1. Where are you from?
I'm born and raised in Ostend, a city on the Belgian coast.
2. How long have you been in the military? Why did you decide to join?
I've been in the army since 1988, so that's 34 years now. I wanted to do something that was adventurous with my life, with a mix of challenges and diversity. I did not want a job where I would be stuck behind a desk for 40+ years. The Army was, and still is, a logical choice.
3. Have you deployed before, either on a NATO exercise or other mission?
This is my first exercise deployment with the NRF (NATO Response Force) but I find it very exciting. One of the main reasons I'm really excited is just the chance to work in an international environment with the interoperability of the different nations working together for one goal.
4. What are your expectations of this exercise?
My personal expectation is to gain more experience working in an international environment and a lot of interaction with my peers.
5. What is your role/job in the military and during this exercise?
Currently I'm a staff assistant with HQ RRC in France. Within Brilliant Jump I'm part of the OLRT (Operation Liaison Reconnaissance Team) with other colleagues. We just go ahead of the rest of the RRC force just to prepare the arrival of the rest.
6. How did you and your unit prepare for this cold weather?
Before deployment we had a 101 briefing in my unit, from the NATO Centre of Excellence Cold Weather operations in Norway, about military operations in extreme cold weather with some tips and tricks, do's and don'ts, effects, etc… this was for me a real eye opener. We also received cold weather gear (boots, gloves, thermal clothing, etc..) from our supply chain.
My challenge here in Norway is definitely the cold. I have to take into account that everything takes longer to plan. It takes longer to deploy a unit. It takes longer to go from point A to point B and that's something that's a really big challenge in the planning phase of exercises or operations.
7. What do you do in your down time to relax?
I am a huge fan of tabletop games. My favourite is Warhammer and Warhammer 40k. Unfortunately I have neglected the playing part of the game due to my professional activities and spend most of my spare time for family quality time.
8. What is the best thing about being in the military?
It's the diversity of the job, as well as the career opportunities. But the best thing is being able and available to help, in the homeland or abroad.