Both my parents are Austrian and I was born in the UK where I grew up and went to school. I joined the military rather young, before going to university. At that time, in the 80s, the British Government and the military ran various projects to find the leaders of the future and they took the top five per cent of all recruits within that year and put them on a special training programme. The programme ran for a year and a half, rather than the standard few months of basic training, to develop individuals from an educational, a physical fitness, and a leadership point of view.

I went through this programme. I was part of a small group of people that were fast-tracked through the system thereafter because we were seen to be capable enough to be promoted quite quickly. The programme only lasted for a couple of years, but I was fortunate enough to be part of it.

I did my special forces, commando, and paramilitary training. I was a diver and I learned how to fly helicopters and planes. Afterwards I moved into bomb disposal, starting off in normal explosives and incendiary devices and that moved into a niche area of nuclear, chemical and biological devices.

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