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Austrian Response to Terrorism: Gendarmerie's Operations Unit (Cobra)

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 47 Issue: 7 Dated: July 1999 Pages: 110-113
Eitan Meyr
Date Published
July 1999
3 pages
This article describes Austria's Gendarmerie's Operations Unit.
Also known as the Cobra, for the snake symbol on its insignia, the Gendarmerie's Operations Unit (GEK) has led the tactical fight against terrorism and serious crime in Austria for more than 20 years and is among the best trained and equipped of its kind in the world. The GEK's tasks include: (1) intervention in extreme terrorist attacks involving hijackings and hostage-takings; (2) assisting other security agencies in dealing with violent criminal organizations; (3) protecting the President, Prime Minister and visiting foreign heads of state; and (4) protecting Austrian diplomatic missions abroad during periods of crisis or extreme violence. The article describes the structure of the GEK, training, weaponry and special equipment, and contacts with other units, including cross-training with many European counter-terrorist and police special operations units.