By 1st Lt. Luis Sanchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#116, June 27, 2001
Communications are of paramount importance to
ensure the success of a mission. In the field, radio contact is
invaluable to the soldiers when patrolling. The Balkan topography
is so complicated that it is often impossible to set up re-broadcasting
Trebinje - To deal with communication tasks in the
eastern zone of the Area of Responsibility (AOR) of the Spanish
Battle Group is the task of the Communication Centre of the Marines
Detachment. They ensure and provide communications with the main
"Our mission is two-fold, firstly to receive and transmit
all types of messages from our headquarters and, secondly, to
provide support to the Tactical Battle Sub-Group," explained
1st Lt. Alfredo Palacios Ballesteros, Commanding Officer of the
In the middle of the camp several containers under camouflage
are surrounded by barbed wire, sandbags and a sign warning people
to keep away from the restricted area; several satellites and
rigid antennas emerge from the roof, pointing towards the sky.
have a fax, various types of telephones, radio transmitters in
several bands, HF inclusive, satellites facilities such as Hispasat
and Inmarsat, a local communication network
with Spain all the time. There is always one team on duty, the
centre operates 24 hours per day," Palacios added.
A signal team of 16 soldiers comprises the staff, among them one
sergeant who is responsible for all technical problems. "Work
comes in fits and starts but I always have something to do. There
is no lack of maintenance duty," said Sgt. Javier Rodriguez
Romero, the technician.
One of the missions carried out by the signalmen consists of establishing
one re-broadcasting station on the peak of Mount Leotar (1,228
metres), in southeastern Republika Srpska. It is the highest point
of that area, from which they can assure a better transmission
coverage across their AOR, and get rid of zones that are outside
of the radio coverage. A two-signal soldier team is detached weekly.
They are transported by helicopter (by the Multinational Army
Aviation Battalion based in Ploce), from the Spanish Marines camp
to the summit of Leotar.
and your mate spend one week alone until the replacement arrives,
sometimes loneliness appears
It's not hard work, but you
must be operative 24 hours and provide assistance," Cpl.
Carlos Estebanez commented.
"We are always on the alert listening, if something happened
we could act properly and start the emergency procedures if necessary.
In this mission you can see that the signal job is real - not
training. It is very satisfying to provide radio coverage to patrolling
elements and they know that there is somebody behind the radio,"
Nations of SFOR: Spain
SFOR at Work