MAD boss Gramm has not fought extremism enough and has to go.
For five years, Christof Gramm was at the head of the Military Counter-Intelligence Service, the smallest of the German secret services, which is specifically responsible for defense against danger within the Bundeswehr, i.e. within its ranks. On Thursday, his boss, Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, traveled to the MAD headquarters in Cologne to notify Gramm of the dismissal from October. His transfer to temporary retirement is nothing more than that for the 62-year-old – the dismissal.
A personal arrival of the minister for this purpose seems quite unusual. The impression arises of a boss trying to be lenient at the moment of separation. Their reasoning does not sound reproachful either: The new section in the fight against extremist tendencies in the Bundeswehr and in the modernization of the MAD requires “additional efforts and dynamism”.
In 2017, the ministry commissioned the MAD to get to the bottom of the situation in the Bundeswehr, which led to a steadily growing number of incidents with a right-wing extremist background. The responsible minister, then still Ursula von der Leyen, made the internal command of the Bundeswehr the subject of public debate, a taboo zone that had been well-guarded until then. Whether and what resistance from der Leyen and later, after handing over to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, this felt in the ranks and at the top of the MAD, can only be speculated about. It soon became apparent that they had a difficult time with their resolute action, not only in public but also in the ranks of the Bundeswehr. Reforms of the MAD were initiated in October 2019, which, according to the Ministry of Defense, are now producing results. The investigation of incidents in the Special Forces Command reportedly also went back to investigations by the MAD.
These incidents and the fact that they reached the public eye through the media, of course, put the minister under pressure again. Thousands of rounds of ammunition, undetectable explosives and right-wing extremist activities in the ranks of the elite unit led to the dissolution of a company. According to critics, Christof Kramm, who is by nature a lawyer and not a military man, had followed the mantra that has been common for decades that it is not the Bundeswehr but individual soldiers who have a right-wing extremism problem. This is clearly not enough for the ambitions of his minister. Comment on page 8