The 450 men (1 woman) of EKO Cobra are believed to be among the best trained Counter-Terrorist commandos, and other Special Forces have trained alongside them. They are especially respected for their climbing skills.
In 1975, EKO Cobra was involved in trying to end the OPEC siege led by Carlos (the Jackal). Although it has never partaken in the kind of hostage rescues that GIGN, GIS, GSG 9 and the SAS have, the EKO Cobra is so far the only Counter-Terrorism unit that ended a hijacking while the plane was still in the air: On October 17, 1996, 4 Cobra officers were on board an Aeroflot Tupolev 154 escorting deported prisoners to Lagos when a Nigerian threatened the cockpit crew with a knife and demanded a diversion to Germany or South Africa. The team overcame the man and handed him to the authorities after landing. The officers received a decoration by Russian President Putin.
In 2002 the Federal Ministry of Interior changed the name from GEK (Gendarmerieeinsatzkommando) to EKO Cobra (Einsatzkommando Cobra). Cobra was the internal code name for this Special Operations unit, influenced by the TV-Show Mission: Impossible (Cobra, übernehmen Sie!) and now it became part of the official name, which is not part of the Police. It is directly subordinate to the Federal Ministry of Interior.
Depending on the situation, they also use the 9mm Steyr TMP machine pistol, the Franchi SPAS 12, the Heckler & Koch M 512, the Remington 870, the Heckler & Koch MP5 A3, the Heckler & Koch MP7, the Glock 18 or the Heckler & Koch MZP-1 40 mm.