Huey Choppers and 11 Military Deals, Tight Protocols for Ruto

Ruto meets biden

Hello and welcome to the Evening Brief Newsletter where we are looking forward to a secure country when the infamous charter flight returns.

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Military Precision

After President William Ruto met his host in the United States on Wednesday, A 10,000-word fact sheet detailing all the deals and agreements made was released to the public.

At the very bottom, the two governments made strategic military agreements in which Kenya was mostly the beneficiary.

They included agreements donations of choppers and sophisticated armored vehicles and allowance of Kenya Defence Forces candidates to attend training overseas.

President William Ruto pays respects at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
President William Ruto pays respects at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Coming Full Circle: After getting dragged for chartering a plane and his team insisting that the end will justify the means, here are the biggest military deals Ruto signed in the US.

  • Choppers: Kenya will receive 16 U.S.-manufactured helicopters between late 2024 and summer 2025 to bolster its ability to provide regional peace and security (8 Hueys) and participate in peacekeeping missions (8 MD-500s).
  • Armored Vehicles: Kenya selected approximately 150 M1117 Armored Security Vehicles from U.S. Excess Defense Article stocks, which are projected to arrive in Kenya in September 2024.
  • KDF US Training: In a historic first, the first batch of KDF candidates will attend courses at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy beginning Summer 2024. Initially, Kenya only benefitted from the U.S. International Military Education Training courses.

"The U.S. military currently has seven advisors in Kenya supporting Kenyan aviators and for the first time, the United States is providing a Strategic Logistics Advisor to Kenya’s Ministry of Defence.  Kenya’s U.S.-trained Disaster Response Battalion has also been involved in recent search and rescue operations in response to recent flooding in Kenya," read the fact sheet.

  • Counterterrorism: Kenya committed to sharing counterterrorism information with the US and is in the process of joining Operation Gallant Phoenix, a program that advances multinational collaboration and sharing of terrorist information to build mutual capacity to collect and use battlefield evidence in civilian criminal justice proceedings in a multiagency, multinational setting.
  • Manda Airfield: Kenya will sign an MoU with the US to expand the Manda Bay Airfield in coastal Kenya by building a 10,000-foot runway. The airstrip has been a target of terror attacks in the past.
  • Courts: The US State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism announced $18.7 million (Ksh2.4 billion)  to help build the Kenyan criminal justice system’s ability to address terrorism threats in a manner consistent with the rule of law. The funds provide training, mentorship, and equipment to investigators, forensic examiners, law enforcement, court officials, and prosecutors.
  • Haiti: The US reaffirmed its support for Kenya’s plan to deploy 1,000 police to Haiti, scheduled to take place before the end of this month.
  • Border Security: The US, as part of its investments, will build Kenya's border security capabilities, increasing maritime security awareness, improving peacekeeping capacity, supporting humanitarian response, and strengthening civilian and military defense institutions. As of 2020, the US invested $230 million (Ksh30 billion) in civilian security.
  • Assylum: Two countries agreed to strengthen the asylum system after investing more than $667 million in humanitarian assistance in Kenya over the last 10 years. "This funding supports basic needs, protection, and durable solutions for refugees and other vulnerable populations."
  • Training; the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations is funding the Public International Law and Policy Group’s 12-month training program to establish an effective mediation/negotiations support unit in the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Peace and Security Directorate.
  • NATO: President Joe Biden informed Congress in US that he intends to designate Kenya as a Major Non-NATO Ally.  "The United States has a deep respect for Kenya’s contributions to global peace and security.  This is the first designation of a sub-Saharan African nation as a Major Non-NATO Ally."

Yes, But: President William Ruto on Thursday raised concerns about terrorism in the country following the withdrawal of peace-keeping forces in Somalia.

He, therefore, requested the intervention of the American government to beef up security in the region.

The withdrawal of the forces was based on the conclusion of the calendar allocation dates for the mission and not the prevailing conditions in Somalia, making the al Shabaab threat all that much pulpable.

Huey Helicopter
Huey Helicopter that is mostly used by military personnel during special operations.
Huey Helicopter Family

Other Agreements: The deals between Kenya and the US spanned several sectors including cybersecurity as well as finance.

  • Kenya inked a Ksh477 Billion ($3.6 billion) deal with the United States Government to facilitate the completion of Africa’s biggest toll road — the Nairobi- Mombasa Expressway. Usahihi, as the road will be named, is expected to have four to six lanes and will be constructed in the next 3-4 years.
  • The US Government extends a $51 million (approximately Ksh7 billion) loan to a Kenyan mobile lending company, M-Kopa. The loan aims to support the financing of up to $210 million (about Ksh29 billion) of smartphone receivables and cash loans, making devices more affordable for low-income borrowers.

Chat With a Security Expert

Haggai Chogo, a security Expert in Kenya, hailed the deals, especially KDF candidates training in the US as a game-changer but believes Kenya needs to get serious and upgrade its standards. (Text exchange below)

Derrick Okubasu: Ruto is in the US and part of the agreement allows KDF candidates to attend training in the US. Is that a good or a bad thing for Kenya

Haggai Choi: It is not bad. According to what it is, we need the latest skills and knowledge in security in comparison to the international status.

The problem is with our country in that quality service including providing relevant personnel. They should not misuse the name of KDF by sending non-KDF soldiers.

Tight Protocols

Whereas the State Visit by Ruto was an honour, the Head of State and his wife were subjected to strict protocols as my colleague Brian Kimani reports.

To commemorate this historic event, meticulous planning is done to understand the environment that the leaders will be in during the visit.

President William Ruto (left) having a talk with the United States President Joe Biden at the White House on May 22, 2024.

The protocols: Upon their arrival in Maryland on Wednesday, May 22, Ruto and the First Lady received a warm welcome from the First Lady of the United States Jill Biden.

  • The visiting leaders were then transported to the South Lawn of the White House to meet US President Joe Biden. It is the norm for visiting heads of state to greet the president in their native language.
  • During the entire visit, Ruto is accompanied by military footsoldiers before reaching the welcoming committee where he and Biden take the stage together.

National Anthem: During the official arrival ceremony, national anthems of Kenya and the US are played. No clapping is allowed after the anthems play.

Blair House: Ruto was ushered into Blair House, a complex with 109 rooms including 15 guest rooms, three dining rooms, two conference rooms, a hot and cold kitchen, and an exercise room, which served as his guest house.

State Dinner: Men attending the dinner are expected to wear black tie and the women wear floor-length gowns. Dinner is scheduled for today evening.

Gift Exchange: According to protocol, Both Biden and Ruto's gifts must bae of unique quality and portable to allow for ease of travel. The gift should not be too personal such as clothing, or jewelry.

  • The colour of the gift and its wrapping is also of great significance as they should not be in a colour that is too similar to the national flag of each country.

Here are 10 other stories we are keeping tabs on today;

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This newsletter was written by Derrick Kubasu and edited by Brian Muuo.

Washington Mito contributed to the content.

Graphics prepared by Adongo Kyalo.

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