The Jagdkommando is the Special Operations Unit of the Austrian Armed Forces stationed in the town of Wiener Neustadt. The unit’s main missions include:
- SR-Special Reconnaissance
- DA-Direct Action
- MA-Military Assistance
The name “Jagdkommando” has its origins in the time of WW1, when small assault squads of the Austrian K.u.K. Army were called what translates to “manhunt command.” The history of the Austrian Special Operations Forces began after WW2 when two Austrian officers participated in the US Army’s Ranger School as part of their training in order to set up a similar course for the eventual establishment of Jagdkommando in 1961. Since then, the officers and soldiers of Jagdkommando continued to devolve by taking part in similar courses in the United States and all over Europe and by combining the lessons learned with “homegrown” tactics and knowledge.
Missions took Jagdkommando operators to the Balkans (KFOR, etc.), Afghanistan (ISAF, until 2005) and Chad / Central African Republic(EUFOR, since 2007) and most recently to Mali.
Selection and training
Selection is usually held once a year and has a duration of 6 months. The program normally begins in January with 3 weeks of pre-selection. During this time the candidate will take the physical tests required, receive additional training and a undergo a 72 hour Field Exercise, which is the core event of the selection process.
Most candidates will fail during the 72 hour exercise which includes long road marches in squad size elements, psychological test batteries, and total sleep deprivation. The pre-selection course is conducted by active operators as well as by enablers of the unit.
Normally 20-25% of all candidates will pass the pre selection course and continue with the so called Jagdkommandogrundkurs, the basic course of selection. The first few weeks are held in the remote area of Allentsteig, a giant military training area in close proximity to the Czech border. The first seven weeks of small unit tactics are overshadowed with plenty of snow, freezing weather, very small amounts of sleep and permanent pysical performance. Candidates will get used to the heavy Lowe Rucksack and spend most of their day with it on their backs while conducting patrols, ambushes and raids in the forrests around Allentsteig.
After the small unit tactics phase, which will elemintae the last few unfitting candidates, the basic course will continue with block course of two or three weeks each:
Basic Demolition Course
Amphibious Insertion/Extraction Course
Field Survival Course
Basic CQB course
Field training exercises
SERE: The final and most infamous course is the SERE training.
Over the last few years the SERE training took part in the Alps of Salzburg. The “run phase”will last up to ten days, while the candidate must check in at a given checkpoints every 24 hours. The checkpoints are set 20-30 km apart, considering the mountains in between the points and the tactical need to stay off roads and trails, the candidates will be very busy meeting their time limits and rarely find sleep. Finally after days on the run and being hunted down by infantry units, helicopters and K9 units, the candidates will be ambushed and captured at on of their checkpoints. This marks the beginning of the “captivity phase”. Being the last phase of the selection course this phase will last 72 hours.
After completing the SERE course the remaining soldiers (normally 10-15% of all applicants who started the pre selection course) are accepted into the Jagdkomamndo brotherhood and awarded the “mudd-green” beret with the Unit Crest on it. Most of the graduates will be given a slot as active operators in one of the two Task Groups of the unit, while some go back to their regular Army unit.
Jagdkommando soldiers take extreme pride in their long and unique selection course and the prestige that comes along with earning the green beret inside the armed forces.
If a soldier is chosen to become an operator after selection he will attend the Einsatzausbildung 1, a course where he will refine his operator skills. The training will last up to one year.
Normally it starts off with a five week drivers course, followed by shooting classes. This will be the first time for operators to use the advanced weapon systems Steyr AUG A2 Kdo and the FN P90. After weeks at the shooting range the next courses will be very mountain orientated, like the mountain airborne course, winter warfare and mountaineering courses as well as ski training.
After the mountain courses the individual job training will begin. Depending on the assignment the operator will attand the Weapon Sergeant Course, Medic Course, Communications Sergeant Course or Engineer Course.
The SOF CQB course that follows teaches the latest techniques in HRO, CC, and DDO. Jagdkomamdno operators train together with several NATO SOF units worldwide and so the used SOPs and tactics are very similar to other SOF units.
Differnt other courses will complete the Einsatzausbildung 1, such as the Urban SR course, advanced comatives training and Air Assault techniques.
After more than 18 months of training the operator will be assigned a team in the 1st SOTG (Special Operations Task Group) or the 2nd SOTG. The 3rd SOTG belongs to the Army Reserve Component. A typical Jagdkommando team consists of six operators: the Team Leader, Team Sergeant, a Weapons Sergeant/Sniper, Engineer Sergeant , Medic Sergeant and Communication Sergeant. Each team is assigned to one insertion speciality, such as freefall, amphibious, mountain and mobility.
The Jagdkommando took part in all major missions of the Austrian Armed forces. Operators served on the Balkans, Afghanistan and several African countries. The operations in Chad and the Central African Republic were very beneficial for the unit as new equipment was issued and important experience on the long range SR sector was gained.
A small number of operators was part of “Operation Egypt” in 2012 during the uprising in Egypt. The mission was to assist Austrian and European citizens to get out of Egypt safely.
The primary weapon system of an AUTSOF operator is the Steyr AUG A2 Kdo, which was introduced before the first Chad Deployment in 2007. The 5.56mm NATO rifle feeds from 30 or 42 round magazines and shows some major improvements to the Steyr AUG A1/A2 rifles, like the NATO muzzelbreak for suppressor use and the bolt release button for quicker magazine changes.
Glock pistols make up the sidearm arsenal of the Jagdkommando. Model 17 in 9mm is issued with a Glock Tactical Light, while Model 21 in 45. ACP comes with a suppressor.
Every operator also receives a FN P90 machine pistol in 5.7x28mm. The weapon comes with 50 round magazines, an EOTech or Aimpoint Optic and a suppressor.
Modern Body armor vests and camoflage uniforms are available, but a lot of operators stick to personally bought gear when it comes to plate carriers, boots and uniforms.
The heavy weapons of the unit include the MG 74 in 7.62mm NATO, the Carl Gustav 8.4cm, and the Barret .50cal sniper rifle.