GSG 9 badge
Agency overview
Formed April 17, 1973
Employees About 1800 operators
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency Germany
Primary governing body Government of Germany
Secondary governing body Federal Police (Germany)
General nature
Specialist jurisdiction Counter terrorism, special weapons and tactics, protection of VIPs.
Operational structure
Overviewed by Police Federal Ministry of the Interior
Headquarters Sankt Augustin-Hangelar near Bonn
Elected minister responsible Thomas de Maizière
Official website

Grenzschutzgruppe 9 der Bundespolizei (Border Protection Group 9 of the Federal Police), commonly abbreviated GSG 9, is a German counter-terrorism, hostage rescue and special operations police unit.


On September 5, 1972, the Palestinian terrorist movement Black September infiltrated the Summer Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany, to kidnap 11 Israeli athletes, killing two in the Olympic Village in the initial assault on the athletes' rooms. The incident culminated when German police, neither trained nor equipped for counter-terrorism operations, and underestimating the number of terrorists involved, attempted to rescue the athletes. Police did not have a specialized tactical sniper team at that time. The army had snipers, but the German Constitution did not allow the use of the German Armed Forces on German soil during peacetimes. The police rescue failed and the operation led to the deaths of one policeman, five of the eight kidnappers and all of the remaining nine hostages (subsequently called the Munich massacre). Apart from the human tragedy, Germany's law enforcement found itself severely compromised, in part due to Germany's historic relationship to Jews and Israel.

History and name

As a consequence of the mismanagement of the Olympic tragedy, the West German government created the GSG 9 under the leadership of then Oberstleutnant Ulrich Wegener so that similar situations in the future could be responded to adequately and professionally. Many German politicians opposed its formation, fearing GSG 9 would rekindle memories of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel (SS). The decision was taken to form the unit from police forces (as opposed to from the military, as are the equivalent forces in other countries) on the ground that German federal law expressly forbids the use of the military forces against the civilian population. Composing the special force from police personnel would avoid this difficulty. The unit was officially established on April 17, 1973 as a part of Germany's federal police agency, the Bundesgrenzschutz (Federal Border Guard Service, renamed Bundespolizei or Federal Police in 2005). The name GSG 9 stood for Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (Border Guard Group 9) and was chosen simply because the BGS had eight regular border guard groups at the time. After the 2005 renaming, the abbreviation "GSG 9" was kept due to the fame of the unit and is now the official way to refer to the unit. Its formation was based on the expertise of the British SAS Counter Terrorist Units and Israeli Special Operations.


GSG 9 is deployed in cases of hostage-taking, kidnapping, terrorism and extortion. The group may also be used to secure locations, neutralize targets, track down fugitives and sometimes conduct sniper operations. The unit is very active in developing and testing methods and tactics for these missions. Finally, the group may provide advice to the different Länder, ministries and international allies. The group assists the Bundespolizei and other federal and local agencies on request. At the time of the 1977 Mogadishu mission, the Commander of the Israeli Border Police Tzvi War described GSG 9 as "The best anti-terrorist group in the world."

From 1972 to 2003 they reportedly completed over 1,500 missions,[1] discharging their weapons on only five occasions. At the SWAT World Challenge in 2005, GSG 9 won eight out of eight events, beating 17 other teams. GSG 9 defended its championship the following year,[2] and placed fifth in 2007.[3]

Germany offered to render assistance to India in the wake of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. GSG 9 helped train and upgrade the National Security Guards, the primary Indian counter-terrorism unit.[4] Further help was provided to the Mumbai Police so that they could raise a SWAT team.[5]


A GSG 9 exercise in 2005
GSG 9 operators rappel on a building of the German Bundeskriminalamt.

Its first mission, "Operation Feuerzauber" (Operation Fire Magic), immediately established the GSG 9's reputation as an elite unit. It was carried out in 1977 when Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Landshut, a Lufthansa plane on the way from Palma de Mallorca to Frankfurt, demanding that imprisoned members of the German Red Army Faction terrorist group be freed in exchange for the passengers and crew who would be held as hostages. The aircraft was then flown to several destinations throughout the Middle East. During this time, the Lufthansa captain Jürgen Schumann was murdered by the leader of the hijackers in Aden.

Following a four-day odyssey, the hijackers directed the Boeing 737 to Mogadishu, Somalia, where they waited for the arrival of the Red Army Faction members after the German government had (falsely) signalled they would be released. In the night between October 17 and October 18, Somalian ranger units created a distraction, while members of the GSG 9 stormed the plane.[6]

The operation lasted seven minutes and was successful with all of the hostages rescued. Three hijackers died, the fourth was seriously injured. Only one GSG 9 member and one flight attendant were injured. The international counter-terrorism community applauded the GSG 9 for the excellent and professional handling of the situation, as assaults on planes are considered to be one of the most difficult operations that a hostage rescue force is likely to need to do. To support the GSG 9 action, two accompanying British SAS advisers provided some newly developed flash bang grenades, but ultimately the flash bangs were never used due to the fire risk inside the aircraft cabin.

Publicly known missions

Note: The majority of this unit's missions are confidential and public information is not available. Since its inception, GSG 9 has participated in over 1,500 missions, yet reportedly fired shots only on five occasions (official count, prior to the 2003 Iraq War). These occasions were Mogadishu in 1977, Bad Kleinen in 1993, Aachen in 1999 and two more missions where firearms were used to shoot dogs of the persons being arrested.


The unit forms part of the German Bundespolizei (Federal Police, formerly Bundesgrenzschutz), and thus has normal police powers, including, for example, the power of arrest. The Federal Police of Germany (and thus the GSG 9) is under the control of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The Bundespolizei also provides aerial transportation for the GSG 9. In contrast, regular police forces are subordinate to the various States or Länder, as are their Spezialeinsatzkommando (SEK) teams, while the military is responsible for the Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) (Special Forces command) and the Kampfschwimmer.

The GSG 9 is based in Sankt Augustin-Hangelar near Bonn and is currently under the command of Olaf Lindner. Previous commanders were Ulrich Wegener, Uwe Dee, Jürgen Bischoff and Friedrich Eichele. GSG 9 consists of three main sub-groups, plus a number of support groups:

Regular operations
The first sub-group of the GSG 9 is used for regular land-based counter-terrorism actions. This may involve cases of hostage taking, defusing bombs, kidnapping, terrorism or extortion. The group may also be used to secure locations, neutralize targets, sniping and tracking fugitives.
Maritime operations
The second sub-group of the GSG 9 is used for operations at sea, for example the hijacking of ships or oil platforms.
Airborne operations
The third sub-group of the GSG 9 is used for airborne operations, including parachuting and helicopter landings.
Central services
This service group maintains the GSG 9 armoury and is involved in testing, repairing and purchasing weapons, ammunition, and explosives.
Documentation unit
This unit handles communications, including the testing, repairing and purchasing of communications and surveillance equipment.
Operations staff
Handles the administration of GSG 9.
Technical unit
This unit supports other units in gaining entry to target areas and is responsible for the procurement, testing and issuance of non-weapon equipment. The members of the technical unit are also explosive ordnance disposal experts and they are cross-trained in direct action operations. They are trained in the rendering safe and disposal of improvised explosive devices
Training unit
This unit trains existing members, selects recruits, and trains new members.

Recruitment and training

Members of the Bundespolizei and other German police services with at least two years of service can apply for the selection process of the GSG 9. The test consists of:[13]

The subsequent 22-week training period includes thirteen weeks of basic training and nine weeks of specialized training.[14][15] The identity of GSG 9 members is classified as top secret. Further training often involves co-operation with other allied counter-terrorism units, e.g. Israel's Yamam and India's National Security Guards (NSG).[16] Only one in five pass the training course.



See also

Comparable counter terrorism units


New link to replace dead link Federal Police Duties and Responsibilities (German/English)

Wikimedia Commons has media related to GSG 9.

  1. Federal Police, Duties and Organisation, page 17. Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. History of The Original SWAT WORLD Challenge "Team GSG-9, the Federal Border Police of Germany, swept the competition and won all seven events." Archived February 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. Archived February 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. "Elite German police wing to train NSG". Indian Express. 2008-12-20. Retrieved 2011-01-25.
  5. Samanta, Pranab Dhal (2009-03-29). "German counter-terror force to help set up Mumbai SWAT team". Indian Express. Retrieved 2011-01-25.
  6. Interview with Ulrich Wegener, Welt Online, 13. Oktober 2007 retrieved on 12-01-2008
  7. Archived June 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. Archived November 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg, Germany (4 May 2009). "Mission Impossible: German Elite Troop Abandons Plan to Free Pirate Hostages". SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  10. "German police target Hells Angels in large-scale raids". BBC News. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  11. "[live] Shooting in Munich shopping center". Retrieved 2016-07-22.
  12. "WDR Aktuelle Stunde on Twitter". Retrieved 2016-07-22.
  13. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-06-23. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  14. GSG 9 der Bundespolizei: Informationbrochure Die GSG 9 der Bundespolizei sucht Nachwuchs! (Stand: 28. Juni 2007). [Handed out ob June 19, 2010 by the Federal Police of Germany on an information day at the Federal Criminal Police Office]
  16. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-02. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
  17. "Sinn Uhren: Modell UX GSG 9". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  18. GSG 9 Kameradschaft e.V. "". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-12. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
  20. GSG 9 Kameradschaft e.V. "". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/2/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.