German special forces offer cash to recruits

In order to attract the best candidates they find, Germany´s Special Forces Command (KSK) will start spending up to €1 million a year in cash bonuses.

German special forces offer cash to recruits
Photo: DPA

The KSK hopes the cash incentives will improve their recruiting.

Since they were founded 12 years ago, the KSK has had a problem finding suitable candidates. In a recent selection process, only nine out of 350 applicants passed the tough requirements. The training is so tough that they are not comparable with regular military standards.

The cash incentives decision was welcomed at the KSK´s garrison headquarters in Baden-Württemberg. A KSK official said: “We hope this finally means that the necessary number of Special Forces Command soldiers will be reached.”

At present around 100 KSK soldiers are currently posted in Northern Afghanistan.

Candidates may not be older than 24 years old, and must declare their commitment to the obligatory six-year minimum service period during the application process. A KSK command soldier’s career is over by the age of 39 when they must leave the unit.

A one-off payment of €3,000 is promised to applicants who pass the selection process and start the two-year training course. Candidates also receive a one-off premium of €10,000 if they pass the two-year training and then commit for a further four years of service. This could be as a special commando in Afghanistan.

Should a KSK soldier serve more than six years, he can expect an extra €6,000 per year. All in all, the cash incentives will cost the military around €1 million per year. The new cash scheme’s effectiveness is to be reviewed by the year 2014 at the latest. At present, the monthly pay for KSK members is around €3,200 before taxes.

The German military opened all units to women in 2001, and the KSK has also committed to recruit female elite soldiers, but so far only one woman has applied, and she failed the requirements.

The Ministry of Defence has said that many of the commando elite soldiers are unwilling to continue once their six years of obligatory service are over. They tend to apply for jobs with the German police or customs. The other alternative is as a highly paid bodyguard to western company representatives in danger zones such as Iraq or Afghanistan.