Special Operations Division (Bundeswehr)
|Rapid Forces Division
Division Schnelle Kräfte
Division Schnelle Kräfte Shoulder Insignia
|Part of||German Army|
|Motto||Ready for action, at any time, worldwide!
Einsatzbereit, jederzeit, weltweit!
|Anniversaries||April 1, 2001|
|Major General Jörg Vollmer|
The Division Schnelle Kräfte (Rapid Forces Division) formerly Division Spezielle Operationen (Special Operations Division) is an airborne division of the German Army. Its staff is based at Stadtallendorf. It was created as 1st Airborne Division (1. Luftlandedivision) in 1956 and reflagged twice in 1994 and 2001 as Airmobile Forces Command/4th Division (Kommando Luftbewegliche Kräfte/4. Division), Special Operations Division and eventually Rapid Forces Division. The division leads three combat brigades and divisionary troops, all of which are fully air-mobile. In June 2014, the Dutch 11 Airmobile Brigade was fully integrated into this unit as part of the binational military cooperation between Germany and the Netherlands.
Troops of this division or its respective predecessors have taken part in all overseas deployments of the German Army and were largely involved in their preparation. It is the most combat-proven unit of the German military.
Created in 1956, 1st Airborne Division's main tasks were to act as the backbone of counterattacks behind the enemy lines of the Warsaw Pact and to respond to hostile breaks through allied front lines. The very first commanders of this unit were illustrious paratrooper generals such as Bern von Baer and Hans Kroh, both recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. The 1st Airborne Division existed throughout the Cold War and was disbanded in 1994. The capability for air-transportable forces was eventually replaced by Airmobile Forces Command/4th Division, a division-sized formation the duties of which shifted to more complex scenarios of current days.
This happened mainly in view of two incidents in 1994 and 1997 where German citizens had to be rescued from Rwanda and Albania, once even by foreign troops as the German military lacked of adequate forces to carry out evacuation operations on their own. One of the three existing brigades (Airborne Brigade 25 "Black Forest") was drawn on to provide the headquarters for the German Army's new special forces unit, the Kommando Spezialkräfte.
The first overseas deployment of this division took place in 1961 when its troops rendered humanitarian assistance to Morocco after a devastating earthquake. From there on 1st Airborne Division or its successors deployed troops to Somalia, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Congo. The paratroopers saw extensive action in Afghanistan. With four of the nation's highest awards for gallantry—among others—having been awarded to its members, the division's Paratrooper Battalion 263 is the most decorated unit of the German Army.
Following the restructuring of the German armed forces, the Special Operations Division was transferred into the new Rapid Forces Division (German: Division Schnelle Kräfte). Since June 2014 it also includes the 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade [11 Airmobile Brigade] of the Dutch Army as part of a joint rapid task force. The Dutch forces will remain stationed in the Netherlands but will cooperate in training and exercises of their German counterparts.
As of June 2014, the division is structured as follows:
- Rapid Forces Division
- Staff and Signals Company
- Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Company 200
- Kommando Spezialkräfte (Calw)
- Headquarters and Headquarters Company
- 1st Commando Company
- 2nd Commando Company
- 3rd Commando Company
- 4th Commando Company
- Special Commando Company
- Signal Company
- Support Company
- Special Medical Company
- Special Training Company
- Centre for Enhancements and Trials
- Airborne Brigade 26 "Saarlandbrigade"
- Airborne Brigade 31 "Oldenburg"
- Headquarters and Headquarters Company
- Support Battalion (Airborne) 272
- Paratrooper Battalion 313
- Paratrooper Battalion 373
- Reconnaissance Company (Airborne) 310
- Engineer Company (Airborne) 270
- 11 Airmobile Brigade (Netherlands)
- "Division Schnelle Kräfte" (in German). German Army. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- "11 Luchtmobiele Brigade" (in Dutch). Dutch Army. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- "Starkes Zeichen für gemeinsame Verantwortung in Europa" [A strong Sign for joint Responsibility in Europe] (in German). Federal Ministry of Defence. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- "Gliederung" [Structure] (in German). German Army. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- "Struktur des KSK" [Structure of the KSK] (in German). German Army. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- "Gliederung" [Structure] (in German). German Army. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- "Gliederung" [Structure] (in German). German Army. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.