Signal and smile: Monterroso shines at African Lion 24

ACCRA, Ghana — As the tactical communications manager for the Ghana spoke of exercise African Lion 2024 (AL24), U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Fabricio Monterroso, a signal specialist with U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF), faced an immense challenge: ensuring seamless communications and connectivity for the hundreds of multinational participants spread across multiple remote Ghanaian training areas.


"Let's be real - maintaining signal and data flows across this vast training area with limited infrastructure is hugely challenging," he admitted. "But that's precisely why mastering these skills is so vital; it prepares us to accomplish the mission using the Army’s equipment for any contingency operation the Army encounters."
By Philip Regina U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa Tamale, Ghana May 18, 2024
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ACCRA, Ghana — As the tactical communications manager for the Ghana spoke of exercise African Lion 2024 (AL24), U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Fabricio Monterroso, a signal specialist with U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF), faced an immense challenge: ensuring seamless communications and connectivity for the hundreds of multinational participants spread across multiple remote Ghanaian training areas.

Amid the intensity and numerous responsibilities, Monterroso brought an upbeat attitude and sense of humor, which served as a tonic for those around him. His approachable nature and eternal optimism, no matter the obstacle, reminded everyone that the SETAF-AF mission extends beyond just technical expertise.

"My role is to create that command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) capability for the exercise, but I also see it as uplifting those around me," said the Los Angeles native with an infectious grin. "A positive mindset, humor and resiliency towards any challenge - that's essential for success when you're in an environment like African Lion."

Challenges are nothing new to Monterroso.

“Being a first-generation Hispanic American and growing up financially challenged, I always had to make the best of the situation and belongings I had,” he explained.

Coming from a family with a father, mother and three sisters, he was the first to join the military. He went on to become soldier of the year, noncommissioned officer of the year and drill sergeant of the year. Adding to his accomplishments, he also attained the expert soldier’s badge.

Monterroso joined the Army in 2003 and has deployed and mobilized multiple times to Iraq, Italy and across Africa in support of communications and theater operations. He supported previous exercises such as Special Operations Command-Africa's exercise Flintlock and other country sites participating in African Lion. Drawing from those experiences, he addressed the undeniable difficulties of establishing connectivity in Ghana's austere environments.

"Let's be real - maintaining signal and data flows across this vast training area with limited infrastructure is hugely challenging," he admitted. "But that's precisely why mastering these skills is so vital; it prepares us to accomplish the mission using the Army’s equipment for any contingency operation the Army encounters."

Highly trained in various technical disciplines as a noncommissioned officer, he also attained a Bachelor of Science degree in applied mathematics and statistics. Monterroso led teams rigging sophisticated networking equipment like satellite antennae and mobile communications nodes. His technical acumen in linking radio, data, and voice systems into a seamless network, enabling command and control for the large-scale joint exercise.

Outside these professional duties, however, Monterroso's outgoing personality and quirky sense of humor made him universally popular. Whether it was his witty quips which raised morale, or mentoring young soldiers to stay resilient, Monterroso's intangible qualities were a force multiplier.

"When stress levels rise, you have to find ways to band together through some laughter and camaraderie," he said. "The Army doesn't just need technical experts, but well-rounded leaders creating a positive team environment."

As his time at AL24 draws to a close, Monterroso reflected on his SETAF-AF experience with pride and optimism. The exercise validated capabilities while affording him the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the Army's values through his own personable nature.

"At the end of the day, we're ambassadors not just militarily, but as human beings representing the best of America's military," said Monterroso. "That's a role I take immense pride in always."

About SETAF-AF SETAF-AF serves as a dedicated headquarters under U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Europe & Africa, coordinating Army activities across Africa to provide scalable crisis response options.

For further details on SETAF-AF's activities, please visit www.setaf-africa.army.mil.

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