Grenzschutzgruppe 9

From Academic Kids

Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (GSG 9 - "Border protection group 9") is a German counter-terrorism unit, and is considered to be among the best of such units in the world. Many other counterterrorist units were modelled after the GSG-9.



The unit forms part of the Bundesgrenzschutz (Federal Border Guard), and has normal police powers, including for example the power of arrest. The Border Guard (and thus the GSG-9), is under the control of the federal ministry of the interior. The Bundesgrenzschutz also provides aerial transportation for the GSG-9. In contrast, regular police are responsible to the various States or Lnder, as are Sondereinsatzkommandos (SEK) (German equivalent of SWAT), while the military is responsible for the KSK (special forces).

The GSG-9 is based in Sankt Augustin-Hangelar near Bonn and consists of three main sub-groups, plus a number of support groups as shown below.

GSG-9/1 (regular counter-terrorism )

The first sub group of the GSG-9 is used for regular land based counter-terrorism actions. This may involve cases of hostage taking, kidnapping, terrorism, and extortion. The group may also be used to secure locations, neutralize targets, sniping and fugitive hunting. The group has approximately 100 members.

GSG-9/2 (maritime counter-terrorism)

The second sub group of the GSG-9 is used for counter-terrorism at sea, for example the hijacking of ships or oil platforms. The group has approximately 100 members.

GSG-9/3 (airborne counter-terrorism )

The third sub group of the GSG-9 is used for counter-terrorism involving airborne operations, including parachuting and helicopter landings. The group has approximately 50 members.

Technical Unit

This unit supports other units in obtaining entry to target areas.

Central Services

This service group maintains the armoury of the GSG-9, and is involved in testing, repairing and purchasing weapons, ammunition, and explosives.

Documentation Unit

This unit handles the communications of the GSG-9, including the testing, repairing and purchasing of communications and surveillance equipment.

Operations Staff

This is the administration of the GSG-9.

Training Unit

This unit trains existing members, and selects, recruits and trains the new members.


The GSG-9 is used to act against cases of hostage taking, kidnapping, terrorism, and extortion. The group may also be used to secure locations, neutralize targets, sniping and fugitive hunting. Furthermore, the group is very active in developing and testing methods and tactics for these tasks. Finally, the group may provide consultation to the different Lnder, Ministries and international allies. The group assists the Bundesgrenzschutz and other federal and local agencies by request.


Members of the Bundesgrenzschutz with 2 years of service can join the GSG-9. The 22-week training period includes 13 weeks of basic training and 9 weeks of advanced training. Besides medical tests there are many physical and psychological requirements, for example running 5000 meters within 23 minutes and jump a distance of at least 2.4 meters (from a standstill). . The identity of the GSG-9 members is classified as top secret. Further training often involves cooperation with other allied counter-terrorism units.


The unit was established in 1972 under the leadership of (then Colonel) Ulrich K. Wegener, after the police failed miserably in dealing with the "Munich massacre" - a terrorist action carried out by the Black September movement during the 1972 Summer Olympic Games. The GSG-9 was officially established on April 17, 1973. Its formation was based on expertise of the British SAS and the Israeli Sayeret Matkal; Wegner emphasizes the importance of the Israelis.

The best-known mission of the GSG-9 was the freeing of the hostages of the RAF ("Red Army Faction") terrorist group in the Lufthansa flight 707 Landshut in Mogadishu, Somalia in the night of the 17th & 18th October 1977. For details of the hijacking see RAF or German Autumn.

Publicly known missions

However, most of the missions are confidential and not made public. Since the founding of the GSG-9 the group has participated on over 1300 missions, yet fired shots only on 4 occasions (official count, prior to the war in Iraq 2003). These occasions were 1977 in Mogadishu and 1993 in Bad Kleinen, furthermore two more missions where firearms were used to defend themselves against dogs of the persons to be arrested.


de:Grenzschutzgruppe 9 ja:国境警備隊第9グループ no:GSG-9 fi:GSG-9


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