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|Special Surveillance and Reconnaissance Instruction Company 200
Badge of Fernspählehrkompanie 200
|Role||Special Surveillance and Reconnaissance (SR)
Forward Air Control
|Size||About 220 troops|
|Part of||Special Operations Division|
|Motto||The Eye of the Army
|Engagements||Aftermath of the Balkan Wars 1995–1999 (incl. operations to search and arrest war criminals)
Congolese Civil War
|Major Christian Simmelbauer|
The Fernspählehrkompanie 200 or short FSLK200 (roughly translated: Special Surveillance and Reconnaissance Instruction Company 200) is a highly specialized unit of the German Army. Fernspäher is an aged and venerable term for elite reconnaissance troopers, relating to German fern (in this context over long distances) and Späher (scout). Thus, Fernspäher are reconnaissance soldiers who cover great distances to gather intelligence and fulfill their mission. In October 2011 the German ministry of defence announced that FSLK 200 will be deactivated.
Until the activation of the German Army's Kommando Spezialkräfte (Special Forces Command) in late 1996, the land arm of the Bundeswehr had three Fernspäher Companies (100, 200 and 300) with one being assigned to each Corps. The first unit of this kind was trained and commanded by Major Konrad Rittmeyer. Former German armies did not know the concept of long range reconnaissance. Rittmeyer studied the Finnish Army's WWII long-range patrol teams that conducted reconnaissance, sabotage, and prisoner capture missions as far as 300 km deep into Soviet territory, surviving for days on carried supplies or weeks on parachute dropped resupplies; furthermore he drew on the special skills of German Gebirgsjäger (mountain infantry), Fallschirmjäger (parachute infantry), and the special forces of Germany's NATO allies.
Rittmeyer's initial Fernspäh company, back in the day simply designated as Lehrgruppe R (Training Group R), quickly reflagged as Fernspählehrkompanie 200. His concept proved prolific enough to allow the creation of a Fernspäher school in Weingarten, South Germany. This institution would eventually reflag as the International Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol School (ILRRPS) and later move to Pfullendorf. From May 2001 it was called the International Special Training Center (ISTC). ILRRPS provided training for comparable units from Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, and the USA. Initially the British Special Air Service provided the Commanding Officer and some instructors for ILRRPS however they later withdrew from participation. When the Special Forces Command was activated in 1996, many of the ranks were filled with personnel from Fernspähkompanie 100 and Fernspähkompanie 300 which disbanded at last.
The -lehr within Fernspäh-lehr-kompanie 200 designates a very special task of this unit: It is the Lehrtruppenteil (roughly translated: training and demonstration unit) for the German special forces, and as such the company does training for other troops as well as field evaluation and demonstration of new tactics and equipment. It still has a clearly offensive role though, which attracted further interest again after the September 11, 2001 attacks and the following operations against international terrorism.
Fernspählehrkompanie 200 answers directly to the Special Operations Division (Division Spezielle Operationen) of the German Army and is also a part of the recently created Army Reconnaissance Troops (Heeresaufklärungstruppe). Prior to 2007, the Fernspähtruppe was an independent formation within the German Army. Their beret insignia displayed an eagle (as the common symbol of all airborne troops of the German Army) with a set of lightning bolts in its claws, dropping down in front of crossed lances (which are the traditional insignia of German cavalry forces).
Structure of Fernspählehrkompanie 200 
The FSLK 200 consists of four SR-platoons, an additional special applications SR-platoon (covering the technical aspects of intelligence gathering as well as analysis of gathered data), a special applications maintenance group, a special applications support group, two specialized medical squads and a specialized military intelligence platoon. The overall-strength amounts to more than 220 troops.
- Fernspählehrkompanie 200
- Kompanieführung (Company headquarters)
- 1. Fernspähzug (1st SR platoon)
- 2. Fernspähzug (2nd SR platoon)
- 3. Fernspähzug (3rd SR platoon)
- 4. Fernspähzug (4th SR platoon)
- Fernspähspezialzug (Special applications SR platoon)
- Feldnachrichtenzug (Military intelligence platoon)
- Versorgungsgruppe Fernspäh (Special applications support group)
- Instandsetzungsgruppe Fernspäh (Special applications maintenance group)
- 2x Sanitätstrupp Fernspäh (Specialized medical squad)
In October 2011 the German ministry of defence announced that FSLK 200 will be deactivated.
As with all German armed forces, FSLK200 needs the approval of the German Bundestag to participate in foreign deployments. This permission can however be obtained subsequently if the situation requires immediate action. Details about operations of the FSLK 200 are kept secret. Nonetheless it is known that Fernspäher carried out missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the Kosovo War and later during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Additionally, Fernspäher soldiers were deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2006 as a part of the European Union mission EUFOR RD Congo.
The arsenal of the Fernspäher is mainly based on stock issued weapons of the Bundeswehr, but with special additions not available to regular troops. The main weapon system is the Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle, followed by the HK MP5 SMG in several variants. Heavy weapons include the Bundeswehr's GPMG Rheinmetall MG3, the HK G8 Machine gun, and sniper rifles G22/G24 produced by Accuracy International. The basic sidearm is the HK P12-pistol, a .45 ACP Heckler & Koch USP Tactical variant.
- Johnson, Jennifer (Major) (2 July 2009). "International Special Training Center and NATO celebrate 30 years of teaching special forces". US Army. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
- "Colonel John Crosland, CBE, MC".