Today we gonna introduce the TACMINUTE, a new line of articles, consisting of interviews, focused on training and industry related topics that don’t really fit our other categories.
Some months ago I stumbled upon NATOVET on Instagram. It turned out that NATOVET is a fellow German operator, creating signature sportswear that is focused around specific NATO backed Operations.
After a short talk he sent me a shirt to review it here on RBT. Despite the shirt looks and feels great, Iam really not the guy who reviews a simple shirt. So my goal was to get the motivation behind its company, so we sat down and did a little interview.
RB1: So before we talk about your venture, who are you? What is your profession today? In which branch did you serve?
NATOVET: I currently work at a large German bank as Compliance Officer, specialising in Financial Crime prevention. My main focus is international sanctions but I also work with anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing. My military path started in the German mountain infantry. Later on, I switched to Psychological Operations.
RB1: Thank you for your service! Great that you managed your transition into civilian life. Your project NATOVET seems to be focused on deployments. Did you deploy?
NATOVET: NATOVET has a strong focus on the bond between the various NATO member and partner countries. This bond is primarily forged under the pressure of deployment, a common experience of danger and combat. Naturally, the project focusses on these experiences, but not exclusively.
I deployed to Afghanistan in mid 2007 as part of ISAF where I served in the Combined Joined Psychological Operations Task Force.
RB1: What do you think about the term “veteran” and who do you think is a veteran and who not.
NATOVET: The term and discussion around it is tricky, with many emotions and sensitivities involved. The difficulties around the German discussion and the struggle to come up with an official definition of veteran highlights this. I am by no means an authority on the topic and therefore struggle a bit to give a general answer. For me personally, the deployment to Afghanistan was the formative experience of my military career and forms the core of my self-perception as a veteran.
RB1: Yeah it’s a really weird and tricky discussion. You got a good job after you retired from active duty. So what caused you to found NATOVET?
NATOVET: In Afghanistan, I served in a combined any joined unit. Soldiers from various NATO member and partner countries and all branches served side by side. I was the only German soldier in my team and the patrols we conducted consisted of soldiers from up to six various countries.
After my deployment, I followed the rising veteran culture with great interest but missed the international element. I saw a chance to contribute and to add the already great national developments.
RB1: Great that you addressed the lack of connection between se nations. Despite we all know that Afghanistan is one of the few examples that NATO really worked as planned. Can everyone purchase NATOVET clothing? What about stolen valor?
NATOVET: Not everyone should but technically everyone can. There is no screening or vetting in place and such processes would go well beyond the project’s resources. NATOVET’s goal is to reach as many of you as possible and to make us visible. Does that have a potential for misuse? Sure, but I think the opportunities outweigh the risks.
RB1: You do very streamlined artwork on your clothing. Why no crossed AR15s, punisher skulls and beards? 😁
NATOVET: I have always been fascinated by the clean and technical design language and symbology of the military. Furthermore, I have family in Scandinavia which is also known for its streamlined design. The NATOVET designs certainly reflect that. There are great designs out there including the elements you described. However, that is not where I see my strong side and I will probably keep those designs to the respective experts.
RB1: I also think you did the right way in your design choices as there is already so much over the top stuff that has a very aggressive, if not offensive style to it. Your artwork just addresses the core of being a veteran, without any political statements. What are your plans for NATOVET in the future?
NATOVET: This is a project in its infancy and its main effort is to expand, to reach more of you across the Alliance. Instagram will be the main channel for the time being but the project is likely to expand to other areas. A dedicated online presence and online shop outside of social media would certainly be great.
Another effort is to expand the products range and to include more NATO missions such a IFOR, SFOR or enhanced Forward Presence.
In early 2020, NATOVET will also launch its first virtual challenge or hero WOD to raise money for a veterans charity.
RB1: So you can already sign us in for the hero WOD. Great that you also follow a noble cause. What do you think about big charity organizations like “combat veteran” in germany or wounded warrior project?
NATOVET: It is great to see so many different organisations and project out there, all contributing in their own unique way, addressing the different aspect. To paraphrase the Prussian field marshal Helmuth von Moltke: “We may march separately, but we strike together.”
RB1: Any message to our readers?
NATOVET: These are times of division and strife. We, who served together, fought together and bled together share a bond that is far greater than any of these quarrels. Let’s remember this and let’s continue to stand shoulder to shoulder.
RB1: Well said, we will do so. I really love your shirt and I think we will cooperate further in the future. Thank you for your time. Take care.
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