German military counterintelligence has discovered several potential neo-Nazis in the country’s Tier 1 Special Operations unit.

According to German media reports, the Kommando Spezialkrafte (KSK), an equivalent to Delta Force and the British Special Air Service (SAS), has been infiltrated by neo-Nazis. At least one operator has been kicked out of the unit and two more face a similar fate.

This isn’t the first unit that the KSK has been investigated for far-right infiltration. In 2017, similar suspicions had been raised, without any consequence, however. And earlier this year a seasoned KSK operator was also kicked out over connections with a far-right organization.

In the last few years alone, Militärischer Abschirmdienst (MAD), the military counterintelligence, has opened more than two dozen investigations relating to far-right extremism into the unit.

The most recent investigation began after MAD was tipped with information about the operator’s actions and political leanings.

Pretty much anything that can be associated with the Nazi Party is illegal in Germany, including wearing the Svastika or making the Nazi salute.

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German society is still haunted by the country’s actions during the Second World War. And this is reflected in how German governments, regardless of political affiliation, treat defence — that is, as an uncomfortable necessity, never exceeding the absolute basics. That doesn’t mean, of course, that the German military is inept. It means, rather, that its effectiveness is limited.

German servicemembers, moreover, have to face a dilemma: You can’t erase a nation’s military history. The Nazis might have been the bad guys, but the German military performed brilliantly during the War. Units like the Waffen SS might have been responsible for rampant war crimes, but at the same time, they were devastatingly effective and lethal on the battlefield. And there lies the conundrum: The German military wants to feel proud about their forefathers and honor their achievements, but without seeming to endorse their abominable actions.

It goes without saying that not all Germans who fought in the War were war criminals.

KSK was established in 1996. It’s the German military’s Tier 1 Special Operations unit. KSK specializes in Direct Action (DA), Special Reconnaissance and Counterterrorism (CT) operations. It has been quite active in Afghanistan (one of the first Coalition units to join the U.S. SOF in their operations against al-Qaeda targets) and Africa (KSK elements are currently operating in the Sahel combating the Islamist insurgency in the region).