Berlin (dpa) – The incidents in the Special Forces Command (KSK) are seen by the Bundeswehr leadership as evidence of long-tolerated construction faults in the elite unit.
“The causes that led to the unwanted developments and grievances go back a long way,” said an internal letter by which Army Inspector Lieutenant General Anton Mais informed Inspector General Eberhard Zorn of the state of the investigation. In connection with the discovery of a weapons stockpile by a KSK soldier in May last year, Mais writes about “incidents of an unimaginable scale”.
The KSK has been shaken in recent years by various scandals surrounding right-wing extremist incidents. Current KSK commander Markus Kreitmayr took over command in 2018 and is said to be leading a reform process that is now stalling. The brigadier general is accused of his soldiers being able to throw hoarded or possibly stolen ammunition into boxes (“amnesties”) between March and May last year without any consequences. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wants to present the state of the art to specialized politicians in the Bundestag on Wednesday.
Mais writes that in his first year as an inspector he made six visits to the KSK barracks in Calw (Baden-Württemberg). «Then I come to the conclusion that organizational errors in the basic setup of the KSK, continuous training, practice and operational pressure at the highest level, lack of regeneration phases, persistent staff shortages, overload in basic administrative operations and also non-existent compensation for overload within the special forces of the army have created a climate in which individuals and groups of members of the KSK have clearly lost their orientation, size and focus in their individual attitudes and their professional achievements, ”he said in the letter. It circulates at the Ministry of Defense and is available to the German press agency.
The senior army soldier announces that he will deal with dereliction of duty according to the rules and will also call in the prosecutor’s office. However, he advocates trust in the soldiers serving in the KSK today, who are not responsible for the terms and conditions. In view of possible danger situations, he defends that the investigation initially focused on right-wing extremism and a lack of ammunition, and not ammunition that was collected illegally but was subsequently also confiscated.
It is also important not to question the capabilities of the KSK in view of a “volatile security policy situation”. The internal and external pressures “are not without implications for operational readiness,” he warns. Deviations from the standard should only be allowed if absolutely necessary.
However, the opposition in the Bundestag has already indicated that they want to fathom all allegations against the commando soldiers. The information pressure continues to exist and is primarily aimed at the ministry. Recently, there has been criticism because details of the “amnesty” for the return of hoarded or stolen ammunition have not been made public by the ministry, although the military had reported it at the top.
The allegation is still in the room that Kreitmayr made the single-handed decision to set up collection bins, possibly even inventing the method. But it doesn’t seem that way anymore. For example, a directive from April 2019 on ‘ammunition safety when storing ammunition in action’ – mind you in action – states that so-called ‘amnesty boxes’ were used for safety and were intended to store ‘black stocks’ of ammunition in the troops.
The directive specifies the procedure if, upon completion of an assignment and return to the field camp or at the end of the return home mission, unused ammunition or ammunition that has not been returned to the supply chain is with the soldiers. In terms of ammunition security, it would then have to be stored in a so-called “Amnesty Box”. And: “If ammunition is found during the regular inspection of the” Amnesty Box “, it must be treated as found ammunition.”