Reports: Germany renews elite army unit on extremism

Reports: Germany renews elite army unit on extremism

BERLIN (AP) – The German Defense Minister is reportedly planning to restructure the country’s special unit after countless allegations of right-wing extremism.

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer convened a press conference on Wednesday to discuss a “structural analysis” of the Kommando Spezialkraefte, or KSK unit, following an analysis she ordered in May.

Her office would not immediately provide further details, but Die Welt newspaper reported on Tuesday that it plans to announce structural reforms to the unit, including the disbandment of one of the four combat companies that have been the center of allegations of extremism. Die Welt and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that about 70 soldiers would be affected.

In a tweet, the Department of Defense said the “affected unit and its personnel” had been notified and further details would be released at the Kramp – Karrenbauer press conference.

As part of the German Bundeswehr army, the KSK was formed in 1996 as an army unit with an emphasis on anti-terrorism operations and hostage-taking from hostile territories. It has served in Afghanistan and the Balkans and its operations are being kept secret.

Military investigators have investigated the unit since a group of public German broadcasters reported in 2017 that during a farewell party, members saluted the Hitler salute, listened to far-right music, and participated in a pig-thrown game. In January, the military reported that 20 soldiers are suspected of right-wing extremists.

In May, the head of the unit, Brig. General Markus Kreitmayr told soldiers he would not tolerate extremism in the ranks.

In a related move, Kramp-Karrenbauer has proposed legislation that would allow the military to deport soldiers more if their continued presence “seriously threatens the military order or the reputation of the Bundeswehr.”

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