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Kenya -- Defense

Kenya's armed forces are relatively small and have thus been called on only in domestic conflicts. Kenya has little capability of exerting military influence outside its borders. Their combat worthiness in the field remain untested since independence. In 1994, military expenditures were $134 million, about 3.9% of the GDP. Military branches include the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the paramilitary General Service Unit which is used internally during political and civil disturbances.

The commander in chief of Kenya's military defense is the nation's president. Just under the president, the minister of defense presides over the Defense Council. The nation's Defense Headquarters is headed by the chief of the defense staff, who also serves as commander of the army. The National Assembly is the deliberative body charged with the right to declare war.

Military service is fulfilled by voluntary enlistment, generally for a period of nine years. The armed forces employ about 13,350 men and women. The army's organization is as follows: 1 armed brigade, 2 infantry brigades, 1 engineer brigade, 1 armored reconnaissance battalion, 2 artillery battalions, 2 engineer battalions, 1 independent air cavalry battalion, 5 infantry battalions, 1 parachute battalion, air wing with 15 armored helicopters. Its equipment includes 76 Vickers Mark 3 tanks, 76 armored reconnaissance vehicles, 62 armored personnel carriers, 56 105mm. guns, 12 155mm. Howitzers, 30 mortars, 50 recoil-less rifles, and a number of antitank guided weapons. The army's air forces are made up of 28 combat aircraft, 22 transports, 14 trainers, and 44 helicopters. The Navy employs 650 personnel; it has 3 patrol boats and 4 fast attack craft. Kenya's naval base is in Mombasa; its air bases include Eastleigh (Nairobi), Nanyuki, Embakasi, Nyeri, Mombasa, and Kisumu[1] . The British military retains a presence in Kenya, with 300 British military officers on duty supporting the Kenyan armed forces. Combined training exercises are held annually. An agreement with the US in the early 1980s gave US forces access to Kenyan air force and naval facilities in exchange for increased military and economic aid.

In 1982, the air force attempted a coup against President Moi. The coup failed and over 1,000 air force personnel were arrested and the air force was disbanded and put under the operational command of the army.

[1] Kurian, George Thomas 1992. Encyclopedia of the Third World, fourth edition, volume III, Facts on File: New York, N.Y., pp.983-984.




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