Information systems operator Lance Corporal Desiree Arnold has found herself in a Navy ship in the southern ocean, managing a Managed Isolation Facility, and setting up technical communications equipment in the past year.

It’s all in a day’s work for LCPL Arnold who has been in the Army for not quite four years.

Before joining the military she worked in the information technology industry, with various telecommunication companies.

“Although this allowed me to develop my knowledge it did not offer any formal qualifications and the grind of 9-5 became stale. I looked into joining Signals and found I could practise IT in obscure locations, various conditions and challenge myself physically and mentally, and at the same time get formal IT qualifications for free.”

Along with much of the rest of the Army no day is predictable nowadays, thanks to Operation Protect, the military’s response to the Covid pandemic. 

LCPL Arnold is currently in the Regimental headquarters supporting the planning, movement and deployment of troops.

In recent month she has deployed to the managed isolation facilities.

In the months before Covid struck a typical week would include the maintenance and set up of technical and communication equipment, troubleshooting and improving the Army’s classified network.

She helped implement training in Communication Access Nodes in various locations using different bearers and radio systems,  and simulating traffic and faults to improve technical knowledge.

The green skills have to be kept up to , for example, - weapons training, revision of warfare and protection and destruction of classified technologies in high risk scenarios.

She has deployed with HMNZS Canterbury twice.

“The purpose of having Army Sigs deploy with the Navy is to provide interoperability between the service’s networks on the ship, along with the land to ship capability.

“During Op Endurance the NZDF was assisting DOC with the removal of asbestos. This required efficient communication with land, helo and ship, in which Army Signals provided the land component. It included  trouble shooting, insurance of secure voice, infill and support of radio equipment and man power on the ground.”

The secondary deployment was to test and implementation of both Army and Navy Networks to provide data communication.

It’s not always plain sailing.

“We often deploy to remote locations and there are challenges in providing effective communications in varying terrain.

Along with that we work in areas where you can only rely on yourself and the team to provide the knowledge to repair and maintain the network in challenging conditions and high stress environments.”

But with the challenges comes job satisfaction.

“I enjoy the variety of technical challenges that you don’t find in a normal civilian role and being able to deploy and work with various people and nations.

“As the world runs on information the Signals Corp deploys with every other unit supporting them with their commination needs.
This provides great variety and job satisfaction as you can work with the front line, rear theatre of operations and the other defence forces.”

LCPL Arnold is expecting her first child in May.

“I am currently baby focused so am primarily looking forward to the great work life balance that the forces provide. Both my partner and I are Military and have been supported through our new life journey."

Published in Army News - Issue 519(external link)(external link)

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