Paratrooper Companies B1 (Command)
The paratrooper companies B1 , also known as command companies , were the command components or special units of the German Bundeswehr established in the early 1990s and at the same time the predecessor of today's Special Forces Command (KSK).
In 1989/1990 the Bundeswehr began to design and then set up a command company in each of the three airborne brigades 25 "Black Forest" , 26 "Saarland" , 27 "Lippstadt" , which was an initial rethink in the direction of special military operations the Bundeswehr was.
In 1992 each of the three German Army Corps was provided with a B1 paratrooper company (command) for special uses in its area of operation. The field of activity corresponded to that of comparable special units.
The companies were set up in the parachute battalions of the "Type 2" parachute battalions according to an early organizational measure of Army Structure V ("modified" Army Structure 4). There, the 5th heavy paratrooper companies and the 5th anti-aircraft airborne defense companies were reclassified into a B1 paratrooper company (command).
When, in April 1994, after long deliberations by the German government, eleven German employees of Deutsche Welle were rescued and transported away by paratroopers from the Belgian Para-Commando-Brigade from their transmitter station, which was surrounded by rebels near the civil war- torn Rwandan capital of Kigali , the German command companies were ready and allowed but fail to operate due to political concerns and allegedly insufficient powers.
After this crisis it became clear that readjustment was necessary in this area and that a concept for the deployment of German special forces had to be developed, because in previous years Germany had to rely on the help of friendly states for similar missions, such as evacuations in 1990/1991 in Iraq , Saudi Arabia and Israel , in 1991 in Kinshasa / Congo or in 1994 in Yemen .
In 1996 the command companies were dissolved as a result of the restructuring of the Bundeswehr. From parts of the Fallschirmjägerkommando- and Fernspähkompanien that grew Special Forces Command (KSK ), which, at the same time, since April 1, 1996 with the withdrawal of the LLBrig 25 "Black Forest" in its former location in Calw up the same on September 20 year officially was put into service.
For Operation Libelle , a German evacuation operation in Albania at the end of March 1997, the KSK did not have sufficient forces available, so that they were still provided by paratroopers from Airborne Brigade 26 and support forces from the SFOR contingent from the German Rajlovac camp under the command of Colonel Henning Glawatz had to be carried out.
The first operational train of the KSK for the operational option "Rescue and Liberate" was officially announced on April 1, 1997 with 20 men to be able to rescue German citizens worldwide from emergency situations.
The assignment The paratrooper company B1 fights with the commands individually or in groups on their own in the entire area of responsibility and interests of a corps and leads commandos against objectives of operational importance, which means in detail:
- Direct combat missions . Carrying out independent commando operations in the enemy hinterland, thereby eliminating targets with operational importance, turning off enemy command posts, telecommunications and supply facilities
- Sabotage on bridges and other supply routes
- Remote reconnaissance
- Destruction of anti-aircraft systems and weapon systems with an areal effect
After the first special training of the soldiers in close cooperation with American and British special forces as well as with the GSG 9 of the former Federal Border Guard , the task profile for the command companies of the Bundeswehr was expanded. This now also included:
- Evacuation and removal of German citizens from abroad
- Hostage Liberation
- Crisis and conflict management
The paratrooper companies B1 (command) differed significantly from the other units in their structure. In addition to the company command group, there were no platoons in the approximately 100-man strong companies as sub-units in the traditional sense, but so-called commands of eight men each, which were distinguished by letters of the NATO alphabet . Each command was specialized in terms of type of operation, training or type of transport. The command “A” (“Alpha”) formed the freefall , “Bravo” the personal protection, “Charlie” the mountain, “Echo” the sniper - and “Foxtrot” the amphibious element, etc. Each of these commands had a command officer in front.
Units and locations
The three command companies were spread across the whole of Germany:
- The 5th Company of the 252 Paratrooper Battalion in Nagold was subordinate to the 25th Airborne Brigade.
- The Lebach- based Parachute Battalion 261 and its 5th company formed the command component of the 26th Airborne Brigade.
- The 27th Airborne Brigade was part of the 5th Company of the Paratrooper Battalion 271 in Iserlohn . After its dissolution in 1993, the 5th Company of Parachute Battalion 313 in Varel was responsible as part of Airborne Brigade 31 .
Recruitment and training
The paratrooper companies B1 (command) received the desired potential from the ranks of regular soldiers and voluntary military service , through a selection in the general and special basic training (AGA / SGA), which was an unusual variant for "special forces". However, one has to keep in mind that the command concept in the Bundeswehr was only in its initial phase at this point in time. The training was much harder and more demanding than the comparable training in companies of the paratrooper troops, which resulted in the desired selection of persevering soldiers with strong characters and thus a high degree of professionalism in these units.
- extended medical and radio training
- Courses for parachutists automatic and free fall ( Military Freefall )
- Lone Fighter Course Part I and II at the Airborne and Air Transport School in Altenstadt and the Combat Survival Course and the Combat Medical Course at the then International Remote Spying School in Weingarten , as well as equivalent courses for foreign armies, such as the SERE training of the US armed forces
- Sniper training
- Weapon training on domestic and foreign weapons
- Winter fighting and fighting in difficult terrain at the mountain and winter fighting school
- " Close Quarter Battle Course " and other shooting courses with the US Special Forces in Fort Bragg and Fort Benning , the British Special Air Service (SAS) in Hereford and the German Border Guard Group 9 (GSG 9) of the Federal Police .
as well as other courses that were not carried out for normal soldiers.
For the commando commanders at the air landing and air transport school in Altenstadt, the course “ leaders in special paratroopers ” was introduced.
The command companies also took part in numerous national and international exercises, such as the "Colibri" airborne exercises that have been held alternately every two years in France and Germany since 1962 .
Laid the first German unit 1993 5./261 from Lebach to Fort Bragg and then to Fort Chaffee in the US to the exercise and training center Joint Readiness Training Center to practice (JRTC) together with American paratroopers. In return, a short time later, airborne pioneers of the 1st BCT Special Troops Battalion of the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division moved to the Lebach barracks for 6 weeks in order to practice with parts of the parachute battalion 261 and to acquire the German parachutist badge during a joint jump service .
The armament not only included the standard armament of the Bundeswehr at the time:
- P1 or P8 gun
- Submachine gun MP2A1 (with folding metal shoulder rest )
- G3A4 rifle (with retractable shoulder rest )
- Sniper rifle G3A3ZF (later also the G22 )
- MG3 machine gun
- Grenade pistol GP 40 mm
but also additional special armament required for the jobs to be carried out:
In addition, numerous new and modified items of equipment, including the camouflage clothing that is common today, were tried out in troop trials and the soldiers had greater leeway in procuring themselves and using suitable equipment.
Missions (if known)
Parts of the command company 5./261 from Lebach secure the advance command to investigate the operational conditions for the Bundeswehr. At the beginning of June 1993, additional forces from the company were transferred there as security forces.
- June 1993 to December 1993, Beledweyne / Somalia:
Parts of the command company 5./261 from Lebach reinforce the 3./261 and together make up the 2nd security company of the 1st contingent of the German Somalia Support Association
- Spring 1994, Mogadishu / Somalia:
Until March 23 of the year, after the failure of the UNOSOM II mission or the elimination of the requirements for the operation of the German troop contingent under the protection of their own forces, the paratrooper commandos will be detached from the peace mission and temporarily transferred by an association of war and supply ships Sea from the unsafe port of Mogadishu was transported to the safe port of Mombasa in neighboring Kenya and then flown to Germany from there.
When eleven German employees of Deutsche Welle were trapped by rebels in their radio station near the Rwandan capital, which was hit by the civil war, and were no longer able to leave the country, the use of German commandos as part of an evacuation operation (EvakOp) was considered. According to the Federal Press Office , however, such considerations were discontinued when it became known on April 16 that Belgian paratroopers had already brought the Germans to safety. The command companies in Lebach and Varel were ready and alerted, in Lebach the 3rd company was also alerted. The political level, however, did not give the green light for German troops to intervene because of concerns about sending German soldiers on such a mission and the supposedly unclear legal situation. The reasons for using the Belgians are still controversial. The planning of the Army Command (HFüKdo) initially provided for a combination of several commands and then the use of command leaders as commando soldiers.
- 1st Airborne Division (ed.), Estate Hempel Bundeswehr-Sozialwerk , Fallschirmjäger - The history of the 1st Airborne Division , BARETT Verlag Solingen, 1994, ISBN 3-924753-59-8 .
- Sören Sünkler, "Elite and Special Units in Europe", Motorbuch Verlag , 2008, ISBN 978-3-613-02853-1 .
- Sören Sünkler, "Special Associations of the Federal Armed Forces", Motorbuch Verlag, 2006, ISBN 978-3-613-02592-9 .