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Kenya, army shakeup expected

Published on March 25, 2008, 12:00 am

By Ben Agina

Ripples caused by the power-sharing pact seem to have extended to the military as it emerged that promotions and postings have been delayed pending a political settlement.

The Standard has reliably learnt that the Defence Council, which has not met since last May, has its hands tied and cannot go ahead with promotions, postings or even retirement.

The Defence Council meets twice a year, in May and November. It did not meet in November due to the political atmosphere at that time. It is now expected to meet in two month’s time to determine the fate of those due for promotion or retirement. Their cases are still pending.

It is now understood that there could be a shake up in the military to balance the key positions in the context of the grand coalition.

Sources familiar with military issues stated that the promotions and postings, which are long overdue, are expected to go in tandem with the portfolio balance President Kibaki, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and prime minister-designate, Mr Raila Odinga, are trying to grapple with.

As is the military tradition, the Number II Board of the Armed Forces, comprising the three Service Commanders (Army, Air Force and Navy), meet and make recommendations for appointments, promotions, postings and retirement of officers above the rank of Major.

Soldiers on parade during a past national day. Promotions in the army have been delayed.

They then prepare minutes for the Number I Board meeting usually chaired by the Chief of General Staff, General Jeremiah Kianga, and attended by the three Service Commanders.It is after the Number I Board meeting that the Defence Council sits to deliberate on the recommendations.

The meetings are attended by the Minister for Defence, who represents the President, Defence Permanent Secretary, Chief of General Staff, Vice-CGS and Service Commanders.

The assistant Vice-CGS is usually the secretary of the meeting.

The council, through the Defence minister, is then expected to forward names to the President for endorsement and implementation.

There are fears now that the failure by the Defence Council to meet could put in jeopardy the future of senior officers with special skills as they may not be considered for higher positions.

For instance, the post of Director Military Intelligence, whose holder is supposed to be a Major-General, has not been filled by an officer of the rank since the death of Maj-Gen Gerald Muchemi last year.

The current holder is a Brigadier. This is just one of the many pending promotions, The Standard established.

“Some officers with specialised skills cannot be promoted because their hope lies with the Defence Council. The longer the Council fails to meet the faster they fade out of the service,” said a source.

But as Kenyans await the power-sharing deal to begin taking shape, the Defence Council is expected to go back to the drawing board and reconsider some of the names that had been forwarded to it for promotion, postings and retirement.

The last senior appointments President Kibaki made in August, 2005 after the Defence Council meeting, saw General Kianga replace General Joseph Kibwana and Lieutenant-General Julius Karangi replace Lieutenant-General Nick Leshan as the Vice-Chief of General Staff.

Apart from Service Commanders, other key positions in the military and the Department of Defence include the Commandant National Defence College, Commandant Defence Staff College and Commandant Armed Forces Training College (AFTC).

Others are the Assistant CGS Personnel and Logistics, Directing Staff NDC, Chief Instructor AFTC, Chief Instructor DSC, Chief of Operations MOD, Chief of Systems MOD, Director Military Intelligence and Chief of Plans MOD.

Two years ago, the military effected a new requirement for promotions to consolidate professionalism in the armed forces.

No military officer would rise to the rank of Major and above without a degree in military science.

To enable officers study for degrees, the Ministry of Defence is paying tuition fees for them to pursue a BSc degree in Military Science offered at Egerton University.

While launching the degree programme at Moi Air Base, Air Force Commander, Maj-Gen Harun Tangai, told officers pursuing the course: “Your promotion to the rank of Major will depend on attaining a degree by 2010, among other requirements.”

He said the degree would provide military officers with an opportunity to boost their professional ability through academic progression without interrupting their careers.

“This would effect an evolution of the Kenyan officer cadre to the status of their contemporaries in the civil world with a view to enabling them face social, economic, political, military and other challenges in the world today,” said Tangai.

The aim was to give officers an opportunity for academic and professional standards, including postgraduate studies, as is the case with other professions.

The programme also aims at preparing military officers how to plan, design and implement innovative projects and services with the available resources.

Officers would also be able to evaluate and analyse situations, make rational decisions and adjust to different working environments.

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About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.

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