Royal Navy Officer Makes History As Top Student On German Military Course

About 120 German military personnel attend the course in Hamburg, alongside NATO and European allies.

A Royal Navy officer has made history as the top student on Germany’s most prestigious training course.

After two years of training, Lieutenant Commander David Roberts became the first non-German to win the best naval student award on the German Advanced Staff Course at the German Armed Forces Command and Staff College.

He was also named as the best international student on the course in Hamburg, which is attended by roughly 120 German military personnel, as well as NATO and European allies.

The course focused on growing the German military's understanding of combined global operations and expeditionary warfare.

On the course, British students can gain an insight into continental coalition operations, as well as share their own expertise.

"This is quite challenging and draining, particularly at first," Lt Cdr Roberts said.

"The pace and breadth of subjects covered in the course does take a bit of time to ease in to."

In 2014, Lt Cdr Roberts served on French flagship FS Charles de Gaulle as a fighter controller (Picture: Royal Navy).

Apart from presentations towards the end of the training, when students must demonstrate their English-speaking ability to work in multinational scenarios, the course is taught entirely in German.

It is the second time Lt Cdr Roberts, 37, originally from Croydon, has demonstrated his language skills while on a long-term exchange with UK allies.

Back in 2014, he served on board French flagship FS Charles de Gaulle as a fighter controller, directing the actions of Rafale and Super Etendard jets.

"That experience definitely helped me with acclimatising in a new language and generally settling in in a new country," he said.

"That, and our naturally-aligned national interests and societal norms and mores, made it easier to make a significant contribution to the course, as well as to draw lessons which can be useful for the UK Armed Forces."

Lt Cdr Roberts was joined by six other Britons on the course, who underwent 12 months of intensive German language training at Shrivenham.

He will now move on to a job with NATO’s Maritime Command Headquarters.

Cover image: Lieutenant Commander David Roberts (right) receives the top naval student award from the Commander of the German Navy's Baltic Forces (Picture: Royal Navy).