Question: "Is the ACS, Auxiliary Communications Service, a way to counteract the FCC restrictions placed on Amateurs operating in
support of government solely under RACES?"
Answer: No, that was not the purpose of creating the ACS. The ACS came into existence when it was realized that
(a) 1990's government needed a broader service than people who limited their service to being operators on Amateur Radio; and
(b) The word 'RACES' was often seen as a "l950's Civil Defense tin hat and bucket-of-sand" service in many places. The result was an image or mental idea that created problems (like discontinuance of a unit because there was no understanding of how to use it in the mid-l990's.) In other places the RACES was alive and well with a very positive image; but, unfortunately, there were enough of the opposite to suggest that a name change would help.
Originally, the name selected was Auxiliary Radio Service. It seemed appropriate as the unit included CAP (Civil Air Patrol) and MARS
(Military Affiliate Radio Service) personnel as well as Amateur Radio Licensees. During subsequent emergencies, however, when support was requested for non-radio communications services such as computer, fax and phone systems, it was obvious that government needed a broad-based emergency communications support unit, not just radio, nor Amateur Radio. Following that, the name was changed to the ACS, Auxiliary Communications Service.
The RACES, while limited to the use of Amateur Radio in the FCC sense, is a part of the ACS. However, the ACS is more than Amateur Radio, for it can include the services noted above and others as well (REACT and SKYWARN are two examples.) On the other hand, an ACS can limit its participation to the RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) if that is best for the local situation.
It is important to note that the ACS is a government's emergency management activity and program. It is not a condition. The RACES, on the other hand, can be only a condition, or an on-going program that is similar to, but not as broad and inclusive as, the ACS.