Ahead of withdrawal from Somalia, KDF builds 14 bases along common border
NAIROBI, Kenya - The Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] has established 14 Forward Operating Bases [FOBs] along the common border with Somalia, just a few weeks before the official down-scaling of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] kicks off in compliance with Somali Transition Plan [STP].
This, insiders say, is a strategy to boost security along the border ahead of strategic exit from the Horn of Africa nation, where KDF has been part of the peacekeeping mission for the last decade. The FOBs will play a critical role during and after the exit, Defence Minister Aden Duale says.
“We are fully committed that when the drawdown from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] comes, we are secure as a country by ensuring that when al-Shabaab feels the heat of the Somalia Security Forces they don’t come to find refuge in Kenya.”
“Our military has a conspicuous presence along the borderline to ensure that Kenyans are secure,” Duale said.
As part of stabilizing Somalia, the drawdown of soldiers was agreed by Troops Contributing Countries after a conference in Uganda last month which brought together various regional leaders and stakeholders among them the European Union [EU] and United Nations who are key financiers of the mission.
Duale made the remarks when he appeared before the Departmental Committee on Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee to defend the ministry budget for the Financial Year 2023/24. He said KDF will continue to undertake critical roles in the stabilization process.
According to him, the Ministry of Defence has a tradition of being cost-effective and doing projects within the shortest time possible, saying the ministry remains committed to undertaking government projects in support of civil authorities.
To facilitate ongoing modernization and expansion of KDF, Duale has asked parliament to approve proposed budgetary allocations. He further implored the lawmakers to provide the necessary funding to enable recruitment before the end of 2023, an exercise that has not been done for the last two years owing to budgetary constraints, The Star reports.
“We constructed Ulinzi Complex in a record 18 months. Uhuru Gardens, which we supervised its construction shall be handed over by December this year.”
“We are supervising the construction of Embu Stadium, which shall host this year’s Madaraka Day celebrations. We shall be ready to supervise any project which we shall do with military precision within the shortest time possible and without wastage of resources,” he said.
Duale told the committee that MoD leadership is doing an analysis to see whether it’s viable to make the Semi-Autonomous Government Agencies [SAGAS] domiciled in the Ministry independent government parastatals.
“The Ministry has three SAGAS and are chaired by the sitting Chief of Defence Forces [CDF] and Service Commanders. In the next 60 days, we shall have a mechanism to see whether they shall be independent SAGAS with their own budget to ensure that none of our Generals faces litigation,” Duale said.
Last week, Kenya agreed to open her common borders with Somalia in three phases, an exercise which will take place within the next 90 days. The two countries agreed on some basics of the fight against Al-Shabaab, including having joint patrols along the porous border.