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Reports: Germany is rebuilding its elite military unit over extremism

BERLIN’s defense minister in Germany reports that he plans to restructure the country’s special forces unit after numerous accusations of far-right extremism.

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has called a press conference on Wednesday to talk about a structural analysis of the Kommando Spezialkraefte unit, or KSK, following an analysis she ordered in May.

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

In a statement, the Defense Ministry said that the affected unit and its staff had been informed and that further details would be provided at the KrampKarrenbauer press conference.

A part of the German Bundeswehr army, the KSK was formed as a military unit in 1996 with a focus on anti-terrorism operations and rescue of hostages from hostile areas. He has served in Afghanistan and the Balkans and his operations are kept secret.

Military investigators have been searching the unit after a group of German public broadcasters reported in 2017 that on a holiday away, members displayed Hitler’s salute, listened to far-right extremist music and took part in a game involving the throwing of a head pig. In January, the military reported that 20 soldiers were under suspicion 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 expel soldiers sooner if their continued presence would seriously threaten the military order or reputation of the Bundeswehr.

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