Find a Security Clearance Job!

Military


Kenya Army - Order of Battle - Light Forces

3 Kenya Rifles [3 KR] traces its history to the first private armed forces recruited by the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1888 to protect its trading interests and to garrison its trading posts in the interior of the country during the early phase of British colonialism. The company forces formed and raised in Kenya were organized from the East African Rifles and later became the 3rd Battalion of the Kings African Rifles stationed at Fort Jesus in Mombasa in 1900.

However, in 1902 the battalion was officially designed as the 3rd Kings African Rifles and stationed in Nairobi. During the First World War in 1914, 3 KAR was continually involved in expeditions and campaigns against the Germans in East Africa. The battle of Narungombe during the First World War was one of the many fought by 3 Kings Africa Rifles. 3 KR, as the oldest Kenyan battalion has played a big role in the protection and policing of East African territories. It participated in the Shifta Campaign in the North Eastern, Eastern and Coast Provinces between 1963 and 1968.

When the Somali Republic gained independence in 1960, she started an expansionist campaign claiming part of the Northern Frontier District (NFD) now North Eastern Province. Groups of armed shiftas (bandits) started a clandestine insurgency movement, aimed at claiming the NFD District, which they claimed belonged to Somalia. 3 KR played a major role in crushing this menace and defending the countrys borders. All along, the battalion was stationed at Lugard barracks now Nanyuki Barracks.

The battalion also carried out its secondary role of aid to civil authorities and performance of ceremonial duties. The battalion has won many trophies in various fields of competition like rifle shooting, athletics, boxing and football.

5 Kenya Rifles [5th Bn KR] played a leading role in countering the threat when Somalia gained independence in July 1960 and laid claim to the North Eastern Province (NEP) of Kenya. Attempts to solve the issue diplomatically failed as Somalia used aggressive means in her expansionist policy. 5 KR became the 1st battalion to be deployed to counter the insurgency. Throughout the campaign, known as the Shifta War, the battalion fought gallantly and its officers and men were awarded notable honors. Among them was Major Lenges who rose through the ranks to become the Army Commander. He received the Uhodari Medal (UM) in the campaign.

In 2003-2004, the US began providing support to two regular Kenyan Infantry Battalions of 250-450 soldiers each, the 5th and 7th Kenya Rifles. Training for these battalions included field intelligence, basic maneuver and firepower, and command and control. Equipment provided to these units included approximately $3.8 million worth of vehicles (HMMWV's and trailers for fuel, water, and cargo), personal protective and navigational equipment, and handheld radios. Small arms and ammunition were provided in 2006 with 1206 funding. The Kenyan battalion level leadership underwent the entire training program first, and they became the primary trainers for the battalions. Training cycles lasted approximately four weeks each and included team, section, and platoon-level training.

7 Kenya Rifles [7 KR] came into being on June 8, 1968. The unit was located at Gilgil in a camp formerly held by British troops. This camp had been abandoned in 1964. The first task of the unit was cleaning and repairing of the camp. The first commanding officer of the unit Was Lt Col Wambua. The unit relocated to its current base at Langata in 1973. The unit has had 16 Commanding officers. Lt Coll. L. Lenges Who was the CO between 1979 rose to the rank of Lt Gen and Commander of the Kenya Army. Brig (rtd) Boinet who became the director of Kenya National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) was the unit adjutant in 1979.

In 2003-2004, the US began providing support to two regular Kenyan Infantry Battalions of 250-450 soldiers each, the 5th and 7th Kenya Rifles. Training for these battalions included field intelligence, basic maneuver and firepower, and command and control. Equipment provided to these units included approximately $3.8 million worth of vehicles (HMMWV's and trailers for fuel, water, and cargo), personal protective and navigational equipment, and handheld radios. Small arms and ammunition were provided in 2006 with 1206 funding. The Kenyan battalion level leadership underwent the entire training program first, and they became the primary trainers for the battalions. Training cycles lasted approximately four weeks each and included team, section, and platoon-level training.

1st Kenya Rifles [1 KR] was formed as the 11th Kings African Rifles (11th KAR) in 1941 as a Garrison unit and immediately after training it was sent to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) during World War 2. Immediately after its formation the Unit got involved in the Shifta campaign. The operation proved to be expensive in terms of loss of lives for the civilians and destroyed equipment.

The insurgency set the stage for the present day anti-banditry operations in North Eastern and Eastern counties of Kenya. Throughout the campaigns, the unit was deployed in company size with patrol bases in the general areas of Isiolo, Garbatula and Merti.Over the years, the battalion alongside other Kenya Army units has continued to actively participate in internal security operations. The unit has had significant achievements, for instance the recovery of a large number of assorted Weapons and ammunition in the Boka Wells Operations of 1996.

9th Battalion Kenya Rifles (9KR) was formed on September 1, 1979. Initial troops were drawn from other existing infantry units 3 KR, 5 KR and 7 KR. Thereafter, more officers and men were posted to the new unit. The Battalion is based at Moi Barracks near Eldoret town. President Daniel arap Moi presented it with her colours on December 12, 1980. The first Commanding officer of the Unit was Lt Col D. I. Opande (Now Lt Gen Rtd and former Force Commander UNAMSIL Sierra Leone). The unit has since undergone various command changes. The unit celebrated the 10th anniversary on September 1, 1989, and trooped its colours for the first time in December 12, 2001.

15 Kenya Rifles (15 KR) is the youngest infantry unit in the Kenya Army. The unit is located on the northern mainland of Mombasa at the Nyali beach hence its name Nyali Bare racks. It is a rifle unit forming the seventh infantry battalion of the Kenya Army establishment. The unit is currently composed of four rifle companies Support Company and Headquarter Company. 15 Kenya Rifles is the unit that served under United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in Namibia.

The unit was formed on March 13, 1989. It then consisted of five rifle companies namely A Company to E Company alphabetically and Headquarters and Support companies. The main objective in the formation of the unit was to have an infantry unit to be deployed with other United Nations forces in Namibia (then South West Africa) in peacekeeping mission.

20 Parachute Battalion / 20th Kenya Rifles (Airborne) grew from the idea of having an airborne force, which was perceived at Kenyas independence. On October 14, 1964, the first batch of 40 officers and men were sent to the UK for a parachute basic training course at the Royal Air Force Base, Abingdon. Similar numbers subsequently followed until about 200 Kenyan troops qualified to form the 1st Independent Parachute Company on April 24, 1965.

The first independent Parachute Company was based at Napier camp-Gilgil (now Kenyatta Barracks). The company was later incorporated into Support Battalion and changed its name to 1st Parachute Company with the first Officer commanding being Maj Galghain. The first African officer commanding the company was Maj Opande.

The companies of 20 Paratroop Battalion include a ranger strike company (The Rangers), a Special Force Company, a Support Company, a Headquarters Company and an independent Parachute Training School. This school trains not only the personnel of 20 Para as they are known for short, but other students from the Army and even from the Air Force and the Navy. Its divisions include Parachute Training Wing, Tactics Training Wing and Weapons Training Wing.

The Unit has contributed enormously in internal and external security operations. Some of these operations include the Shifta campaign in the North Eastern Province and the Ngoroko campaign in Turkana and West Pokot District to flush out the Ethiopian rebel group, Oromo Liberation Front. Other areas Where the Unit has operated are: Lokichogio (1991-1992), Garbanilla (1994 1996), Baragoi (1998 2001) and Hakati 2004 and 2005.

In March 2008, elements of the 20th Parachute Battalion (i.e., Headquarters, Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie companies) deployed to the Mt. Elgon region in western Kenya to participate in a joint police-military operation to secure the area from the Sabaot Land Defense Force, a local militia that since 2006 had engaged in a violent campaign to control land and local resources. A number of credible human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, subsequently alleged that security forces (including the military) committed human rights abuses during the operation.

30th Special Operations Battalion and the 40th Ranger Strike Force Battalion are equivalent to the United States Navy Seals. At the Westgate operation,the soldiers were most likely armed with two types of combat rifles, M4 combat and FN Scar. They are also good in physical combat, including martial arts and can easily contain an armed person with bare hands. They undergo extensive non-stop training for at least one and a half years, before attaining a qualifying mark and continue training frequently.

40th Ranger Strike Force Battalion and the 30th Special Operations Battalions are equivalent to the United States Navy Seals. ... At the Westgate operation,the soldiers were most likely armed with two types of combat rifles, M4 combat and FN Scar. They are also good in physical combat, including martial arts and can easily contain an armed person with bare hands. They undergo extensive non-stop training for at least one and a half years, before attaining a qualifying mark and continue training frequently.

In 2005, U.S. Special Operations Forces established episodic engagement with a company-sized element of the 20th Parachute Battalion called the Ranger Strike Force (RSF - then composed of approximately 99 soldiers), and conducted basic infantry training over the course of several Joint Combined Exercise Training events. From March 2008 to March 2009, SOCAF conducted a series of command-level visits and meetings with Kenyan Army leaders to shape future plans for the Ranger Strike Force development.

In 2008, congressional concerns were expressed regarding the further development of the KSOF/RSF when its parent unit at the time, the 20th Parachute Battalion, was alleged to have committed human rights violations during combat operations in the Mt. Elgon region of western Kenya. However, the Kenyan Ministry of Defense (KMOD), in close consultation with the US Mission, provided the deployment histories of soldiers to be trained and made organizational changes necessary to ensure that the new unit was not contaminated by these allegations.

50 Air Cavalry Battalion / 50 Kenya Rifles (Air Cavalry) (Embakasi) ( ACB / 50 KR) was set up as an aerial reconnaissance and airborne anti tank battalion on July 1, 1979. Prior to its implementation, there were suggestions that that the new unit was to be an Air Force unit, either attached to Helicopter Squadron of Eastleigh Air Base (Moi Air Base), or F5 Squadron at Nanyuki Air Base (Laikipia Air Base).

At the time of the units formation, the Army had no real aviation experience and, therefore, had to seek technical assistance from the Kenya Air Force. This is why two officers Lt Col (rtd) J. C. Kitundu and Captain (rtd) A. Omar were transferred from the Kenya Air Force to the Army and posted to the Unit. The then Army Commander Lt Gen (rtd) J. M. Sawe proposed that the new unit be named 50 ACB. In 1979, the new terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was opened, thus leaving the old Embakasi Airport unoccupied. The new unit was allocated part of this facility.

The first helicopters arrived in Kenya in the first week of December 1979 packaged in crates. After assembling the helicopters, the first public and official demonstration of the two helicopters was staged at Moi Air Base (MAB) Eastleigh, where they were put through all manuvers before high ranking Government officials.

The 50th Air Cavalry Battalion was one of the most significant additions to the army, taking delivery of 32 Hughes Defender helicopters in 1980 and 1981. Approximately one-half of the battalion was equipped with helicopters armed with the modern rapid-fire 30mm Chain Gun, while the other half fielded tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided (TOW) antitank missiles, produced in the United States. The battalion was composed of three companies, each of which could operate autonomously to support ground forces operations. Some members of the unit, attached to Embakasi Air Base, participated in the coup attempt. But most of its personnel remained loyal, and a TOW missile launched from a Defender is credited with destroying the rebel communications center at the base.

2 Brigade

The present infantry Brigades of the Kenya Army evolved from regimental units, some of which were inherited from the Kings African Rifles, while others were formed soon after independence. The idea of re-organising the Kenya Army into formations was conceived in 1975 by the then Ministry of Defence, due to the growing instability of some countries within the East African region and the horn of Africa.

The first Infantry Brigade was formed and deployed in Wajir town during the Ogaden War in 1977. The Brigade had a specific task of blocking the Western Somalia Liberation Front (WSLF) supported by the Somali National Army (SNA) from using Kenyan soil to cross into the Ogaden province of Ethiopia to Which Somalia had laid claim.

Col (rtd) Ayub commanded the Brigade. At the end of the Ogaden War in 1978, the Kenya Army Was re structured. In early 1979. Two infantry brigades were formed, the 2nd and 4th Brigades. The current 2nd Brigade was transformed from the Western Brigade with headquarters located in Gilgil, until November 2002 when it was relocated to Lanet.

4 Brigade

The history of Nanyuki Garrison dates to the days of the formation of the Kings African Rifles (KAR) in East Africa. During both the First and Second World Wars, this Garrison was used both as a training centre and as the headquarters of the Kings African Rifles for Northern and North Frontier Districts (NFD), the current upper Eastern and the Northern Eastern province.

The headquarters was closed at Kenyas independence in 1963. The Brigade was re-activated in 1977 during the Ogaden War as Eastern Brigade. During this time the country was divided into Western and Eastern Brigades under the command of Col Ayub and Col Shigoli respectively. Eastern Command moved its Headquarters to Wajir to monitor the activities of the Somali National Army who were crossing Kenya territory to attack Ethiopia Forces during the Ogaden War.

The Brigade has performed its roles, which involves defending the country against any armed aggression and aid to civil authority. This is illustrated by various operations undertaken by the Brigade such as Operation Fagia Mpaka in 1999 in Dadaab after Somalia militias attacked 3 KR personnel at Amuma and Operation Good Hope in 2003 to flush out OLE operatives in Marsabit and Moyale district.

Special Regiment

Special Forces are military units trained to perform unconventional high-risk missions such as counter-terrorism operations that may at times include hostage rescue. The bedrock of the countrys Special Forces operations is the 20 Parachute Battalion based in Gilgil. It is one of the oldest units of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).

The bloodbath at Miido was one of the lowest moments for KDF. On August 31, 2011, men from the Eldoret-based 9KR battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hassan left Afmadow for the 90km match towards the epicentre of the war Kismayu. But they were attacked from all sides a few kilometers after Afmadow. Thirty-six militias were killed and five Kenya Defence Forces personnel went missing. Hours after the attack, KDF deployed more men including a team from its highly trained Special Regiment unit to search for the missing.

At 4pm on Saturday of 21 September 2013, the first team from the Kenya Defence Forces Special Regiment made up of 40 Ranger Strike Force, 30 Special Forces and 20 Parachute Battalion, was deployed to Westgate Mall. The KDF men who also included men from Lan'gata Barracks Maroon Commandos [a military band belonging to the 7th battalion of the Kenyan Army, the senior most band in Kenya], 75 Artillery Battalion men based in Embakasi and men from Moi Airbase in Eastleigh, came armed. They carried powerful guns, had anti-tank weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition and helicopters hovering over the air.

This is when things allegedly went haywire and began to border on total embarrassment. The soldiers opened fire upon police officers from the Recce Squad - perhaps because the officers were out of uniform and were mistaken for terrorists. Constable Martin Kithinji was shot dead.





NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list