The Bundeswehr Special Forces Command (KSK) is partially dissolved and loses its previous autonomy. With this decision, Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) wants to break up the right-wing extremist network in the elite group.
The KSK had “become independent in part, also because there was a toxic leadership culture of individuals”, said KrampKarrenbauer of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. “It follows that the KSK cannot remain in its current state.”
At the same time, the unit was given a suspended period until autumn. If the conditions do not improve, the association threatens to be broken up.
The last trigger for Kramp-Karrenbauer’s intervention was a weapons and explosives warehouse that a KSK soldier suspected of being a right-wing extremist had set up in Saxony. The military shielding service had previously made the KSK the focus of investigations.
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The service currently knows 30 right-wing extremist suspected cases. MAD President Christof Gramm had only complained in a parliamentary hearing on Monday of a “wall of silence” that shields the suspects. In the course of the investigation, however, it also emerged that a MAD employee had pierced documents about the ongoing, partly covert investigation to a friend in the KSK.
“Wall of Silence Breaks”
“The wall of silence breaks,” the minister now told the “South German”. Specifically, one of the four companies of the elite unit in Calw in Baden-Württemberg, in which suspected right-wing extremists had clustered, was initially dissolved.
The suspects are immediately transferred to normal Bundeswehr units until their case and release have been decided.
The unencumbered soldiers of the approximately 70 men and women strong 2nd company are distributed to the remaining KSK associations after a check. Responsibility for training is removed from the unit and placed under the Army Infantry School in Hammelburg.
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In general, the elite soldiers, who so far have not been able to get out of the strictly shielded Calwer barracks, are to rotate to other stations in the Bundeswehr during their training and stay with the KSK for a shorter period.
This is to prevent the unconditional corps spirit and carcass obedience that a KSK captain recently reported on in a letter to the minister. In the aptitude test, significantly more emphasis should be placed on civic attitudes.
KSK commander remains
The attempt to reform should be monitored and controlled centrally under the supervision of the Inspector General. Commander Markus Kreitmayr, who has led the association since 2018 and had clearly addressed the problems, remains in his post.
However, the probation period also applies to him. During a visit to Calw on Monday, Kramp-Karrenbauer made it clear that each member of the elite group had to decide for himself whether he wanted to be part of the problem or the solution.
“But if the members of the KSK have not heard this shot now, the question of reorganizing the KSK will inevitably arise,” she warned.
KSK: founded in 1996
The KSK was set up in 1996 on the model of British, French and American elite troops. Its members specialize in hostage release and other covert operations, about which only a few members of the Bundestag are secretly informed.
On Tuesday, Kramp-Karrenbauer fundamentally recognized the merits of the secretly operating unit on Saarland radio, which had already saved many lives. “We definitely need special forces,” she said. But you need special trust in them.
Farewell party with Hitler salute and pig’s head
The suspicion that the troops were infiltrated to the far right first arose after a farewell party for a commander in 2017, playing right rock music, showing the Hitler salute and throwing pig heads.
The sergeant-in-chief also took part in this ceremony, with investigators recently securing two kilos of explosives, 6000 rounds of ammunition and weapons from Bundeswehr stocks in Saxony.
Kramp-Karrenbauer called the incident “alarming”.
It has to be clarified where this arsenal comes from. The KSK always shoots with live ammunition exercises. The evidence books were apparently extremely sloppy. According to a report for the Bundestag, it is no longer possible to see in the shooting books and material lists where 48,000 rounds and 62 kilograms of explosives have remained.