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Wachbataillon

Wachbataillon

The Wachbataillon (full name: "Wachbataillon beim Bundesministerium der Verteidigung (WachBtl BMVg)" (Guard battalion at the Ministry of Defence)) is the German Bundeswehr's elite drill unit. The Wachbataillon is the largest battalion of the German forces with about 1,800 soldiers, split in two garrisons in Berlin and Siegburg. It consists of nine companies (see list below) and belongs to the "Streitkräftebasis" (Joint Service Support Command) of the Bundeswehr. The soldiers of the Wachbataillon often refer to themselves as "Protter" or "Protokollsoldaten", meaning protocol soldiers.

Mission

The primary mission of the Wachbataillon is to perform the military honours for the German president, the German Chancellor, the Federal Minister of Defence and the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr during state visits or on comparable occasions.

In addition the Wachbataillon executes the Großer Zapfenstreich on special occasions (for example on the 50th anniversary of the Bundeswehr in front of the Reichstag in Berlin on the night of October 26, 2005) or takes part in (inter)national events like the ceremonial oath of the Bundeswehr ceremony, parades and shows with its drill team which is the best trained special unit of the battalion.

A secondary mission is to perform (ceremonial) guard duty at the Ministry of Defence and other high profile public places and protect and guard the members of the German government and the Ministry of Defence.

An additional secondary mission is securing and defending the alternate seat of the federal German government in conjunction with forces of the Federal Border Guard. As a direct attack on Germany is no longer an urgent threat since the end of the Cold War, that mission has become somewhat obsolescent.

Recruitment

The Wachbataillon only admits personnel that have a body height ranging from up to , normal eyesight and body weight and are generally in good health. Wachbataillon personnel are not allowed to grow beards and moustaches. About 80% of Wachbataillon's personnel are conscripts. The soldiers of the Wachbataillon are from all three German forces (i.e. Army, Navy and Air Force) and have the uniforms from all forces at their disposal to be able to perform any drill mission on every occasion.

Equipment

For reasons of tradition the Wachbataillon is the only unit of the Bundeswehr still using the Karabiner 98k because the traditional Prussian rifle drills can be executed better with that historical weapon. In 1995 remaining Swastika and other Nazi-era markings were removed from these rifles, after criticism regarding the presence of such symbols on Wachbataillon kit by the SPD parliamentary party.

During normal day duty the battalion uses the G36 rifle and other kit like the other units of the Bundeswehr. The 1st company is the last unit in the Bundeswehr using 6 Feldhaubitze 105 mm guns in the role of salute guns.

The silent drill team of The Citadel, The Summerall Guards, models its own routine after Wachbataillon's.

List of Wachbataillon's companies

Company Duty of company stationed in
1./WachBtl BMVg Staff company Berlin
2./WachBtl BMVg Drill- and guard company Berlin
3./WachBtl BMVg Drill- and guard company Siegburg
4./WachBtl BMVg Drill- and guard company Berlin
5./WachBtl BMVg Drill- and guard company Berlin
6./WachBtl BMVg Drill- and guard company Siegburg
7./WachBtl BMVg Drill- and guard company Berlin
8./WachBtl BMVg Drill- and guard company Berlin
9./WachBtl BMVg Guard company Berlin

References

External links

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