Is the motto of Kampfschwimmer training, and that pithy phrase really says it all. Candidates must display courage, unmitigated determination to succeed, willingness to learn, mental flexibility, capacity for suffering, humility, self-confidence, self discipline, leadership, responsibility, and the ability to work as part of a team. These are the prerequisites for embarking on the long and difficult road to becoming a “silent professional,” a fully trained Kampfschwimmer. In terms of the Big Five personality traits defined by psychologists, commando candidates require:
Enthusiasm and self-motivation, in order to acquire new skills and to overcome periods of adversity;
Openness for new experiences, in order to soak up new knowledge like a sponge;
Emotional stability, in order to remain calm and act sensibly during critical situations;
Conscientiousness, in order to become a reliable team member;
Agreeableness and compatibility, in order to maximize the potential of the Kampfschwimmer’s greatest asset: the TEAM (“two are one and one is none!”)
Welcome Civilian Experience:
A background in certain clubs and activities – e.g. a swim team – can help prepare people for life in a military community. Many naval commando candidates previously served as volunteers with non-profits such as the DLRG (German Lifeguard Organization, rescues mariners in coastal waters), water safety patrol, or the Red Cross. This reflects their dedication to service and their in-depth knowledge of first aid or waterborne operations. Scuba diving experience and theoretical or practical knowledge of boating and navigation help learn basic concepts and facilitate certain training segments. Martial arts are also appreciated. The German armed forces do not practice a common hand-to-hand combat system, and the various martial art techniques candidates have practiced constitute an enrichment.
Welcome Military Experience:
Prior service with Ranger, mechanized infantry or security force units facilitates comprehension of tactical concepts and fieldcraft. Previous tours of duty as a combat medic, communications specialist or reconnaissance specialist are beneficial for service with the Kampfschwimmer Company and for selecting further specialization. Experience operating drones – which are now regularly deployed by SOF – is another asset. Mastering these specialties can actually be a “job guarantor” for service members who want to stay with the SOF despite approaching the age limit or suffering diminished physical capacity. Nobody “retires on active duty” with the naval commandos.