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Posts Tagged ‘Kenya armed forces’

Recruitment of veterans for foreign service?

Posted by Popular Ombudsman on April 6, 2010

Apart from an abortive coup attempt by the air force in 1982, the armed forces have been notable by their reluctance to intervene in Kenyan political life and the country has never been ruled by the military. The military command was seen to have acted with dignity and professionalism in playing a politically neutral role during the December 2002 elections and transition of power after 39 years of KANU rule. Nevertheless, the security forces were heavily politicised and ethnicised under KANU and in his first months in office in 2003, President Kibaki reshuffled a number of positions in the military and security forces command in order to reduce KANU’s political influence in the institution. By regional standards, the Kenyan military is relatively well trained, equipped and financed.There have been allegations that an elite, UK-trained army unit was involved in post-election violence in Kenya and committed serious rights abuses. In September 2008 retired army officers cited allegations of corruption in recruitment, claims of tribalism in promotion of top officers and questionable procurement deals as some of the issues eroding the military’s integrity.The small navy is considered the only operational African naval force north of Durban. An emergency security training programme was launched by the US Government, aimed at establishing a coast guard in Kenya during 1999 but so far no such force has been created. The Kenyan Air Force is the largest and arguably the most professional air force in East Africa although almost all of the current inventory was acquired

Thousands of former and serving members of the Kenyan armed forces are being recruited with the tacit approval of their superiors, both military and civilian, to join the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). A former Kenyan army infantry corporal said that at least three commercial security companies “are actively recruiting trained soldiers inside Kenyan army bases with the full knowledge and approval of high-ranking commanding officers, who receive a kickback for every trained recruit”.The recruiting is mostly done by security companies staffed by former Kenyan and US security service personnel. Overtly but ‘unofficially’ present in most of the army camps, their recruiting efforts are, ostensibly, for staff to work in general security activities for the public and private sector, including guarding diplomatic missions in Kenya; operations overseen from the companies’ Nairobi offices are also carried out in Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. However, recruits are being told that the combat experience they will gain in these private contracts could apply to active service with the SPLA on eventual operational missions in South Sudan.The security companies are pulling the best soldiers from the active ranks of Kenya’s armed forces, said one senior serving army officer, especially tank, armoured personnel carrier and anti-aircraft crews. Other personnel being actively recruited are specialist infantry and training non-commissioned and senior officers. This is harming the overall composition and capability of the Kenyan army.


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