Rapid Forces Division
|Rapid Forces Division
Division Schnelle Kräfte
Division Schnelle Kräfte Shoulder Insignia
|Type||Air assault, Special Operations|
|Part of||German Army|
|Motto||Ready for action, at any time, worldwide!
Einsatzbereit, jederzeit, weltweit!
|Anniversaries||April 1, 2001|
|Brigadier General Eberhard Zorn|
The Division Schnelle Kräfte (Rapid Forces Division) formerly Division Spezielle Operationen (Special Operations Division) is an airborne division of the German Army. Its headquarters 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 special forces 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 because 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 January 2015, the division is planned to be structured as follows. The division will be reorganised under this structure during the first six months of 2015.
- Rapid Forces Division
- Staff and Signals Company in Stadtallendorf
- Kommando Spezialkräfte in Calw
- 1st Airborne Brigade in Lebach (de:Luftlande Brigade 1)
- 11th (Netherlands) Airmobile Brigade
- 10th Transport Helicopter Regiment in Faßberg
- 30th Transport Helicopter Regiment in Niederstetten
- 36th Attack Helicopter Regiment in Fritzlar
- "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.