The expression “the best” is of course rather presumptuous. But in this case it concerns individuals or organizations who on a daily base try hard to bring out the best in themselves and work hard to make a difference.
One of these organizations is the BBE, de Bijzondere Bijstands Eenheid Korps Mariniers, also known as the UIM, Unit Intervention Marines. They are the government’s last resource when dealing with terrorists, pirates, hijackers of train or airplanes, armed criminals or war criminals.
Due to their long and excellent track record this unit has an excellent reputation, also outside the Netherlands.
Myself, coming from a non-military background and not even having tasted military service (due to an Achilles-tendon rupture being an athlete) this world was completely foreign to me.
It is very interesting to see this unit at work, especially when looking through the eyes of a coach in elite sports. Here is a group of people who, identical to top athletes, has to deal with preparation and training, selection, performing under pressure, trust, teambuilding, motor learning, physical conditioning, and stress management.
They show a professional attitude almost unmatched in other professions, but not so strange if you keep their ultimate work conditions in mind; here a small hesitation or failure can lead to loss of life.Already a long time ago Georg Orwell wrote that we as civilians can sleep quietly every night because somewhere men like tthis unit make sure we can, they watch over us and protect us from violent trouble.
These dedicated operators are ready 24/7 to even risk their lives for us.
After a mentally and physically very demanding selection procedure the operators learn the whole spectrum of necessary drills that go with their work. In this aspect we can compare them with decathletes.
Of course this demands an excellent mental and physical fitness. The long, irregular and unpredictable work days (and nights), the learning of new drills and skills, the flawless handling of different weapon systems, the sharpening and consolidation of reflexes and routines, the maintenance or improvement of physical conditions, demand the ultimate from a human body and mind.
No wonder they find it useful to, on a regular base, test the operators with our testing equipment such as the Omegawave and the Procomp.
There are not that many professions were small errors might make the difference between life and death. A moment of carelessness, of doubt, responding a tenth of second too late or in “the fog of war” just not doing what went so well in practice before, can lead to fatal results.