EKO Cobra

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EKO Cobra
EKO Cobra logo.jpg
Patch of EKO Cobra
Active1978–present
CountryAustria
BranchFederal Ministry of the Interior
TypePolice tactical unit
RoleCounter-terrorism
Law enforcement
Size450 operatives
Garrison/HQWiener Neustadt, Austria

EKO Cobra (Einsatzkommando Cobra) is the police tactical unit of the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior. EKO Cobra is not part of the Austrian Federal Police but is directly under the control of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

History[edit]

Two members of EKO Cobra in operational loadout (historic).

The roots of the EKO Cobra lie in the Gendarmerieeinsatzkommando Bad Vöslau that was originally formed by the regional police authority of Lower Austria to protect east European Jews during their migration via Austria to Israel against terrorist threats. As the tactical skills of this unit were welcome in other fields, too, the mission of the Gendarmerieeinsatzkommando became broader in the course of years, and it climbed the hierarchy, from being a regional unit to becoming assigned directly to the Generaldirektion für öffentliche Sicherheit, the leading authority for public security within the Ministry of the Interior.[1]

The name Cobra was coined by the press. It was a reference to the US TV series Mission: Impossible that was aired in German under the title Kobra, übernehmen Sie. It first appeared in June 1973 in the Kronen Zeitung.[1]

The determining step of founding today's Cobra as a unit of the Ministry of the Interior rather than a regional police unit was done in 1978, primarily as a response to the attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Its main office is in Wiener Neustadt, with sub-offices in Graz, Linz, Salzburg and Innsbruck.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior changed the unit's name from GEK to EKO Cobra in 2002.

The 450 men of EKO Cobra have trained with some[which?] of the most elite special forces units.

Known operations[edit]

EKO Cobra was involved in a hostage rescue in the Graz-Karlau Prison in 1996 and numerous other operations. Although it has never participated in the same type of hostage rescue operations that the HRT, GIGN, GIS, NSG, ERU, GSG 9 and the SAS have had, the EKO Cobra is the only Counter-Terrorism unit to end a hijacking while the aircraft was still in the air.[2] On 17 October 1996, four Cobra officers were on board an Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-154 escorting deported prisoners to Lagos when a Nigerian man threatened the cockpit crew with a knife and demanded a diversion to Germany or South Africa. The team overpowered the man and handed him over to the authorities after landing.[3]

135 EKO Cobra operatives together with units of the Austrian Armed Forces were involved in the search for Alois Huber in the Annaberg shooting, who killed three police officers and one Red Cross EMT on 17 September 2013, in Lower Austria.[4]

In 2016 42 officers supported the German Police in the Munich shooting.[5][6][7]

In 2017, 20 EKO Cobra operatives were directly involved to end the severe riots in the Schanzenviertel area during the G20 Hamburg summit, three operatives have been wounded.[8][9][10]

Recruitment and training[edit]

Officers of the EKO Cobra rope down a building

Any member of the Austrian Federal Police may apply for the EKO Cobra. The tests consist of medical examinations, psychological tests and vigorous physical tests. Upon successful completion of the tests the recruits attend 6 months of specialized training which includes marksmanship, tactical training, sports, driver courses, abseiling/rappelling, hand-to-hand combat, language classes, etc. Besides the courses taught in the basic training, further specialization is possible in fields, such as parachuting, diving, explosives or sniping.[11]

Since its establishment in 1978, 1,140 officers have served in EKO Cobra.[12]

Organization[edit]

Locations of the EKO Cobra in Austria.

The unit's headquarters is located in Wiener Neustadt (Lower Austria). It performs all administrative activities and the training for the EKO Cobra officers. Further departments exist in Vienna, Graz, Linz and Innsbruck with small field offices in Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Feldkirch.

Each department contains four teams and each field office contains two. This structure allows the units to be deployed anywhere in Austria in less than 70 minutes.[13]

Equipment[edit]

Weapons[edit]

An officer of the Austrian counter-terrorism unit EKO Cobra handling a Steyr AUG rifle during an airborne operation (the aircraft is a Bell 206B Jet Ranger).

EKO Cobra is armed mainly with Austrian weaponry, but sometimes foreign-produced arms are used too.

Name Origin Type Calibre Quantity Photo Notes
Assault Rifle & Battle Rifle
Steyr AUG Austria Assault Rifle 5.56×45mm AUG A1 407mm 03.jpg 3 variants:

Steyr AUG A1, Steyr AUG A2, Steyr AUG A3

Pistol
Glock 17 Austria Semi-automatic pistol 9×19mm Glock 17 MOD 45154998 (Transparent).png
Glock 18 Austria Machine pistol 9×19mm Glock 18C.jpg with select-fire capability (safe, semi-automatic, fully automatic)
Glock 19 Austria Semi-automatic pistol 9×19mm Glock 19 (transparent background).jpg
Manurhin MR 73 France Revolver Manurhin-MR-73.jpg
Submachine Gun
Steyr TMP Austria Submachine Gun 9×19mm Steyr TMP 9mmPara 001.jpg
H&K MP5A3 Germany Submachine Gun 9×19mm MP5.jpg
H&K MP7 Germany Submachine Gun 4.6×30mm H&K MP7.jpg
B&T APC9 Switzerland Submachine Gun 9×19mm
Sniper rifle
Steyr SSG 69 Austria Sniper rifle 7.62×51mm Steyr SSG 69 PII.jpg including sound-suppressed variant
PGM Hécate II France Anti-materiel rifle .50 BMG PGM Hecate.jpg
Shotgun
Remington 870 United States Pump-action shotgun 12 gauge M870mcs.jpg
Franchi SPAS-12 Italy Combat shotgun 12 gauge SPAS-12 stock folded.jpg
H&K HK512 Germany Semi-automatic shotgun 12 gauge
Grenade launcher
H&K HK69A1 Germany Grenade launcher 40mm HK69A1.jpg

Special equipment[edit]

EKO Cobra use a variety of equipment designed for a variety of situations.

Uniforms[edit]

EKO Cobra officers wear the uniform of the Austrian Federal Police with certain modifications:

  • Maroon beret to indicate their elite status
  • The unit's insignia is worn instead of the police insignia
  • The rank insignia's background is black instead of red as from the regular Federal Police uniforms

During tactical operations the officers wear green or black coveralls along with their tactical gear.

WEGA[edit]

Austria's capital city, Vienna, has its own police tactical unit, WEGA (Wiener Einsatzgruppe Alarmabteilung). It is trained to similar standards and is capable of handling serious situations such as hostage taking.

Annual Warrior Competition[edit]

EKO Cobra competed in the 2011 Annual Warrior Competition winning top honors.[14] EKO Cobra defeated a United States Marine Corps 13th MEU and a joint team from U.S. Army Special Forces 5th Group and Jordan SFG 101 among many others.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Riegler, Thomas (2013). "Vom "Gendarmeriekommando Bad Vöslau" zur "Cobra": Der Aufbau der Österreichischen Antiterrorkräfte" [From the "Gendarmeriekommando Bad Vöslau" to the "Cobra": The Build-Up of Austria’s Counterterrorism Forces]. Journal For Intelligence, Propaganda And Security Studies (in German). 7 (1): 116–138. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  2. ^ Nilsson, Jeff. "Top 10 Most Dangerous Special-Forces Around the World". The Richest. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  3. ^ https://www.bmi.gv.at/207/Publikationen/files/Air_Marshals.pdf
  4. ^ Loinig, Matthias. "Charred body of Austrian gunman found in bunker of house". Austrian Times. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Tiroler Cobra-Beamte in München im Einsatz" [Tyrolean Cobra officers in action in Munich]. ORF (in German). 23 July 2016. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  6. ^ "42 Cobra-Beamte in München im Einsatz" [42 Cobra officers in action in Munich]. Die Presse (in German). 23 July 2016. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  7. ^ Wenda, Gregor (2017). "Gemeinsame Terrorbekämpfung" [Joint Counter-Terrorism] (PDF). Sondereinheiten (in German). Federal Ministry of the Interior: 11–16. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  8. ^ Unger, Christian; Emmrich, Julia (9 July 2017). "Österreichische "Cobra" im Einsatz". Berliner Morgenpost (in German). Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Drei Österreicher verletzt: Deutsche Polizei fürchtet neue Eskalation". Die Presse (in German). Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  10. ^ Hofer, Stefan (11 July 2017). "G-20: Cobra und Wega "an vorderster Front"". Kurier (in German). Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  11. ^ Spiegel TV Spezial: Einsatzkommando Cobra - Ausbildung einer Elite-Einheit. Fernsehreportage, 2006.
  12. ^ "30 Jahre "Cobra"" (PDF). Federal Ministry of the Interior (in German). Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  13. ^ "Österreichische Sondereinheit: Cobra, übernehmen Sie!". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). 26 July 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  14. ^ a b "3rd Annual Warrior Competition Event, 2011". Warrior Competition. Retrieved 28 December 2017.

External links[edit]