Celebrate our Military Heroes During the Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Exercise

Stand up and fall into rank for the annual Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Exercise on May 14 from 1300 to 2200 UTC. Dating back more than 50 years, the event is an exercise in both tradition and interoperability between government and hams. The Department of Defense will serve as host for this fun exercise that rightfully celebrates those who have or are currently serving in our military ranks.

Armed Forces Day is, of course, a day designated to honor and commend military members who serve us by defending our freedom against all threats. Started by Defense Secretary Louis Johnson on August 31, 1949, the day earned its symbolic start when the Army, Navy, and Air Force shifted from singular entities to a unified force under a single agency—the Department of Defense.

It was, in fact, a shift notable enough to warrant this mention in Harry Truman’s Presidential Proclamation on February 27, 1950:

Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, toward the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.

Armed Forces Day typically falls on the third Saturday of May during Military Appreciation Month, but the Armed Forces Cross-Band Exercise is offset from Armed Forces Day on May 21—the same weekend as
Dayton Hamvention®—to allow hams to attend both events.

During the exercise, military stations in various locations will transmit on select military frequencies and then announce the ham band frequencies to monitor. Operators will listen for these stations and transmit back on frequencies on adjacent bands in the Amateur Radio Service (ARS) as authorized in 47 CFR 97.111.

An Armed Forces Day message will be transmitted using the Military Standard (MIL-STD) serial PSK waveform (M110), followed by MIL-STD Wide Shift FSK (850 Hz RTTY), as described in MIL-STD 188-110A/B. All times are ZULU (Z), and all frequencies are Upper Side Band (USB), unless otherwise noted. The message will also be sent in CW and RTTY. No public or private communication will be impacted by the exercise.

Head to the Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Exercise website for a full list of participating stations for the exercise. And to all our military members at home or abroad, we wish you a very heartfelt “thank you” for your service!

Leave a Reply