Final report on the KSK reform: “ominous bad culture”

Status: 09.06.2021 9:23 p.m.

The reforms at the Special Forces Command have almost been implemented, according to the final report. But there is also talk of “ominous bad culture” and a lack of rules. Critics see a need for further clarification.

From Birgit Schmeitzner,
ARD capital studio

First there were allegations of extremism, then there was a lack of ammunition – conditions in the Special Forces Command (KSK) that Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wanted to remedy with a fundamental reform. However, this reform always brought new structural construction sites to light for the elite association.

Birgit Schmeitzner
ARD capital studio

The Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, Eberhard Zorn, writes in the final report he has now presented about “unregulated areas”, also because the structure was not designed for the high operational load.

KSK reform measures mostly implemented

Martin Schmidt, ARD Berlin, day topics 22:15, 9.6.2021

The causes therefore go back to the past, at times this has led to an “ominous bad culture”. Zorn connects this with the sentence: “This involuntarily raises the question of the responsibility of former superiors.” You should have recognized the deficits earlier and remedied them, writes the general, who himself belongs to this group of people. However, there is no mention of any consequences in the report.

A good 90 percent of the requirements implemented

The highest-ranking soldier in the Bundeswehr sees the reform demanded by Kramp-Karrenbauer as already implemented in large parts: 90 percent of the points are done, the rest is on the home straight. Some things are already working, others will continue to be accompanied.

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Some points also have to remain open. The investigations into violations of public procurement law have not yet been completed, and KSK commander Markus Kreitmayr is also being investigated under official and criminal law. He had offered the soldiers to return ammunition with impunity.

Supervision, rotation, psychological support

There is a long list of innovations: additional posts, newly distributed responsibilities, stricter selection procedures and increased psychological care for soldiers. There should also be more educational opportunities for them, with the aim of strengthening them against extremist ideas.

In view of the improperly kept books on ammunition, there is more control and a four-eyes principle. And if there is suspicion of extremism and serious misconduct, it should be easier to transfer the person concerned.

Bundeswehrverband: “Carefully worked”

The Federal Armed Forces Association certifies that the KSK soldiers have shown the will for a sustainable association during the reform. Board member Andreas Steinmetz described the report as the basis for the further procedure, it had been “worked carefully”.

The CDU defense expert Henning Otte warned that the KSK must now be strengthened from within. It is a matter of “restoring combat capability, because the command must be ready for action every day from zero to one hundred”.

Greens: “The folder is not closed yet”

Ottes colleague in the Defense Committee of the Bundestag, the Green MP Tobias Lindner, is more critical. In his opinion, the KSK could not have continued without reforms. The final report now available does not mean that the minister can close the folder.

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Lindner sees too many unanswered questions, for example about “right-wing extremist networks, but also about this ominous ammunition amnesty and questionable contracts”. For a real restart for the special forces command, Kramp-Karrenbauer still has to rework.

How does the Minister of Defense decide?

The defense minister had disbanded part of the unit, the second company, in the summer. A decision that General Zorn sees as a success. There was a toxic management culture there, he writes in his report, indissoluble “encrusted structures”.

With a view to the reform, the question is whether that will be enough for the defense minister and she will leave the current structure of the elite unit as it is. On Monday, Kramp-Karrenbauer and Zorn visit the KSK at the Calw site. She will not announce any decision before this date.

KSK reform requirements implemented by more than 90 percent

Stephan Stuchlik, ARD Berlin, daily news 8 p.m., 9.6.2021

General Zorn had recently spoken out in favor of retaining the special forces. They are often the only ones who can counter a terrorist threat. Some KSK soldiers are currently in Afghanistan and are securing the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr there.

KSK final report: General Inspector sees almost all reform requirements met

Birgit Schmeitzner, ARD Berlin, 9.6.2021 8:47 p.m.

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