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Jul 7 2020

"It was a very inspiring time of my Career..."

Air Commodore Madelein Spit was the Dutch Liasion Officer to the Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC). She talks about her time during the early phase of JSEC, including the struggles and successes while setting up a NATO command from the scratch, and describes what she finally wants to do when she retires.

By the end of this year, she finally will take off her uniform and head back to her home in the vicinity of Utrecht, Netherlands, after being deployed to Ulm since December 2018.

Female One-Star-General in a male dominated environment: Looking back on a great time of setting up the Joint Support and Enabling Command in Ulm, Germany

It was special for her to be a part of JSEC from the very beginning, because they had to build something new, which was “challenging, but terribly rewarding,” she said. In this „pioneer“ phase they were just a small group of about 20 people who often worked until late in the evening, “Sometimes we were even kicked out of the building because it was so late”. Nobody told them they had to work 60 hours per week; they just did, because they enjoyed the discussions about little inconsistencies until they solved it. 

After completing the creative part of the numerous processes and projects, everybody in the initial core staff element continued to “smooth it out”, to improve the quality of the products and watch JSEC grow every day. ”A great memory,” Spit remembered with a broad smile on her face.

Discovering new territories during the COVID-19 lock-down

She said that it was not only special to work at JSEC but also generally a privilege to live in the city of Ulm . „The nice thing about Ulm is that it is really compact“. Spit resided at one of the outer corners of central Ulm, being able to reach downtown just as quickly as the forest, both within walking distance.

During her last couple of weeks in Ulm, with the COVID-19 lock-down hampering all social activities, she started to discover new territories, „I began to really enjoy the area I live in - just the moment I found out I had to go back“.

Now that Air Commodore Spit is retiring, she primarily wants to have fun and enjoy nature. There are many places she wants to return to, especially those she didn´t have the time to explore while she was there. 

In the nearer future, she wants to work with animals on a voluntary basis. She always had dogs and felt a certain connection between all kinds of animals and herself all the time. Being questioned whether she rather was a dog person or a cat Person, Spit replied: „I totally was a dog person until a stray cat literally walked into my life and decided that she wants to live with me. I figured out that cats are a lot of fun! So, I’m actually both.”

I’m going to miss the people of JSEC

Lieutenant General Jürgen Knappe, JSEC Commander, emphasized in a small Farewell ceremony in Wilhelmsburg Barracks: “You are not only a great worker, but also a kind person and it was a pleasure having you here as a personality. Your contribution to building the cornerstones of JSEC on our way to full operational capability has been outstanding!”

New frontiers: Air Commodore Madelein Spit is facing the administrative challenges of retiring from active duty

What Madelein Spit is going to miss most about her time at JSEC? The people, especially those who accompanied her from the very beginning, many of them became friends over the years. “Whenever we had to face new challenges, we were getting creative and found solutions together. We literally inspired each other and stuck together even more,” remembered Spit, smiling broadly again, “It was a very inspiring time of my career”.

Story by Joint Support and Enabling Command Public Affairs Office

Pictures by Joint Support and Enabling Command/Adam Struzyna 

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