The Jagdkommando is the Austrian Armed Forces’ Special Operations group. The duties of this elite unit match those of its foreign counterparts, such as the United States Army Special Forces, being amongst others Counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency. Jagdkommando soldiers are highly trained professionals whose thorough and rigorous training enables them to take over when tasks or situations outgrow the capabilities and specialisation of conventional units.
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 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.
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 one 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 attend 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. Jagdkommando operators train together with several NATO SOF units worldwide and so the used SOPs and tactics are very similar to other SOF units.
Different other courses will complete the Einsatzausbildung 1, such as the Urban SR course, advanced combatives 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.
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 physical 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 forests around Allentsteig.
The conduct operations such as: Gathering of higher-level military intelligence.
High-profile operations such as rescue of hostages or arresting of war criminals. Fighting subversive forces such as terrorists and evacuation from dangerous areas of conflict.