, AAM8EUT) should use their individual member call sign for the basis of their address.

"ALE NET Addressing
"ALE may also be used in a Net mode, where several stations all bearing the same Net Address can be called together on the same frequency. ALE Net Addresses shall follow the following convention for CONUS stations.

A - Region, # Number zero through nine, - Q

"For example, a Region 1 ALE Net Address will be A1Q. A region 4 ALE Net Address will be A4Q."

So looks like here on the MilcomMP ranch we will be on the prowl for new USA MARS regional ALE activity. Should be interesting to see what pops up in the next few weeks. Between the CAP and Army MARS mil/gov HF folks surely have some new and interesting monitoring activity ahead and my aspirin bottle will get some use. If you observe any CAP or US Army MARS ALE activity regardless of frequency, we would certainly appreciate it if you would pass it along to the email address in the masthead.