“My job is to keep you alive. Make it as hard as you like.”
Of Algerian and French descent, Kateb grew up in an affluent family in Paris’ 16th arrondissement. He comes from a well-respected lineage in both the military and medicine. In his second year of medical studies with the prestigious Université Paris Descartes, Kateb answered the appeal for volunteers in Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). He has subsequently volunteered numerous times on emergency frontline aid missions around the world. Upon graduation, Kateb declined a prominent private medical practice in favor of a career with the French Defense Health Service. Kateb’s main discipline is toxicology and ecotoxicology. He has authored studies on biological agents and their effects on at-risk populations and damaged environments, and contributed reports to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Recognizing the ongoing need for doctors, Kateb continues to volunteer with MSF. He is a highly regarded medical officer for the commandement des forces spéciales Terre.
Specialist Gustave “Doc” Kateb’s wealthy upbringing could easily have turned him into a narcissist, yet he’s one of the most accessible and thoughtful people I’ve encountered. Surprisingly, he didn’t have much interest in being a doctor. The impetus seems to stem from family tradition, though it’s clear his grandfather’s military service was a strong motivation. Kateb admitted that he almost quit at the end of his first year because he didn’t feel any passion for his work. I gather his father thought the mention of “passion” was absurd. […]
In his second year, Kateb volunteered for MSF and that first mission still resonates with him. The squalor, the chronic lack of supplies, the desperate need. He remembers how the look of worry on the mothers’ faces subsided as they gathered near the tents. That was when he found his passion at last. […] Encountering people with so little, it’s understandable that Kateb said he felt shame. What’s interesting is that he described embarrassment as well for the life he still had. […]
Field reports reflect Kateb’s selfless acts, yet he has explicitly chosen a combat role. That piqued my interest. It was some time before he was willing to share his story with me. During a frontline op in East Africa, the hospital where Kateb worked was stormed by local militia. All of the patients he had fought so hard to save were killed. From this horrendous event he realized it was within his power to save lives with a scalpel or a bullet. […]
Kateb’s proclivity for conflict resolution is just one of a dozen skills that make him an asset to Rainbow. It’s clear the team trusts and respects him. He’s developed a strong bond with Specialist Emmanuelle “Twitch” Pichon, due in part to Pichon’s use of technology to lessen the risk on human lives. Unfortunately, there is also unresolved animosity with Specialist Olivier “Lion” Flament over quarantine procedures that saw several of Kateb’s aid worker friends killed. For now, the situation is stable, if nonreciprocal. That may be the best we can hope for.
-- Dr. Harishva “Harry” Pandey, Director of Rainbow