Germany is reforming its elite special forces, the Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) for its Right Wing tendencies. The Bundeswehr’s elite units are under the cloud after its ranks were found with links to the right-wing extremism. The first incident that brought the elite units to the spotlight was in April 2017 when the KSK members performed Nazi Salute which is now banned in Germany. They also played with a Pig head while listening to hard rock music. In May 2020, Nazi literature, weapons and explosives were dug up from the private property of a KSK soldier.
The secretive Kommando Spezialkräfte was raised in 1996 to combat terrorism and hostage rescue in hostile areas. The group has served in Afghanistan. KSK soldiers are selected from the ranks of Germany’s Bundeswehr and organized under the Division Schnelle Kräfte (Rapid Forces Division). Previously a highly trained police force, the GSG 9, handled the functions and was created after the hostage-taking during the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. But neither GSG 9 nor the Bundeswehr ‘Bravo Platoons’ were trained for guerrilla warfare in hostile conditions. The need to form KSK was felt in 1994 when the Belgian Para commandos had to be employed to evacuate German citizens from Rwanda during the genocide. Following the raising of KSK, except one rest of the GSG 9 and FSLK200 (Fernspählehrkompanie 200) ( reconnaissance company) were either merged with KSK or disbanded. KSK has an approximate count of 1700 members and headquartered at Calw, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
The 2nd company, of KSK’s four combat companies, has been already disbanded as it is beyond reform as per the German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Rest of the KSK has been given time to reform themselves and Kramp-Karrenbauer has warned that the entire KSK might be dissolved if the problems continue.
Right-Wing tendencies are not just confined to the KSK. As per Der Militärische Abschirmdienst (MAD) (Military Counterintelligence Service), it is investigating over 550 soldiers for right-wing extremism. MAD has admitted of underreporting the rightwing cases while addressing the issue in the lower house of the parliament ( Bundestag). The agency has not placed routine checks in place for identifying right-wing extremism tendencies among the recruits.
As per a report by Germany’s Defence Ministry, the rise in right-wing extremism in KSK is due to its partial independence from the chain of command. The outfit as developed a ‘toxic leadership culture’ the defence minister Kramp-Karrenbauer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Right-Wing extremism is not the only problem Bundeswehr faces. MAD is also investigating cases of Islamists, Reich citizens, left-wing extremism and foreign extremism (including sympathizers of the Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK) within the ranks.