Kenya

Gen Kibochi to take over KDF mantle on Monday

Gen Kibochi to take over KDF mantle on Monday
  • After crushing the 1982 coup, General Mohamed was appointed the new Kenya Air Force commander, then renamed the 82 Air Force.
  • General Tonje also introduced term limits for military officers ending the era of military chiefs who overstayed in office.

General Robert Kibochi will be sworn-in as the Chief of Defence Forces Monday.

Vice-Chief of Defence Forces Lt-Gen Levi Mghalu and Kenya Navy Commander Maj-Gen Jimson Mutai will also be sworn into office.

Others are deputy service commanders Major-General Albert Kendagor (Kenya Army), Brigadier Lawrence Gituma (Kenya Navy) and Brigadier John Omenda (Kenya Air Force).

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and outgoing military boss Samson Mwathethe will witness the swearing-in.

After being sworn in, Gen Kibochi, a military officer from the Kenya Army, will become the 10th man to head the defence forces after Major-General Benard Penfold (1966 to 1969), Major-General Joseph Ndolo (1969 to 1971) and Generals Jackson Mulinge (1971 to 1986), Mahamoud Mohamed (1986 to 1996), Daudi Tonje (1996 to 2000), Joseph Kibwana (2000 to 2005), Jeremiah Kianga (2005 to 2011), Julius Karangi (2011 to 2015) and his predecessor Gen Mwathethe.

British Major-General Robert Penfold was the first Chief of Staff for the Kenya Defence Forces after he was appointed to the position by President Jomo Kenyatta in 1966.

STEADY CLIMB

Major-General Penfold is credited for spearheading the Africanisation of the Kenyan military.

“While at independence, only 50 per cent of the KR’s officers were Kenyan, the last seconded British officer in the KR left Kenya by 1969,” journalist Charles Hornsby writes in the book Kenya: A History.

Penfold’s successor, Major-General Joseph Ndolo, who was the first African to serve as the KDF boss, lasted for only two years as Chief of Staff. Years later, his life was cut short by a mysterious road accident.

General Jackson Mulinge, Ndolo’s successor, who served as the military chief for 15 years, was the first KDF boss to hold the post of Chief of the General Staff (today called Chief of Defence Forces) in 1978 and was the first military officer to become a four-star general, a fete he achieved in 1980.

General Mulinge’s successor, General Mohamed, was the only serviceman to rise through the ranks to become a military officer.

Not well-educated, General Mohamed started his military career as an infantryman private, the army’s lowest rank, then rose through the ranks to head the military. No any other man has achieved such a fete.

He is the lowly educated among all the KDF Generals, but one whose contribution to the nation and the Commander in Chief is enormous.

TERM LIMITS

After crushing the 1982 coup, General Mohamed was appointed the new Kenya Air Force commander, then renamed the 82 Air Force.

General Mohamed was succeeded by Daudi Tonje, the celebrated general who carried out the first major reforms in the military, which included disbandment of the Women Service Corps leading to the inclusion of women in the mainstream military ranks, establishment of the Defence Staff College and Defence Forces Medical Insurance Scheme.

General Tonje also introduced term limits for military officers ending the era of military chiefs who overstayed in office. His predecessors, General Mohamed served for 10 years and General Mulinge for a whole 15 years.

General Tonje was succeeded by Joseph Kibwana, the general who oversaw the smooth transition of power from the ruling President Daniel Moi Kanu regime to Opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki following the 2002 General Election.

General Jeremiah Kianga, Kibwana’s successor, was the Chief of Staff during the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

SHABAAB WAR

General Kianga was succeeded by Julius Karangi, who will be remembered as the Chief of Defence Forces who led Kenyan troops to war, the first time in the country’s history.

As fate is, General Kibochi is expected to the military chief to bring Kenyan soldiers back home from Somalia.

Troop contributing countries to the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom) are expected to leave Somalia by December 2021.

“In the post-Amisom era, KDF will need a combination of internal coordination within a multi-agency context, stronger partnerships, rigorous training and discipline, creative approaches, responsiveness to technological evolutions and constant modernisation,” Gen Kibochi writes in the book War For Peace Kenya’s Military in the African Mission in Somalia, 2012-2020, which was launched on Friday.