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Sep 4 2021

Meet Commander Sven Rehbaum

My name is Sven Rehbaum and I am a Commander in the German Navy. My age is 53 and I am working for STRIKFORNATO for one year as a Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff Civil-Military Cooperation (DACOS J9) and Gender Advisor (GENAD). I am divorced and I have one daughter who is 17 years-old and is living with me in Portugal.

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I have been in the Navy since 1991 and started a volunteer career as a Petty Officer. However, I soon switched for an Officer career. Up to now, I have served in different posts in the North and South of Germany. I have deployed twice to South Sudan as a Military Observer and have been on different deployments with NATO as an Officer of the Watch and Commanding Officer of a Minehunter. Additionally, I was Company Commander of the German Clearance Diving Unit. Before I came to STRIKFORNATO, I served 10 years in the Training and Exercise Branch of Multinational Joint Headquarters (MNJHQ) Ulm and Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC).

One of my passions is to meet different people, with different backgrounds and different experiences from all over the world."

If I had to describe myself in three words… quite difficult… but I would say, reliable, always a smile on my face and motivating.

My hobbies are sports, running, surfing (absolute beginner), swimming, Boot Camp, reading, touring on my motorcycle (for several years, I have annually embarked on 2-3 week tours with two friends), and exploring my new home country. My hidden talent could be, to always be calm and relaxed, especially when interacting with my daughter, who is sometimes a difficult teenager.

I really enjoy my life and I am very thankful for the opportunity to be here in Portugal at STRIKFORNATO. One of my passions is to meet different people, with different backgrounds and different experiences from all over the world.

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Growing up, I never intended to join the armed forces. During my youth, I had different ideas of what to do with my life (locomotive driver, photographer, journalist, doctor). Before joining the Navy, I was doing vocational training as a photographer and worked in this business for several months.

But, it all transpired completely differently. When I joined the Navy, we still had a conscript service in Germany, so I decided to spend four years and earn some money before I start my serious life. It ended up different than expected. I really liked it, starting with basic training and I soon decided to switch to the officer career path that I am still in now. I found my dream job and I am still motivated every morning to go to the office. For sure, there were also bad times and the motivation was not so high but, most of the time, more than 90%, I had a very good time. Additionally, the military life gave me a lot of chances to visit new countries and meet people. Especially during my time on board of Minehunters, I had the possibility of experiencing many different cultures from the north of Europe down to the Gulf Area.

For me, it is not imaginable to think about what I would have done if I had not joined the military. Most probably, I would do something where I could help other people… maybe a medical job or working with organizations like the United Nations or a Non-Governmental Organization.

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I think that my family is proud of my service in the Navy. Even if we do not see each other very often, especially during the Pandemic, but times are improving. Being in the Navy was also one of the reasons for getting divorced. It is always difficult to have a "normal" family life when you are away for 200 and more days. This has been the time of the 10% not being so motivated.

The most memorable experience has been the two missions with United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). A country, shaken by more than 50 years of civil war, is trying to get back to normal life. Getting in touch with the population there, especially the children, in a devastating environment and seeing that they still have hope that their situation will improve despite the starvation, lack of medical support, bad housing conditions, flooding during the rainy season, very bad infrastructure, and no chance of getting higher education… that impressed me deeply. I was only able to help in a very, very small area to improve the situation maybe for some hours for the people there.

Since my arrival at STRIKFORNATO, I have experienced a very professional staff with amazing people and a great comradeship, supporting each other wherever possible. Although the staff is small, STRIKFORNATO is very capable of coping with all the challenges that may arise. It has already developed into a kind of family for me. I really enjoy working as the DACOS J9 and GENAD.

If I could make a difference in the world, I would try to leave it a little better than how I found it by doing little things around me.

In my job at STRIKFORNATO, I would like to be known for always having time for someone who needs help and support. Time is the most valuable thing we can spend on someone else.


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Story by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO

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