Kenya Army

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Kenyan Army
Jeshi la Ardhi la Kenya
Seal of the Kenya Army.png
Coat of arms of the Kenya Army
CountryFlag of Kenya.svg Kenya
Type Army
Part of Flag of the Kenya Defence Forces.svg Kenya Defence Forces
Command Headquarters Nairobi, Kenya
Equipment186 main battle tanks (primarily Vickers), a few thousand military vehicles, 78 helicopters
Engagements Second World War (as King's African Rifles)
Shifta War (1963–67)
Mount Elgon insurgency (2005-08)
Operation Linda Nchi (2011–12) and African Union Mission in Somalia (2012–present)
Commander-in-ChiefPresident Uhuru Kenyatta
Commander Lt. Gen Walter Koipaton Raria
Flag Flag of the Kenyan Army.png

The Kenya Army is the land arm of the Kenya Defence Forces.

Kenya Defence Forces combined armed forces of Kenyas military

The Kenya Defence Forces are the armed forces of the Republic of Kenya. The Kenya Army, Kenya Navy, and Kenya Air Force comprise the national Defence Forces. The current Kenya Defence Forces were established, and its composition laid out, in Article 241 of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya; the KDF is governed by the Kenya Defence Forces Act of 2012. The President of Kenya is the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces.



The origin of the present day Kenya Army may be traced from the King's African Rifles of British colonial forces. [1] The reasons that necessitated the recruitment and formation of troops that preceded the King's African Rifles and in essence the Kenya Army are as many as they are varied. It will be difficult to analyse them without tracing the events that were unfolding in the East African region during the last quarter of the 19th Century. This period was characterised by active involvement of the British in the enforcement of abolition of slave trade in East Africa.

Kings African Rifles

The King's African Rifles (KAR) was a multi-battalion British colonial regiment raised from Britain's various possessions in East Africa from 1902 until independence in the 1960s. It performed both military and internal security functions within the colonial territory, and served outside these territories during the World Wars. The rank and file (askaris) were drawn from native inhabitants, while most of the officers were seconded from the British Army. When the KAR was first raised there were some Sudanese officers in the battalions raised in Uganda, and native officers were commissioned towards the end of British colonial rule.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

During the same period other European nations were also developing spheres of influence in Africa. In this rivalry the British established the Imperial British East Africa Company to take care of its interests. As these interests developed and expanded, there was need to create a more formidable force to safeguard these interests and expansion. It is out of this that the first indigenous land forces in Kenya can be traced.

Imperial British East Africa Company company

The Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEAC) was the administrator of British East Africa, which was the forerunner of the East Africa Protectorate, later Kenya. The IBEAC was a commercial association founded to develop African trade in the areas controlled by the British colonial power. Created after the Berlin Treaty of 1885, it was led by William Mackinnon and built upon his company's trading activities in the region, with the encouragement of the British government through the granting of an imperial charter—although it remained unclear what this actually meant. It granted immunity of prosecution to British subjects whilst allowing them the right to raise taxes, impose custom duties, administer justice, make treaties and otherwise act as the government of the area.

In 1873 the Sultan of Zanzibar, Seyyid Barghash, signed the final treaty to abolish slave trade in all his dominions. The task of enforcing the abolition was vested on the British Royal Navy Fleet under Admiral Freeman Tie.

In 1877 a Royal Navy Officer, Lt Lloyd Matthews, serving on HMS London formed a small force of 300 Zanzibaris for the purpose of combating the slave trade. During the following year Lt Matthews was given leave to serve under the Sultan who appointed him Brigadier General in command of the newly established force. By 1880 the force had grown to 1300 men who were all armed with Snider rifles donated to the Sultan by the British Government.

On 8 September 1888 the British Africa Company was granted a royal charter and was charged with the responsibility of administering British East Africa on the liens of a Crown colony. In 1893 the three-year contract with the Indian contingent came to an end. During the same period the company was experiencing serious financial problems that had led to the abandonment of Uganda and Jubaland in fact, the company could barely police the coast. Then British Consul in Zanzibar at the time, Sir Arthur Hardinge notified the foreign office of his intention of taking over East Africa from the company. The British government accepted. On 1 July 1895 a British protectorate was declared over all the areas previously administered by the company. The company troops were subsequently reorganized under Capt Hatch.

Uganda Republic in East Africa

Uganda, officially the Republic of Uganda, is a country in East-Central Africa. It is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is in the African Great Lakes region. Uganda also lies within the Nile basin, and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate.

In August 1895 the British government sanctioned the establishment of a force composed of 300 Punjabi, 300 Swahili, 100 Sudanese, and 200 soldiers from various ethnic groups in the region. This force was renamed the East African Rifles and was formed from the former IBEA force in Mombasa (Fort Jesus). As the King's African Rifles, the force fought against the Mau Mau rebels under the command of British officers and on the side of loyalist Kenyans and those who advocated a peaceful transition to independence, such as Jomo Kenyatta.

Peacekeeping missions and other conflicts

In addition to the primary role of the defense of the Republic of Kenya and the secondary role of aid to civil authority, the Kenya Army has participated and continues to participate in international Peace Support Operations. Peace Support Operations within the Kenya Army can be traced back to 1973 when the United Nations requested Kenya to contribute forces for Peace Support Operations in the volatile Middle East after the 1973 Israeli/Arab war. Though Kenya acceded to the UN request, the troops were not deployed due to various logistical constraints.

The first comprehensive participation of the Kenya Army in Peace Support Operations was in 1979, when the Commonwealth requested the Republic of Kenya to contribute troops for a peace mission in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The country was emerging from a liberation war waged against the regime of Ian Smith which had unilaterally declared independence from the British.

Subsequently, the Kenya Army contributed officers towards Peace Support Operations in Chad in 1982 on the request of the Organization of African Unity. Kenya has consistently participated in the United Nations Peace-Keeping operations since 1989 when she sent military observers and an infantry battalion to Namibia. Kenya has ranked number 6 out of the 90 countries who contribute military and civilian police to the UN operations.

Since 1989, [1] Kenya has contributed military observers, staff officers, civilian police monitors, and infantry troops to various missions. [2] The level of participation has also included force commanders, chief military observers, and chiefs of staff to the following UN and AU missions:

To date, Kenyan United Nations peacekeepers have served in 16 different countries in Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Asia. The period of deployment of the personnel has varied from mission to mission, in accordance with the complexities of each conflict situation. Missions have ranged from one to eight years.


The Kenya Army is made up of various formations and services.

Kenya Army Formations:

110 Brigade 112 Brigade

Kenya Army services:

This Corps mainly deals with maintenance of motor and mechanical equipment that is used in the Kenya Army. It is based at Kahawa Garrison along Thika Road.

It is based at the Defence Headquarters along Lenana Road Nairobi

Medical Battalion

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  1. 1 2 "Ministry of Defence – Kenya" . Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  2. "Peacekeeping Operations". Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013.