Interview with Captain Thorsten Mathesius, German Navy. Captain Mathesius currently serves as Chief of the German Armed Forces Staff in Potsdam.

Q. The German naval commandos’ Kampfschwimmer Company celebrated its fiftieth anniversary on 1 April. You have been an active Kampfschwimmer naval commando for twenty years. You have served in the Kampfschwimmer Company as a platoon/team leader and as company commander. You served as deputy commander of the Waffentauchergruppe (Armed Diver Group), which was established in 1991, and which incorporated the German Navy’s mine warfare assets as well as the Kampfschwimmer Company.

You were deputy commander and commander of the Specialized Operational Forces of the Navy (Spezialisierte Einsatzkräfte Marine – SEKM), which had operational control over the Kampfschwimmer Company from 2002 to 1 April 2014. You have also served in the German Ministry of Defense (MoD) and in the NATO Special Operations Coordination Center / NATO Special Operations Headquarters.

Throughout your career you have observed and experienced first hand the developments which had a direct impact on the Kampfschwimmer community. If you could sum up the developments of the past decades, what would you highlight as the most important factors defining the Kampfschwimmer self-image and their role within the German armed forces, or for that matter within NATO?