GRAZZANISE AIRBASE, Italy -- The 2nd NATO Signal Battalion welcomed a new commander and bid farewell to another during an April 4, 2017 change-of-command ceremony at the battalion's Grazzanise Airbase, Italy, headquarters.
The three skills every Soldier learns during basic training are how to shoot, move, and communicate. It's the third skill that was on the minds of attendees that gathered to watch U.S. Army Lt. Col. James Dooley assume command of the 2NSB under a sunny southern Italian sky.
Dooley arrives to the 2NSB after attending the NATO Defense College Senior Course (Rome, Italy) following a recent stint in Seoul, Republic of Korea. U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Hinkel Jr. departs the 2NSB after serving as its commander for nearly three years. Hinkel is slated for his next assignment with communications, or G6, at the Stuttgart, Germany-based U.S. Africa Command.
"The principles of the battalion's success are not simply copied from others; you are a pattern to others rather than imitators yourselves," said Hinkel to the formation of troops. "Take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed."
The 2NSB, activated in 2004, is comprised of 469 service members and NATO civilians from nine nations. With approximately 140 U.S. Soldiers assigned to its ranks, the 2NSB is the largest single concentration of U.S. Army Personnel in a NATO organization. U.S. Army personnel fill roles within the battalion ranging from mechanics and technicians, all the way up to the commander and senior enlisted leader.
The battalion's core mission is to provide deployable communications and information systems support to troops wherever it's required. Under Hinkel's command, the 2NSB provided signal support to 17 NATO operational deployments to Turkey and Afghanistan as well as 23 deployments to major NATO exercises that encompassed the majority of the European continent.
German Maj. Gen. Walter Huhn, the NATO CIS Group commander, served as the reviewing officer for the ceremony, while Italian Maj. Luigi Viscito and Battalion Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Grela served as the ceremony's commander of troops and bearer of colors, respectively.
Huhn, who heads the sole communications and information systems provider for deployed NATO headquarters in the NATO CIS Group, praised the value that 2NSB brings, and said the battalion's troops in Italy are well hosted and well trained.
Dooley, who is serving his third tour in Italy, said he looks forward to commanding the battalion, and he's especially excited to continue the goodwill and partnership between 2NSB and the local community.
"Please allow me to say thank you for those Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen who have earned my sincere respect since my arrival and welcomed me amongst their ranks," Dooley said to his troops following the passing of the battalion's colors. "You all are truly inspiring, and I will strive every day to earn the privilege of standing beside you as your commander."
Hinkel also praised the local community and the support they've given him and his troops during his tenure at the 2NSB.
When asked what he'd miss most about Italy, Hinkel didn't hesitate to reply.
The people, the food, and the coffee, he proclaimed.