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Its Christmas? Theres work to be done

By 1Lt. Franois-Xavier Miller
First published in
SFOR Informer#104, January 10, 2001

Tuzla - Christmas is only a couple of days away when Maj. David A. Snyder, Commanding Officer of the 123rd Signal Battalion based at Eagle Base, Tuzla, warmly welcomes his visitors, but he looks puzzled by our questions concerening work at Christmas: "Of course life goes on. It's Christmas time, but we are implementing a new training schedule and we keep on maintaining permanent links."
The Battalion briefing room is filled with a dozen or so NCOs following a video course. "We are experimenting with a different way of training privates in shooting. Normally two or theee NCOs would train the whole company. But I think it is better for a soldier to be trained by his own NCO. They are all fully qualified in marksmanship for the M-16 family, and so they will do it."
"We'll be able to see if they meet their targets with a low failure rate. They must have their soldiers ready by January 10, which does not leave much spare time if you also take into account the permanent duties. Training reminds us that signallers are also soldiers.
As a matter of fact, the 123rd Battalion has three main tasks which consists of providing FM radio coverage, linking tactical and commercial phones together, and - last but not least - catering for multichannel satellite , the whole involving voice and data.
The night shift is in charge of servicing a 150-foot communications tower. "We have to make sure that cables are in good order, replace them where necessary and make sure the radio shacks are always connected," explained Spc. Darius Cunningham, Bravo Company. According to Sgt. Christopher Hale, "We also have to check that the data is flowing correctly." He shows us his multi-channel, radio terminal Hummer, a signals version of the famous truck.
The men climb the tower ladder as swiftly as cats, but not forgetting safety measures by first putting on their climbing gear. "From up there, we can also rotate the head of mobile subscriber equipment antennas, which sometimes need it. They are directional antennas and weather conditions sometimes make it necessary," says Spc. Darius Cunningham. "We would also clear snow off the top if needed" added Sgt. Christopher Hale.
When asked about seasonal holiday time, they both respond, "We are away from family and children. We miss them of course, but we work every day, on a 24-hour shift, so working keeps us on the run."
New Year’s Eve will be past, winter will tread its path, and the show must go on. 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The 123rd Signal Battalion reminds us that signals are always required.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: US
SFOR at Work