Austria’s Special Operations Tactical Unit – EKO Cobra – has been active since 1978. The major role for EKO Cobra, which has become one of the top Special Forces in the world, is with Domestic Law Enforcement and Counter-Terrorism. This tactical unit operates at a national and an international level – where it is formally recognized as an antiterrorist unit.
Initially, the unit was formed under the name GEK (Gendarmerieeinsatzkommando) but in 2002 was changed by the Federal Ministry of Interior to EKO Cobra. A need for this type of tactical unit became apparent during the 1972 Munich Olympics when the Israeli athletes were attacked. EKO cobra units are set up throughout Austria at strategic points so the entire country can be accessed by at least one of these troops within 70 minutes.
EKO Cobra Training
Recruits for EKO Cobra are taken from applicants from the Austrian Federal Police. Those who apply first receive a medical evaluation, followed by several psychological assessments followed by a series of intense physical challenges. Once these are all successfully completed, the recruits will spend six months in a specialized training course mastering marksmanship, tactical training exercises, driving courses, hand-to-hand combat and a variety of other pertinent skills. Depending on the field to which they are assigned, additional training may be required in areas such as sniping, blasting techniques (explosives), parachuting and/or diving.
EKO Cobra Weapons
Austria produces the majority of weapons used by EKO Cobra including assault rifles and pistols. The units are also issued special equipment such as specifically designed gear, camouflage suits, bavaclavas (ski-type masks), tonfa batons and pepper (oc) sprays.
Overall, EKO Cobra’s success lies not only in each member’s dedication for continual improvement in their skills and performance, but also in Cobra’s highly motivated officers. It is a combination of this dedication and motivation that makes Austria’s Special Operations – EKO Cobra – a swift and effective task force.