Romeo Zero Alpha
Lt. Col. Sam Burns
First published in
SFOR Informer#140, June 6, 2002
Mist has brought visibility down to 40 metres; strong
winds blow rain horizontally across the road that coils high
into the Vlasic Mountains. Here, the men and woman of the
Dutch 43 Armoured Brigade Recce Team, operate Romeo Zero Alpha
(R0A), a radio rebroadcast station that ensures communication
between units working in the area.
Vlasic - "Without R0A we would not be able to communicate
effectively across our Area of Responsibility," explains
Squadron Sgt. Maj. Jurrie Van Der Zwaan. "The group monitors
the radio equipment and provides security for the small compound.
The group is fully self-sufficient during their time on station.
They take everything they will need when they deploy."
The station is situated high on a mountain, and allows radio
signals to be retransmitted from one side of the range of
hills to the other. Eight soldiers and an Advanced Medic man
the station for a period of seven days at a time.
Managing a small team
The nerve centre of the station is a reinforced concrete building
that serves as an observation post, gate control and equipment
monitoring room. Sgt. Michel De Vries is Commander of E Group,
3rd Pl. "This place is manned 24 hours, seven days a
week. The soldiers do four hours duty at a time.
The timing of the changeover is staggered so that there's
a fresh person in the room every two hours. Off duty time
is spent in the accommodation container. We have satellite
TV, videos, books and music. There is a small gym with a range
of fitness equipment so it's not too bad here." De Vries,
on his second tour in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), explains,
"As group leader it's my job to make sure everything
runs smoothly. I know my people well, and if there is a problem,
or they are unhappy about something, I encourage them to talk
about it. We discuss the issue and resolve the matter there
and then. We get on well together so there are never any problems."
Off duty time passes quickly
Pte. Michael Kainama is E Group's IPR (Armoured Fighting Vehicle)
driver. "I like my job in BiH, and I really enjoy the
challenge of the road conditions." Kainama is a gifted
artist, and enjoys building and painting Warhammer figures
"I love to draw and paint, and I started Warhammer modelling
about a year ago. I display some of them in a cabinet in my
hometown's shopping centre. I will take these home with me
on my next leave." Kainama always carries his paints
and materials with him. "Off duty time passes quickly
for me, I am never bored."
Good relationship within small group
All jobs are shared between the group, but De Vries and Kainama
do most of the cooking. "They are quite good cooks,"
remarks 18 year-old Pte. Roy Holstege. "We bring extra
spices and sauces that we like to add a little variety to
the rations. I like the team I am with. We get on well and
enjoy each other's company. Spending a week here is not so
Nations of SFOR: Netherland
SFOR at Work