Germany’s Special Forces – the GSG 9 – were first formed in April of 1973 and have since become one of the top special forces in the world. The need for this type of special operations surfaced during the 1972 Olympics which were hosted by Germany. During these games, 11 Israeli athletes were kidnapped (two killed in the initial assault). German police were neither trained nor prepared for such an assault or rescue mission. As a result, their attempts to rescue the remaining Israeli hostages failed. The remaining nine hostages were killed along with five of the eight kidnappers and one police officer.
Training for the GSG 9
Only Bundespolizei or other German police who’ve completed two years’ service are qualified to apply. Once accepted, the recruits undergo initial medical testing and are given a basic series of physical tests. Once the physical testing is completed, they undergo a series of psychological evaluations to test their mental fitness. In addition, they are required to pass a marksmanship test and then a final interview.
Once the basic application process is completed, each recruit accepted into the training course will undergo 16 weeks of basic training followed by specialized training for nine weeks. Once completed, they will further train with other allied countries and their counter-terrorism units. On average only one in five recruits will complete the entire training course. The identities of those who pass are kept top secret.
Germany’s Special Forces GSG 9 units are deployed for hostage situations, kidnapping, terrorism and extortion. Other missions may involve securing locations, neutralizing targets, tracking down fugitives and conducting sniper operations. They also test new methods and tactics they develop for these various missions.
It is estimated that since their inception in 1973, the GSG 9 have completed more than 1,500 missions, only firing their weapons five times – a true reflection of the complete dedication and excellent training of Germany’s Special Forces – GSG 9.