When LTC Viorel Pletea saw an internal advertisement to contribute to NATO's Resolute Support (RS) Mission in Afghanistan, the Romanian Air Force officer decided to volunteer.
With that decision, LTC Pletea became one of the many NATO Communications and Information Agency employees who deploy to a NATO mission. Some are civilians, and some are in the military. Their reasons for deploying may be different, but their goal is the same: support the communications equipment that is critical to NATO operations.
“I felt inspired by the possibility to positively contribute to the NCI Agency's support of the RS Mission," LTC Pletea said.
From October 2018 to April 2019, LTC Pletea served as the Deputy Commander of the RS Mission's Signal Support Group.
“The deployment period was challenging and took me outside my comfort zone," LTC Pletea said.
During the assignment, LTC Pletea was responsible for issuing the Commander's instructions. LTC Pletea also worked to improve flawed processes identified in a security audit.
“The pace of work was inevitably higher than in Brussels, but the tasks were so interesting and demanding that it was definitely worth it," LTC Pletea said.
Mike Jones is a volunteer with past deployment experience. Jones recently filled a crisis establishment post as a Projects Staff Officer to NATO Mission Iraq (NMI).
In this role, Jones served as the local liaison between the Agency and NMI for central projects.
“As this is a new mission, I see numerous areas for improvement where I can apply my skills," Jones said in an interview while deployed. “From both my time in Afghanistan as the Theatre Service Manager, and my 19 years with NATO, I've seen and learned what works well and what does not."
Jones established theatre processes to improve information continuity between rotations and increase the effectiveness of communications and information systems provision to NMI.
“In the end, I hope to make a lasting positive impact on NMI," Jones said.
Jones deploys out of a sense of duty.
“We are out here contributing to the greater good. We are making a difference," Jones said. “At the end of this, I know it will feel good to have served, and I know that I will be an even more well-rounded individual within the Agency."
Robert Webster deployed to NATO Mission Iraq in 2019 as the Deployable NATO Operations Centre Head.
In that role, Webster was responsible for all of the Deployable Communications and Information Systems (DCIS) equipment in theatre.
“Having worked on the design, build and testing of the DCIS equipment to be deployed to theatre, it made complete sense that I should ask to be deployed to make sure the equipment fulfilled all the requirements of our customer," Webster said.
The DCIS equipment is the primary form of communications for all NMI staff deployed on the operation.
It can be difficult to leave family and friends, Webster said, but the rewards are worth the sacrifice.
“For me personally, the sense of achievement and job satisfaction is the biggest reason for volunteering," Webster said. “When you are involved in an operation, the resolution of a problem has an immediate effect for the customer, and the feedback is also immediate."
Paul Hubble, an employee who returned in January 2019 from his most recent deployment, had served more than once in the same role.
“I volunteered for the post a number of years ago, as I was very heavily involved in the training process for the military personnel that the post was originally designed for," Hubble said. “The post is very challenging, which is why I got complete satisfaction from being in the post."
Hubble supported the Resolute Support Mission as the Director of the Afghanistan Mission Network Operations Centre.
As the Director, Hubble oversaw the service operation of all NATO-provided CIS across Afghanistan.
“Volunteer because you can and want to. Volunteer to be challenged. Volunteer to make a difference," Hubble said.