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The Militärischer Abschirmdienst (Military Counterintelligence Agency, MAD) or more officially Amt für den Militärischen Abschirmdienst (in the past Amt für die Sicherheit der Bundeswehr), is one of the three federal intelligence agencies in Germany, responsible for military counterintelligence. Its headquarters is in Cologne, with 14 groups located in cities throughout Germany. Those MAD groups are collectively known to be the Militärischer Abschirmdienst. The agency has about 1,300 military and civilian employees; in 1995 it had an annual budget of 74 million euros.

Being one of the three federal intelligence agencies in Germany, the others being the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), which is the foreign intelligence agency, and the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) (Federal office for the protection of the constitution) which is the domestic, civilian intelligence agency.



The MAD is part of the Bundeswehr, the German federal armed forces. As a domestic intelligence service, it has similar functions, within the military, and works closely together with the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz. The main duties of the MAD are counterintelligence and detection of "anticonstitutional activities" within the Bundeswehr. Other duties include the protection of Bundeswehr properties from sabotage and foreign espionage. Members of the MAD are also involved in planning and construction of buildings with high security requirements. The MAD has no prosecution power. The lead agency for the German military intelligence operations as well as strategic defense-related intelligence is the ministry of defense in Berlin.

The legal basis for the MAD is the MAD Law of 1990-12-20[1], as amended by Article 8 of the law of 2005-04-22[2]


As well as a department for administrative affairs, there are the following specialist departments:

  • Department I: Central services
  • Department II: Counter-extremism
  • Department III: Counterespionage
  • Department IV: Protection of secrets (personnel and material)
  • Department V: Technology

The 14 regional offices are in:


The MAD developed out of a liaison office between the Allies and the German government and was founded in its present form in 1956, after the Bundeswehr was created. Until 1984, its headquarters was called "Amt für Sicherheit der Bundeswehr" (ASBw, Federal armed forces office of security). As of September 1984, on the basis of the Höcherl report, the service was restructured and more civilian positions were created.

After the former East German army, the National People's Army (NVA) was incorporated into the Bundeswehr 1990-10-03, the MAD had 7 groups and 28 regional offices. This was reduced to 14 offices in 1994 when there was a reduction of armed forces.


The MAD has been involved in a number of scandals, one of them was the secret surveillance of the home of the secretary of then foreign minister Georg Leber. This was done without Mr. Lebers knowledge. His secretary was suspected of espionage for the East German "Ministerium für Staatssicherheit" (MfS) (Ministry of States Security). The suspicions turned out to be false. Leber was informed of the illegal surveillance at the beginning of 1978 but did not inform (Bundestag/Parliament) until the magazine Quick published an article 1978-01-26. Georg Leber retired his position on Feb 16 1978 therefore taking sole responsibility for the surveillance scandal. He resigned against the wishes of then chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

Another scandal was the Kießling Affair in 1983, when the MAD investigated Günter Kießling, a Bundeswehr general working with NATO. The allegations of homosexuality originating from questionable sources, the general was deemed to be a security risk and given early retirement by the then defence minister, Manfred Wörner. The general was later rehabilitated. The affair had significant consequences for the service: the commander was removed, and a commission was set up under the former minister of the interior Hermann Höcherl (CSU). The Höcherl Commission investigated the way in which the MAD operated and made recommendations for improvement. These recommendations were implemented speedily.


  1. ^ Federal Official Gazette (BGBl) I pp 2954, 2977
  2. ^ Federal Official Gazette (BGBl) I p 1106.
This article incorporates information from the revision as of 2006-10-11 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.

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