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Why Ruto, Gen Kahariri Must Deal Decisively with Indiscipline Within KDF


Editor’s note: A former KDF officer, SPK (full name withheld on request) writes on recent spate of indiscipline in the military.

The recent misbehaviour by Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers points to growing indiscipline in the military.

The recent spate of indiscipline started in Lodwar, in Turkana County, when soldiers going to fetch water attacked a police officer at a road block.

Apart from slapping the officer, the rogue soldiers went ahead to confiscate the police officer’s rifle while asking him to collect it at their camp.

What followed was that the brave Administration Police officers rounded up the rogue soldiers and even booked them at the police station.

READ ALSO: What GoK Pays Families of KDF Soldiers Killed in Line of Duty

In the ensuing melee, the arrested soldier’s colleagues made their way to the AP camp and even tried to forcefully release their colleagues.

Ideally, police hand over arrested KDF soldiers to the Military Police, who then take over the matter.

However, soldiers implicated in capital offences like murder and robbery with violence are normally discharged from the service. Thereafter they can stand trial in civilian court.

In this instance, the police had charged the arrested KDF soldiers with robbery with violence (for stealing the police officer’s rifle).

What’s more, there followed the shameful incident of the slapping of a ferry security official and the beating up of a civilian police officer at the Likoni Ferry crossing by the KDF’s Special Forces soldiers.

There was also the other case of a KDF soldier in Kilifi who assaulted police officers and released a terror suspect in custody.

The most recent was in Nairobi, where soldiers from Kabete Barracks assaulted police officers who were trailing a suspect on a motorcycle.

In a brazen show of impunity, the KDF soldiers even went ahead to hide the suspect in their barracks.

If court martialed, the soldiers could face up to 9 years imprisonment or sack, at least according to the KDF Act 2012.

The training of soldiers is such that the behaviour of a single soldier speaks volumes about the discipline of the whole army.

It is for this reason that whole militaries or branches have been dissolved after a few soldiers mutinied.

Poor leadership and impunity

For the last few weeks, I have been reading and watching videos of Kenyans cheering on the soldiers for their indiscipline.

However, the truth is that the recent behaviour of the KDF soldiers points to poor leadership and impunity in the military.

As a former KDF officer, I can say soldiers are, to a degree, as disciplined as their commanders.

That is to say, a good number of soldiers would misbehave if they knew there would be no consequences for their actions.

One of the challenges commanders in the KDF and other disciplined forces face is the few and entitled elements out to wreck the good reputation of the military.

Some of these elements bought their way into the military and have no passion or respect for the job.

These entitled elements are the ones who face off with police at Chang’aa dens and bars in a bid to show off.

Entertaining these elements in the military officially makes Kenya a banana republic.

You will rarely find soldiers in the US and other developed countries obstructing police from performing their duties.

Rogue commanders

Now there are bad commanders in the military, just as there are bad cooperation managers.

The bad military commanders give their soldiers a lot of levity, and this is where the bad elements thrive.

Such are the commanders who will occasionally disparage police officers before their juniors, erroneously perpetuating the misguided notion that soldiers are above the law.

One cannot help asking: Is the head of military police and other commanders who should ensure discipline sleeping on the job?

The KDF, or any military for that matter, should never tolerate indiscipline and impunity within its rank and file.

The Kenyan military must redeem itself from the current image of an army teetering on the rogue.

READ ALSO: Why KDF Wants These 25 Ex-Soldiers Re-Arrested to Serve Life Sentence

The KDF is the people’s military, and it must never depart from that calling.

President William Ruto and the new Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen Charles Kahariri, must ensure that discipline is restored in the military.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the position of We welcome writers to give their views on various social  issues. Send your opinion to [email protected].

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