Kenya Military Strengths and WeaknessesJune 13 | Posted by David Goldman | Military Intelligence
Across the East and Central African region, Kenya remains the most militarily powerful country. This is based on its capabilities including assets and resources at disposal besides human resources. Latest acquisitions particularly long range surface to surface missiles SSM and surface to air missiles SAM has bolstered its capability to strike enemies strategic military positions. Another major boost to its capability was the acquisition of a new fleet of F-5 –Tiger strategic fighter jets. These, albeit commonplace perception they are old, are upgraded 1989 Northrop editions, hence superior. They have speed and precisions besides modern radar and an anti-aircraft fire detection and evasion system, in simple words. The new fleet totals 25 and will back up another 18 all in compact condition.
On Yearly basis, Kenya has been building up its infantry. Annually, 6000 troops are trained and the cadet school recruits hundreds of military aviators. As such, annually, an estimated 8,000 join the military. The military intelligence and the defense training college in Karen is a hub for senior military officials where strategy and geopolitics are assessed. Besides, the Kenyan military is disciplined well trained, and engaged in corporate social responsibility.
Military threats facing Kenya hardly suffice to be high level let alone raise a major threat to the country sovereignty. A case scenario is Uganda and Somalia. The Ugandan regime has an expansionist doctrine that has seen them eye specific locales across Lake Victoria. Militarily, Kenya has the capacity to fed off Uganda both using flak and flank but there has never been any troop’s movement or deployment to insinuate Kenya’s military response to such a threat. Along the border with Uganda, tribal militia-like communities keep moving in and out of either country or joint disarmament exercises.
Latest Military Realignment and Acquisitions in Uganda
Uganda spent billions of Ugandan shillings to acquire Russian fighter aircraft besides upgrading its infantry technical capability. Latest acquisition of Sukhoi fighter jets
Uganda, based on current threat matrix analysis poses a significant military threat based on two pronged factors. Its recent military upgrades including the acquisition of six sukhoi-20 mk2 fighter aircraft that are rated as top of the range fighters and the discovery of oil in the country is disturbing. It is right for Uganda to up its air defenses and upgrade its military technical capability based on its rising economic fortunes and the arising need to keep such resources safe. On the other hand, geopolitics force Kenyan oil rich north to remain an unexploited oil reserve but rising energy costs and Ugandan oil requires balancing the act.
Migingo and Ugingo Island issues are geopolitical and a big issue all together. Kenyan military strategists and their intelligence counterparts have for a year now sought a way out without considering a military strike on Uganda owing to the fact that the F-5E cannot match sukhoi-20 mk2 fighter which Museveni is desperate to use. Instead, the NSIS proposed top-secret acquisitions of superior fighter aircraft. According to a series of defense, meetings between Kenyan air force officials, and agreed to seek which among US 35- F-15 fighter aircrafts should be delivered to cushion Kenyan against the increasing threat from her neighbors.
Besides the F-15, the country has already acquired 50 z-9w attack helicopters from China and another fleet of Harbin gunship attack helicopters. In continuum for the rising levels of threat and powerful enemy flak, the NSIS along Military intelligence have been talking for sellers of F-15, JF-17, and Mi35 gunships to up the Kenya air force and diversify its technical and tactical capability.
Regional Balance Necessitates More Military Spending in Kenya
Kenya ranks 40 in military spending globally. However, the defense expenditure is warranted given the strategic position of Kenya in the region besides its strategic importance to Britain, Israel, and United States. The same scenario now applies to the Chinese. Massive infrastructure upgrades and construction in Kenya have been the responsibility of the Chinese since 2005 when President Kibaki began specific economic reforms in the country. Defense expenditure plans have been cushioned from publicity besides keeping the clandestine due to the sensitive nature of arms info that can prompt an arms race in the region. There is also the issue of Kenyan security pact with Ethiopia, which shields both from armed conflicts. Southern Sudan military, a rebel outfit without discipline is now being trained and equipped by the Kenya army. Kenya main fear lies within Khartoum, Uganda, and Somalia.
Sudan has sought to repress the Juba regime and now that cessation was confirmed, keeping Khartoum away by building an army in the South besides adequately arming it is sensible and a long-term strategy. The theatre of the complex matrix of this threat compounds when type of arms comes to focus. Training pilots is expensive and cumbersome and the Southern Sudanese are not yet ready to fly an F-5E, an Instrument Kenya desperately wants to give them. Khartoum has MIGs, latest editions, besides a long-range facility that is producing a sizeable amount of surface to air and surface-to-surface missiles. The target would be Juba and Kenya since Kenya is the Juba proxy.
Ugandan oil and visits by President Museveni in the recent past has prompted the war-happy Museveni to acquire armor and air defense including the 6-Sukhoi from Russia. Museveni has since then felt confident enough to try Kenyan military by taking two islands, a geopolitical dilemma for Kenya. Kenya will only respond once the 35-F-15 from the United States are delivered and tested. The United States stopped using the F-15 after unverified mechanical-and system problems caused crashes during recent mock action. With Kenya one of the world’s most secretive army besides spending massively annually, it is yet to be verified what exactly has been acquired, disposed, or upgraded. Such information surfaces two or more years after it is done and the detail is scanty.
Somali’s extremists seek to expand their communal presence across the borders of Somalia, meaning Kenyan and Ethiopia will be annexed. Preparing an army that is well equipped and with sufficient intelligence framework to counter the threat is an urgent need. With a larger army today, and a fleet of armored vehicles/humvees, more land rovers, hundreds of Steyers, hundreds of main battle tanks with better armor, thousands of rockets, hundreds of missiles, a fleet of F-15 Eagles, Chinook attack helicopters, Harbins gunships, MD 500s, besides missile launchers, among many new and modern weaponry, Kenya is balancing the act and tilting the power balance to its favor as usual.