Kenyan military set for ‘massive expansion’

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Somalia's army soldiers and peacekeepers from AMISOM enter the town of Barawe during the second phase of Operation Indian Ocean. (Getty) The expansion is thought to place the Kenyan military in a better position to face other large international militaries, and protect the country in the event of a foreign attack. Image courtesy: Strategic Intelligence Service
The expansion is thought to place the Kenyan military in a better position to face other large international militaries, and protect the country in the event of a foreign attack. Image courtesy: Strategic Intelligence Service
The expansion is thought to place the Kenyan military in a better position to face other large international militaries, and protect the country in the event of a foreign attack. Image courtesy: Strategic Intelligence Service

Kenya’s military is set for a “massive expansion” in capacity and capability, a new report has said.

The expansion is thought to place the Kenyan military in a better position to face other large international militaries, and protect the country in the event of a foreign attack.

The National Defence Policy, launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, said Kenya should not lose focus of other large militaries within the East African region.

“In the past, our forces and overall capacity has been small and fairly limited in scope,” President Kenyatta said in a statement.

“Increasing conflicts have compelled Kenya to review her ability to defend the nation against more threatening aspects of these conflicts. In response to these threats, our defence forces have to expand both in capacity and capability.”

He added: “Our military posture will remain defensive, however, should our nation be subjected to aggression, our forces should be able to deal with the aggressor decisively.”

The white paper, as the policy is referred to in military parlance, also highlights the current security threats facing the country and the measures that should be set in motion in the event of full-blown conflict.

Recently, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), an independent global security think-tank, revealed Kenya’s military spending last year rose to a new high of $933 million.

Kenya’s military spending is double what Ethiopia and Uganda spent respectively in their defence budget last year, the report shows.

Within the region, Tanzania is next in line after Kenya in the military spending order, having spent $544 million on defence.

On May 2, the U.S. government authorised the sale of 12 new American-made light attack helicopter gunships to Kenya.

The Daily Nation reports that the military deal also involves the supply of 24 heavy machine gun pods, 24 HMP400 machine gun pod systems, 24 M260 rocket pods and 4,032 M151 high-explosive rockets.

It also includes 1,536 M274 smoke rockets, 400,000 rounds of .50 calibre ammunition and communications/navigation equipment.

The White Paper, the first to be made public, further provides a guide on how the military and other security agencies should be deployed to defend the country.

“We shall cooperate with all those willing to cooperate with us and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all [other] states. We shall spare no effort in promoting peace. But we are equally determined to use all means at our disposal including military force to uphold our sovereignty and the security of our people,” the report stated.

And whenever force is applied, desired results should be achieved in the shortest time possible and peace efforts restarted, it added.

With the Kenyan election fast approaching in August, experts wonder whether this current military spending plan will have an effect on the way people vote.

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