Eight Prattville Army National Guard members from the 231st Military Police Battalion armory traveled to Fort McClellan for specialized training in ham radios earlier this month.
The military is trying to bring back the use of HF or high-frequency communications in the service rather than having sole dependence on satellite communication.
With today’s email and cellphone communication, radios now are used primarily during natural disasters and emergency situations such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy when high cellphone use can overload the satellite system.
Special radio frequencies can communicate with emergency management agencies during such times.
Joel Black, a member the Region 4 Army Military Auxiliary Radio Service, or Army MARS, said the radio is much more efficient than satellite communications.
“Today’s military has started to depend more on satellite communication. However, HF or high-frequency communications, is a more rapidly deployable communication system,” Black explained. “You can set up an antenna, tune into the right frequency and start talking within minutes. It takes much longer to set up a satellite.”
Trying to set up a satellite communication in the field can be cumbersome for military members, Black said. Oftentimes, two men are needed to set up a 20-foot or 8-foot satellite, transponder and other equipment.
The whole process can take up to two hours.
Three ham radio operators at McClellan taught the soldiers from Prattville how easy it could be.
The licensed Army MARS trainers shared their expertise in proper use and selection of radio frequencies, how radio waves work, communications technology, safety and techniques of antenna installation.
Those in charge of the three-day course included Alabama Army MARS State Director Wade Brock, Alabama Army MARS Training Officer John Briscoe and Georgia Army MARS State Director Jerry Lofstead.
Army MARS, which began in 1925, is a Defense Department organization of amateur radio operators that train on a daily basis for providing emergency communication for both military and government agencies.
Ham radio operators are most associated for their contributions as part of the U.S. Army Signal Corps sending messages between troops during the Korean and Vietnam Wars with a HF radio-telephone.
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