The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Högl, has called for a more precise definition of the role of the elite unit, the Special Forces Command (KSK), in national and alliance defense. She referred to the changed security policy situation after Russia's attack on Ukraine and NATO's increased deterrence along the eastern flank. "The special forces should have a role in national and alliance defense. This applies to all special forces, those of the Air Force, the Navy, as well as the KSK," Högl told the German Press Agency. And: "If the KSK is given new tasks, for example in national and alliance defense, if it is under greater demand, then it must be better staffed."
Future missions of the KSK
It must be clarified whether and how Germany wants to use special forces in national and alliance defense with skills that go beyond the rescue of hostages and rescue operations, said Högl. "It's about reconnaissance, for example, or using them in difficult situations with small units. Despite all the secrecy, there also needs to be a political discussion. And that has to take place in the defense committee and in parliament."
A good two years ago, the future of the elite unit seemed to be hanging in the balance after right-wing extremist incidents, the discovery of a soldier's weapon cache and irregularities in the handling of ammunition. The 2nd company of the command based in Calw (Baden-Württemberg) was dissolved in July 2020. In addition, the association was prescribed a program consisting of 60 individual measures, which has now practically been completed.
That's what Högl says about the KSK
"The reform package has worked and it has also been implemented well and consistently. Some points, such as political education, are permanent tasks. You have to keep an eye on them all the time," said Högl. "The processing at the KSK provides sufficient reason to now end the phase of permanent doubt, to look ahead and to trust him in terms of loyalty to the constitution, performance and commitment." It is unsatisfactory that legal proceedings have still not been completed. Högl: "The procedures take far too long."
Strack-Zimmermann: KSK is "essential"
The chairwoman of the defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), said that a special forces command was "essential for a powerful modern army". She emphasized: "The result of their abilities, which cannot be fulfilled by conventional units, will also always be an important strategic tool." Parliamentary control is necessary, but transparency finds limits where the mission is endangered or operations for future missions are ineffective.
Even before the federal elections, the FDP demanded that the organizational structure and the control over the operations of the special forces of the army, navy and air force be combined. Strack-Zimmermann: "If their geographical locations are retained, they will be directly subordinate to the military command in the Ministry of Defense. The Minister and the Inspector General can then use them according to the situation and also monitor them." Lack of control was a problem. "Suspected extremist cases should be cleared up immediately. The fact that something like this takes years due to a lack of staff in the military courts is unacceptable," said Strack-Zimmermann.
These are the German special forces
The Bundeswehr's special forces also include the Navy's combat swimmers and the 4th squadron of Helicopter Squadron 64 in the Air Force. In addition, there are so-called specialized forces that can be used together with the commando soldiers or independently of them.
Specialized forces from the air force and navy are to train in Estonia in October to protect the critical infrastructure of the eastern NATO partner. According to information from the German Press Agency, more than 150 soldiers from Germany will take part in the "Baltic Tiger 2022" exercise at peak times, coming from the Sea Battalion and the Air Force Object Protection Regiment. The training program also includes securing communication routes and troops "on the march", as may be necessary when relocating reinforcement forces.
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces Special Forces Command (KSK) of the Bundeswehr