Thursday, 27 February 2014

Craig H - Research on the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan

Craig has undertaken some serious research into the Germans in Afghanistan. Please note these are Craig's ideas and we like them but this is not to say we will not supercede them as more information becomes available.

In thinking about what unit to use I was very interested in German light infantry, particularly the paratroops, or Fallschirmjager. Armed with Google, Wikipedia and my 20-year old, first year college German I scoured the internet for information, hoping to come up with a rough ORBAT for a Fallschirmjager zug (platoon).

(The Bundeswehr makes an appearance in Despatches 1, but Craig wants the Fallschirmjager, which at the time of writing, we were not able to get any good information on-Ed)

Firstly a bit of history. German Army paratroops have a long history. During World War Two they participate in a range of military operations, including the Low Countries in 1940. They led the world’s first airborne invasion, the bloody assault on the island of Crete in May 1941. As the war turned, they fought on most fronts, including at Monte Cassino in 1944 and, if you’ve seen HBO’s Band of Brothers, at Carentan in June 1944.

The Fallschirmjager were restablished in the post-war Bundeswehr in 1956 and were assigned as reserve forces during the Cold War. From 1989, as Germany started to deploy troops overseas, Fallschirmjager were present in a range of peacekeeping ops in Somalia, the Balkans and the Congo.

In 2011, German paratroopers helped evacuate foreign nationals from Libya. And then there is the Bundeswehr deployment to Afghanistan as part of ISAF.

In early 2014 the airborne and special forces units of the Bundeswehr were combined into one division of 9,500 men, the Division Schnelle Kräfte (DSK) which very roughly translates as the Rapid Forces Division. It includes two airborne brigades and the Special Forces Command (Kommando Spezialkräfte, or KSK).

A Fallshirmjäger kompanie is around 160 men, comprising four platoons (one HQ, three combat platoons and one heavy weapons/support platoon).

A Fallschirmjäger zug consists of around 40 men, with a platoon HQ of 8-10 men, led by a captain or senior lieutenant (with medics, sniper, or anti-tank team) and three 10-man combat squads.

Each combat squad (Fallschirmjägergruppe) is led by an Oberfeldwebel (NCO) with a corporal or sergeant as assistant squad leader. The squad can operate as one group, however, more recent doctrine is for it to work in two 5-man fire teams, each with an MG4 and with the squad leader and assistant commanding the elements. This is post 2005 – previously it would more likely operate as a single 10-man unit centred on a heavier MG3.

Standard weapon is the G36 assault rifle, with the two MG4s noted earlier. One or two members may carry the AG36A as a UGL, and the squad may have a sharpshooter with a G28 designated marksman rifle. Heavier weapons such as a Panzerfaust-3, or a Military Working Dog team could be added depending on the mission.

My first go at creating a squad worked out at around 1100 points. I had every trooper as at least a Veteran, reflecting the experience associated with being a paratrooper, but this could be modified downwards to include troops of average rating.

Fire team 1
1 x Elite Oberfeldwebel (NCO) (G36/AG36A (UGL))
1 x Veteran rifleman (MG4)
1 x Veteran rifleman (G36/ammo for MG4)
1 x Veteran rifleman (G36)
1 x Veteran sharpshooter (G28 marksman rifle +P8 pistol)

Fire team 2
1 x Veteran unteroffizer (CORP) (G36)
1 x Veteran grenadier (G36/AG36A (UGL))
1 x Veteran rifleman (MG4)
1 x Veteran rifleman (G36/ammo for MG4)
1 x Veteran rifleman (G36)

Now to paint them….but that’s for another post!


  1. Nice one...I have been tempted by the Eureka Germans...I was thinking about Gebirsjager.

  2. Great research Craig. They look like quite competent squads with good firepower and with them being veterans they will have great morale - very handy in a game of Sangin.

  3. Some great research here Craig, we need to get you out for a game, how is the painting on the Germans going?

  4. Hi Craig,

    I would like to take your work you have done here and work on it with you so we can make it an article in Despatches 2 - are you up for the challenge?