The German Defense Ministry is going to dissolve the country’s top Special Operations unit over a series of right-wing scandals.
According to an exclusive report by the Frankfurter Allgemeine, the Kommando Spezialkrafte (KSK) is losing at least one-quarter of its strength as troops suspected of right-wing extremism are either canned or suspended. The unit has approximately 300 assaulters, divided into four assault companies. It will now be losing at least 70 operators.
To put things into perspective and get a better understanding of the issue, what is happening in the KSK is the equivalent of Delta Force or SEAL Team Six losing a whole assault squadron. Considering the lengthy selection & assessment process, follow-on operator training, and specialized courses that operators have to go through to be considered deployable, the disbandment of a whole company is a considerable loss to the combat readiness of the KSK and, indeed, to the German military’s Special Operations capabilities.
SOFREP has previously reported on the issue. In May, German police and military counterintelligence raided the house of a KSK sergeant major, discovering large quantities of explosives, weapons, and ammunition, presumably stolen from the unit. The senior non-commissioned officer was arrested and kicked out of the unit. And in December, several commandos had been suspended because of their affiliation to right-wing groups.
This extraordinary decision by the German Defense Ministry comes after the military’s counterintelligence agency (MAD) failed to make any headway in its investigation of right-wing extremism within the ranks of the elite unit. According to the reports, counterintelligence officers couldn’t get the commandos to cooperate in their investigation.
“An analysis of current events and right-wing extremist cases makes it clear,” said German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in a statement “that the KSK, at least in some areas, has become independent in recent few years, under the influence of an unhealthy understanding of elites by individual leaders.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer stated that a complete disbandment of the unit is highly likely if the upcoming reformations don’t produce the desired effect.
The head of MAD, Christof Gramm, said that “anyone who negates the state of our constitution, who lives in an extremely acute friend-foe thinking, who expresses himself racist, xenophobic or anti-Semitic, cannot and must not find a home in the Bundeswehr.”
But the German military isn’t stopping to just canning a quarter of the men. Going forward, the KSK is losing its training autonomy as all individual- and unit-level training will be handled by the Army Infantry School. Furthermore, commandos will be rotated throughout assault teams, troops, and squadrons at regular intervals in an attempt to stop the creation of similar right-wing hubs. Although there is little question that the German military is acting on a legitimate and serious problem, the measures taken are bound to adversely affect the combat effectiveness of the unit. And yet, the upcoming level of micromanagement is to be expected from a country and military that are haunted by their Nazi past.
The KSK was established in 1996 as the country’s Tier 1 Special Operations unit. It specializes in Direct Action (DA), Special Reconnaissance, and Counterterrorism (CT) missions. The unit has seen action in Afghanistan (the KSK was one of the first Coalition Special Operations units to join the American-led campaign to hunt down al-Qaeda) and Africa (KSK elements are currently operating in the Sahel combating the Islamist insurgency in the region; their presence in Mali, in particular, was recently extended until 2021).