Lance Corporal Clare Miller
She is currently a signals detachment commander, leading four other signallers, with the Combined Task Force 635 (CTF 635) deployed to Solomon Islands on Operation ANODE.
Clare is a busy woman. She works a six-days-a-week roster with her team as they monitor the CTF 635 communications system 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When not on duty, Clare weight-lifts three times a week, and is lead singer in a rock-band with other Regional Assistance Mission Solomon Islands (RAMSI) personnel.
As a Communications Systems Operator, a ‘signaller”’, Clare and her team ensure that the CTF 635 communication equipment and systems are always able to be used to keep the soldiers aware of what is going on around them, to keep them resupplied and to assist with casualty evacuations.
“No communications means they are on their own,” Clare says. “That’s why if anything happens, at the drop of a hat the comms need to be there.”
It was the intellectual and physical challenges that attracted Clare to the job as a signaller with the Army Reserve and describes herself as a big ‘sig nerd’.
Clare enjoys the intellectual side of the job, both with the equipment (understanding how it all works, fault-finding and problem solving) and with how the radio waves work.
“Understanding the science behind it makes you a more effective operator,” Clare says.
Clare explains how she and the other signallers have been able to practice using high frequency to bounce signals off the ionosphere, enabling them to talk from a radio to a phone thousands of kilometres away.
It is a complex technical skill that must be practiced or lost. Apparently it involves maths and, while the details are hazy, the benefits for providing emergency back-up communication capabilities are fairly clear.
The signallers’ job at CTF 635 is, Clare says, the same as for any Army operation with the difference being that in the Solomon Islands there has been more time to provide training to other signallers to increase their productivity and to train other soldiers in the signallers’ jobs.
“As Army Reservists, the deployment to Solomon Islands is a fantastic opportunity for the younger members of the detachment to get experiences they usually don’t get - that is, a chance to do their job continually over a long period of time, and to get their skill levels up.”