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  • KSK - German Special Forces Command

    Due to neonazis and similar rightwing extremists basically taking over part of the Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK), the Minister of Defence is taking action - after three years of investigations. Detailing them here since in rather shortened format this is hitting international news slowly right now, probably not covering just how deep this goes.

    The measures are intended to primarily address internal issues of KSK discovered in the investigations, but also - following a discovery of ammunition stocked "at home" by a KSK soldier - missing ammunition (estimated to be at least around 80,000 rounds plus 62 kg of explosives) and the fact that MAD personnel involved in the investigations was slipping KSK personnel information on it. In addition the very recent investigation of extremist reservists plays into the package.


    Immediate Suspension:
    • KSK is ordered to "concentrate on the task of rebuilding itself", being given "a chance to regain trust".
    • All missions and training deployments of KSK are suspended indefinitely. Functions on active deployments, where possible, will be covered by other units.

    Formal Restructuring of KSK:
    • The 2nd company of the unit - the one affected - will be permanently dissolved.
    • The recently created SOCC company, stationed separately from KSK, will be detached from it and placed directly under command of the Rapid Forces Division.
    • All training functions will be removed from KSK and placed with the Infantry School, also switching Divisions (i.e. oversight) from the Rapid Forces Division to the Army Training Command.

    Internal Reorganization:
    • The battalions belonging to KSK (both combat and support) will get new posts for deputy battalion commanders, as well as increasing their staff with regard to sections 1, 2 and 4 (personnel, intelligence, logistics). An advisory board headed by the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr will oversee this process.
    • All leadership posts -officers, NCOs - within KSK will have a maximum on-post time before a soldier is moved to a different post. All soldiers newly posted to such posts are from now on required to have had experience in command and training of soldiers in units outside KSK.
    • All commando teams - non-leadership posts, and on a per-team basis - will be rotated between all companies of the unit, regularly switching them. All soldiers newly posted to such posts are from now on required to have served in other units outside KSK before.

    MAD - Military Counterintelligence Service:
    • The President of MAD will work out a package of internal measures, including obligatory implementation plan, and present it to the Minister by end of August. Measures shall address internal organizations, methods and lines of communication towards the Ministry of Defence and the German Parliament.
    • The President of MAD will investigate all personnel involved with the KSK investigations among his staff, as well as investigating all MAD personnel for contacts with KSK personnel. Announcement in this regard is pretty much that if you are not keeping professional distance to other Armed Forces members as a MAD officer you're not supposed to be in this post.

    Other Repercussions:
    • The commander of the Rapid Forces Division is ordered to perform a full inventory audit among his forces immediately. The Rapid Forces Division will introduce a digital system "correctly representing stocks of ammunition and equipment". A working group headed by the Inspector General of the Army will audit the use and disposition of ammunition from deployments, missions and training exercises in general - report to be presented early 2021.
    • The Ministry of Defence is planning to implement a new "Level 4" security check specifically for "particularly sensitive posts including in KSK" that shall involve "a more intensive wider check of personal environment" and "more frequent repeat checks".
    • The Ministry of Defence will also be introducing regular security checks for reservists. In addition it will examine together with the Ministry of the Interior how the present cooperation between Bundeswehr, reservist associations and the Federal Constitutional Protection Service (= domestic intelligence) can be expanded for the purpose of combatting extremist tendencies among reservists.


    The Minister of Defence will review by October 31st this year whether the reorganization of KSK is sufficiently implemented and fruitful with regard to the target of eradicating extremist tendencies, toxic leadership culture and separatist-elitarian commando culture within KSK. Should this not be the case a possible dissolution of the entire KSK is on the table.
    Last edited by kato; 01 Jul 20,, 20:53.

  • #2
    Due to the gravity of the problem and a look towards transparence on the issue the 55-page formal report on the investigations is not classified. The investigations were headed by the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr and its process chaperoned by the Parliamentary Commissioner of the Armed Forces as well as members of the Parliamentary Defense Committee.

    Starting with part 1, as overview:

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    KSK is a brigade-level command which directly commands about 12 companies organized in four "departments" (from left: development, combat, support, training). Development is a minor department not quite integral to the brigade command that handles weapons procurement, development of procedures and training, cooperation with other forces and such. The SOCC company is semi-separate from the departments.

    Issues:
    • While the two main departments - combat and support - are battalion-level structures, they do not have a battalion-level staff but instead for staff purposes rely on the brigade-level command of KSK itself. This is addressed by giving these departments a partial battalion-level staff to address the most immediate issues (personnel, intelligence, logistics) with what will likely be a major in command of this staff. In addition this somewhat relieves the brigade commander from his direct oversight over such a wide command span.
    • The separate training department is considered not relevant to missions. To break up the development of extremist tendencies through internal training it is therefore moved out of KSK. Training may still take place at the KSK base in Calw, however under the auspices of the Army Training Command and the Infantry School with separate personnel. The department also includes recruiting for KSK, which will move to the Rapid Forces Division instead. The "selection board" - choosing whether to accept an application - will continue to consist of KSK personnel, but will from now on include the deputy commander of the Army Training Command as well as "other select personnel" from other parts of the Army.
    • The semi-separate SOCC company, in order to not be drawn into the KSK nimbus, is moved away from it. Its functionality does not have much to do directly with KSK, and is intended to provide a SOCC field HQ for multinational forces under NATO. The move is portrayed as "relieving KSK" by lowering its command span.

    The report explores a possible move of KSK from the Army to direct oversight of the MoD. This is rejected as it would break up the "special forces group" within the Army, which other than KSK also includes various "specialized forces" - within the Rapid Forces Division - assigned to support it.
    Last edited by kato; 01 Jul 20,, 21:28.

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    • #3
      The 2nd Company:

      Issues
      • During a farewell party for the former company commander soldiers were showing Hitler salutes and listening to music of right-wing extremist bands. A prostitute hired for the party exposed this publicly, based on which investigations both by MAD and by the State Constitutional Protection Service of the state of Thuringia were launched.
      • Investigations by MAD staked out a group of 30 soldiers within the company who are suspected of extremist tendencies. Further investigations are hampered by MAD facing a "wall of silence" within the company as well as a "personal cult" based on interpersonal relations between special forces soldiers having served together for years.
      • In May 2020, one of the soldiers of this group, based on investigations and a subsequent search of his residence, was found to have stockpiled a weapons depot including a full automatic Kalashnikov, several kg of explosives in pre-arranged blocks, several dozen fuzes, several thousand rounds of ammunition and several dozen other items such as tear gas grenades, flares, knives, air rifles and such. The findings prompted a higher-level investigation of the soldier, the group and KSK in general ordered by the Ministry of Defense.
      • The investigations board suggests the disbanding of the 2nd company as the only possible short-term solution to break up groups and interrelations formed within it.


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      The Commander of the Bundeswehr Deployment Command - responsible for all deployments of the Bundeswehr abroad, including KSK missions - will conduct a structural study of special forces both nationally (GSG9) and internationally. This is intended to possibly long-term restructure the Special Forces of the Bundeswehr in general to address such issues.
      Last edited by kato; 01 Jul 20,, 21:51.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by kato View Post
        Due to neonazis and similar rightwing extremists basically taking over part of the Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK)
        What in the ever lovin' f--k???
        Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

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        • #5
          Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
          What in the ever lovin' f--k???
          MAD investigates about 500-600 soldiers per year on suspicion of extremist tendencies - and investigations by MAD are never started without some sort of evidence; most common for that init are xenophobic statements in social media. About 50 extremists per year are dismissed from service.

          About 60 soldiers per year fail background checks for "lack of loyalty to the constitution" that are performed on their behalf (and with their knowledge) in order to give them access to classified data of certain levels. That's 60 out of 50,000 though, including about 23,000 background checks of new recruits.

          Among reservists of the Bundeswehr about 300-350 per year are banned from doing active service for "grave doubts about loyalty to the constitution". Investigating in that field is only a relatively recent activity though, so that's somewhat likely to go down.


          Tendencies of this kind in the KSK have been pandered around for about 20 years. There's e.g. that episode from 2001 of patrol vehicles used by KSK members in preparation for Afghanistan (in a training camp in Oman) decorated with symbols of the Afrikakorps, where upon this becoming a bit public five years later (!) journalists turned up a supposed KSK soldier who claimed that "yeah, we've got some political die-hards like that in the unit" and that they had been doing the same thing at their homebase in Calw, Germany. Investigations led to six soldiers being dismissed back then, but for the most part the MoD managed to dodge the affair. Beneficial to this dodging was that the brigadier general in command of KSK in 2001 had already been dismissed in 2003 for supporting a politician making antisemitic speeches.

          Some cases show a very long continuity too : One soldier suspended from service this April is a staff sergeant - who was in KSK when the stuff in the paragraph above took place - who was previously accused of torturing a Turkish-German guy at Kandahar Air Base in 2002 (who ended up in Guantanamo Bay, until he was cleared of all accusations years later). He was formally cleared for "lack of evidence" and later became part of "Army Liaison Group 12" working out of Fort Bragg. Recent MAD investigation found he is following the Identitarian movement and has supported them with donations too.
          Last edited by kato; 02 Jul 20,, 00:47.

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          • #6
            P.S.
            Originally posted by kato View Post
            • The Ministry of Defence will also be introducing regular security checks for reservists. In addition it will examine together with the Ministry of the Interior how the present cooperation between Bundeswehr, reservist associations and the Federal Constitutional Protection Service (= domestic intelligence) can be expanded for the purpose of combatting extremist tendencies among reservists.
            This mostly stems from the recent discovery - two weeks ago - of a group who were "preparing for a race war" in 2015. The armed group included several reservists planning to occupy a village in north Saxony on "Day X" and defend it militarily, and for this purpose actively tried to smuggle further members into the reservist organization for training. These reservists had posts within the Territorial State Command of neighboring Saxony-Anhalt. Most of the group members were part of a traditional fraternity in Saxony. There are some tenuous connections to Uniter, a paramilitary group founded by former KSK members.

            The President of the Reservist Association announced as a followup that all 115,000 members of his organization will be checked into, and that he is seeking to improve communications with intelligence services on the matter.

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            • #7
              The head of the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD), Christof Gramm, is officially "retiring" - after the Minister of Defence visited his agency in person for a lengthy one-on-one talk today, and the Parliamentary Control Committee for intelligence services spent a two-day visit there yesterday and today.

              Opposition members on the Parliamentary Control Committee see the step as "inevitable" due to the "many slip-ups and odd procedures" in connection with the KSK case.

              Gramm is 62, and has been working for the Ministry of Defense in various civilian posts for 18 years, in the last 12 years in various functions of oversight/responsibility with regard to MAD. He was president of MAD since 2015.

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              • #8
                Brigadier General Kreitmayer, head of KSK, is currently stumbling over the affair.

                During March to May 2020, i.e. immediately before the whole thing broke, he allowed soldiers of the unit to hand in "found" ammunition anonymously. In total about 46,000 rounds of ammunition (and two hand grenades) were handed in, although 90% of that was training ammo.

                The commander of the Rapid Forces Division, Major General Hannemann, began a disciplinary hearing against Kreitmayer based on this and has since transferred the case to the MoD (disciplinary proceedings against generals can only be started by the MoD). The Minister is currently evaluating whether to follow up on that in a proper military court.

                This comes up as a result of the Final Report of the "Taskforce Ammunition and security relevant Material" that was set up to investigate logistics mishandlings in KSK last year. The taskforce among other things also discovered that KSK was regularly ignoring the Wermutshausen ammunition depot - with around 2 million articles - in its inventory listings (and that Wermutshausen was doing inventory manually on paper since it is not connected to the central SASPF instance...). Also, a KSK mission in Cameroon led to several 10,000 rounds of ammunition being booked as returned to stocks when they were actually stored at a German embassy somewhere in West Africa.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by kato View Post
                  Brigadier General Kreitmayer, head of KSK, is currently stumbling over the affair.
                  BG Kreitmayer is being replaced as head of KSK in September.

                  The post he will be shifted over to is "Department Head for Training" at the Armed Forces Office. This post is typically used for high-ranking officers considered that you want to keep them out of the public light, but still as a valid contributor to the force. Currently it is held by BG Georg Klein, who ordered a controversial airstrike in Afghanistan in 2009 in which about 100 civilians died.

                  Kreitmayer will be replaced by BG Ansgar Meyer. Meyer, former commander of the 21st Armoured Brigade, is currently commander of TAAC-N and the German deployment contingent in Afghanistan and thus needs a new post anyway after the withdrawal will conclude in about three months.


                  Originally posted by kato View Post
                  The commander of the Rapid Forces Division is ordered to perform a full inventory audit among his forces immediately. The Rapid Forces Division will introduce a digital system "correctly representing stocks of ammunition and equipment".
                  The current commander of the Rapid Forces Division, Major General Hannemann, will be shifted over to a post as deputy commander of the German-Dutch Corps. Officially this transfer has been "long-planned" and is not connected. However also in this lateral shift Hannemann is not getting promoted and will remain a two-star general.

                  Hannemann will be replaced by former commander of the 1st Airborne Brigade (the main German brigade in the division) BG Dirk Faust, currently head of Strategy and Tactics II subdepartment at the MoD.


                  In addition a new "Director of Special Forces" post will be formed at the Armed Forces Command as a brigadier general post. This will be an oversight and coordination authority for all special forces in the Bundeswehr - besides KSK (for the army) this is also the KSM combat divers (for the Navy) and the 4th squadron of Helicopter Transport Wing 64 (for the Air Force - operating H145M helos specifically for KSK/KSM use).


                  Originally posted by kato View Post
                  Tendencies of this kind in the KSK have been pandered around for about 20 years.supported them with donations too.
                  Since 2017 (begin of investigations) the Internal Intelligence Service MAD has apparently run investigations into "about 50" suspect cases for extremism among soldiers of KSK. About half of these were related to the "farewell party" mentioned under "Issues" in an earlier post.
                  Six of these cases have been discharged from service (one through a court sentence), seven cases were dropped and closed as "no longer valid" ("categorized Green"), in 18 cases the soldiers were transferred or otherwise "left KSK". They do not mention the remaining ~19 cases beyond that, which means those are currently still active. One of these 19 suspect cases was categorized as an extremist ("Orange") after the dissolution of the 2nd company.

                  MAD has not uncovered a "network" among soldiers of the 2nd company under the definition of §4 BVerfSchG - the standard classification for domestic intelligence services in Germany: i.e. people who act together as a group and support a joint cause for the purpose of removing the free-democratic basic order (FDGO) or components of it. FDGO is what soldiers in the Bundeswehr and all other public servants are required to uphold.
                  MAD however has found that there is "a mesh of contacts and acquaintances of various kinds and intensity between some of the people under investigation which is carried by a common mentality and will be further investigated".

                  In total the WDA (military justice authority) of the Rapid Forces Division and other WDAs as of May 2021 had 56 (!) open disciplinary cases related to the ongoing investigations; 32 of these are for rightwing-extremism, 14 are related to ammunition mishandling, 2 for unauthorized side jobs. Most of these cases are still at the investigations stage, about 25 are in military court.

                  There are additionally investigations into procurement for KSK (which was handled by a nearby BwDLZ civilian administration service center), where an investigations team is going through about all procurement contracts for KSK since 2014. Based on the sample size covered so far and resulting preliminary disciplinary investigations that could easily become as many as 25-30 cases. No cases of corruption have been uncovered in these investigations. The official statement is that "there is significant need for improvement with regard to contracting accomodating legal requirements both with KSK and this BwDLZ". Seems to be mostly about not getting competing bids on procurement above certain financial value and such. There were also "inefficiencies" and "insufficiencies" in using own separate service contracts by that DLZ when they could have pulled from framework contracts which have since been straightened out.
                  Last edited by kato; 17 Jun 21,, 09:59.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kato View Post
                    In addition a new "Director of Special Forces" post will be formed at the Armed Forces Command as a brigadier general post. This will be an oversight and coordination authority for all special forces in the Bundeswehr - besides KSK (for the army) this is also the KSM combat divers (for the Navy) and the 4th squadron of Helicopter Transport Wing 64 (for the Air Force - operating H145M helos specifically for KSK/KSM use).
                    The "Director of Special Forces" will be Kapitän zur See Stephan Plath (yet to be promoted). He used to be company commander for the combat diver company of the Navy, then became commander of the SEK-M naval infantry forces. After that he got a consultant post in the Chancellery and currently is personal adjutant for Minister of Defense Kramp-Karrenbauer.

                    While at least the guy is "from that kinda field" it does smack of the minister taking care to get "her guys" some jobs before the new government takes over. She also shuffled her protocol chief into a deputy commander post for the 1st Armoured Division at the same time and permanently extended the contract of her civilian chief-of-staff.

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