The Department of Defense has just recently announced an upcoming Communications Exercise (COMEX) scheduled for next Friday, February 12. The 12-hour exercise will begin at 0700 EST, and will provide an opportunity for the DoD as well as local and regional radio operators to test their preparedness levels in the event of a national communications emergency. The is a fantastic event, bringing together groups across the country. Many hams take part in their local ARES nets on a weekly or biweekly basis, and while rehearsing local net structure is important, rehearsing actual communications with government and law enforcement agencies is paramount to ensuring smooth and efficient communications in times of crisis.
Over the course of next weekend’s COMEX, Army and Air Force MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System) personnel will act as liaisons between civilian radio operators and DoD agencies, relaying information back and forth. The Department of Defense will be requesting information regarding local operating conditions, as well as aspects of the public infrastructure in your county. Each ARRL section will be utilizing predefined frequency allocations from HF to UHF. If you participate in a local ARES net, make sure to coordinate with leadership to ensure maximum participation in the exercise. While the exercise is meant to test emergency communications capabilities, keep in mind that all information passed over the air must be truthful in nature–local conditions should be reported as they exist.
If you would like to find out more information about the exercise, contact your Section Manager–they can point you in the right direction. Of course we never hope to be confronted by a nationwide communications outage, but as in all things, preparedness is the key to success.