Written by Sgt B.H.T. Bickerstaffe
8 July 2021
As this tour comes to an end, we remember that ROTO 21-01 enhanced Forward Presence Signal Squadron (eFP Sig Sqn) made leaps and bounds from 13 January 2021 – 17 July 2021 in Latvia. ROTO 21-01 pushed interoperability with NATO Allies to a new level, led several projects at a Task Force Latvia level and significantly improved local CIS infrastructure, all the while working through the challenges that come with a pandemic. Many great milestones for eFP Latvia would not have been achieved without the hard work of this unit’s members.
Canadian Signallers on this rotation deployed from far and wide throughout Canada, all coming overseas with different experiences and backgrounds. Members from the Sig Sqn deployed from 1 RCR, 2 RCR, 2 CER, 2 CMBG HQ & Sig Sqn, 4 CDSG Sig Sqn, 32 Sig Regt, CFJSR and 77 Line Regt. This diverse culture greatly contributed to the success of this ROTO.
At the beginning of the tour in January 2021, all of Latvia was under lockdown due to COVID-19. Upon arrival, eFP Sig Sqn soldiers immediately got to work to extend DWAN connectivity to key staff in isolation throughout Camp Adazi. The Signal Operators, Line Technicians, Signal Technicians, ATIS Technician and Information Systems Technicians all came together as a newly formed team and ensured uninterrupted connectivity. The Sig Sqn’s early efforts facilitated continued Battle Group exercise planning and stores management by the NSE through DRMIS. Despite the many setbacks of COVID-19, the values of the C&E Branch were evident through the dedication and technical competence noted early on within the Sig Sqn.
During Op BALTIC VECTOR in April 2021, The Sig Sqn was called upon to create an anonymous survey to determine the amount of COVID-19 vaccines that HSS needed to order. Due to this anonymous survey built by Cpl Duplessis-Daigle, HSS was able to order the correct amount of vaccines to theatre. Every member who opted for the vaccine in eFP Latvia was vaccinated and wastage was minimized.
The Signallers on this rotation worked with eFP allies in Poland through the Federated Mission Network to ensure critical information was shared to other commands. This achievement pushed NATO to become a more unified force. The command and control achieved by this accomplishment speaks to what NATO stands for as a whole, standing strong together.
On the note of interoperability, Signallers of the eFP Battle Group (BG) and eFP Sig Sqn also worked diligently together to communicate with naval assets in the Baltic Sea. Several TACSAT and HF communications checks were coordinated and conducted with the HMCS Halifax in February and June 2021. The professionalism demonstrated surpassed all expectations. Our RCN friends proved once again that they are always Ready Aye Ready.
Throughout the deployment, Canadian Signallers made significant efforts to improve existing infrastructure. They performed the entire CIS install in the new Military Police Coordination Center in June 2021, assisted the Spanish contingent with cable management in February 2021 and assisted TFL HQ with the development of plans to improve line infrastructure and support future expansion on Camp Adazi.
As the outgoing TFL Comd, BGen Laforest, mentioned when he addressed the eFP Sig Sqn during a unit Honours & Recognition parade in May 2021: “Whenever there are Jimmies around, I know the work will get done. If there is a problem with communications, a Jimmy will always find a solution”. #WeAreNATO