German elite army force must change after far-right links
July 1, 2020
Germany's defense minister has said the Special Forces Command (KSK) will not be immediately disbanded over far-right extremist links. Instead, she urged soldiers to change the elite unit from the inside out.
How right-wing is the Bundeswehr?
Germany's Special Forces Command (KSK) will not immediately be completely disbanded over far-right links, but given a short time to show it can change from within, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced on Wednesday.
"If we let things go on then the danger is indeed great that we will have a real structural problem for the future," she said.
The KSK has been part of the German Army since 1996. The group focuses on anti-terrorism operations and hostage rescues from hostile areas. Its members have served in Afghanistan and the Balkans, but its operations are kept secret.
Author and Bundeswehr expert Thomas Wiegold told DW that the minister was "trying to get rid of those toxic parts in this unit without disbanding the unit as a whole, without destroying the capability they need."
The extremism allegations go as far back as 2017, when KSK members at a commander's farewell party allegedly threw pig heads, played right-wing rock music and performed the Nazi salute.
A report by Germany's Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) in January revealed that 500 soldiers in the German military were being investigated for right-wing extremism.
MAD noted that 20 of the suspected right-wing extremism cases currently being processed were within the KSK. In relation to the number of personnel, this was five times the proportion in the rest of the Bundeswehr.
In May, police seized explosives and weapons at the home of a KSK soldier. Kramp-Karrenbauer had previously described the disappearance of 48,000 rounds of ammunition and 62 kilograms of explosives as "disturbing" and "alarming."