400 soldiers in great practice: KSK begins normality with “Black Star”

400 soldiers in great practice
KSK begins normality with “Black Star”

Germany’s military command unit has recently made headlines with scandals and incidents of extremism. According to the chief of staff, the KSK is now looking ahead. “Errors” are “recognized and eliminated”. A new commander should soon take over the “well-established unit”.

The Bundeswehr’s Special Forces Command (KSK) trained operations to free German hostages abroad with a large-scale exercise in northern Germany. “We are still ready for action and have always been. This is already shown by the deployment during the withdrawal in Afghanistan,” said the chief of staff, a lieutenant colonel, at the Trollenhagen air base in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. For security reasons, the KSK does not name its soldiers.

More than 400 soldiers and representatives from other security agencies are involved in the ongoing special forces exercise “Black Star”. These include negotiation experts from the Federal Criminal Police Office and experts from the Federal Intelligence Service. The KSK opens itself to the public for the first time during such an exercise.

The scenario: A German citizen has been kidnapped in the fictional country “Zubalia” and is to be freed. An operations center is being set up as a command post at Trollenhagen Air Base. Drone videos run on screens and a digital situation map is provided with information. Special forces with weapons are ready in a hangar. The participants in the exercise go through three courses of action over a period of four weeks, ranging from liberation by negotiation to the use of military force. According to the KSK, the exercise is based on real tactics by kidnapping groups. The last of the three scenarios is running on Sunday. It boils down to a KSK deployment for violent liberation. 200 tons of material, 22 tents and 2.5 tons of ammunition were brought to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania for the exercise.

AKK decided against the dissolution of the KSK

The ability to free hostages is part of Germany’s national crisis and risk prevention and is one of the tasks of the KSK. The association was set up in 1996 and had its first missions in 1998 in the former Yugoslavia. Most recently, KSK soldiers were deployed to secure the withdrawal from Afghanistan. However, the KSK was also shaken by several scandals and right-wing extremist incidents and has now undergone a reform process.

“We have recognized mistakes and remedied them. Now we want to and must look ahead. We have orders that we have to fulfill,” said the chief of staff. “This exercise is also the starting point for normality after this stressful year. The uncertain future has also affected motivation for some. Now the future has been clarified with the decision of our minister.” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had decided that the unit should not be dissolved. Brigadier General Ansgar Meyer, the last German commander in Afghanistan, will take over the command of the KSK in September. “We will hand over a well-established unit to the new commander of the KSK in September. Preparing for the takeover is a priority for us after this exercise,” said the chief of staff.