NAKURU, October 8 – President Mwai Kibaki on Wednesday challenged military personnel to embrace a culture of continuous learning to keep pace with regional stability challenges posed by new technology.,
He said all sectors of life were rapidly changing due to the continuous explosion in Information Communication Technology (ICT) knowledge.
"As you are aware, technological developments, particularly ICT have brought new security challenges. You are therefore expected to be conversant with these and other areas of concern in the military field through continuous training," President Kibaki said at the Armed Forces Officer Cadets Commissioning Parade at Lanet.
He acknowledged the existing collaboration between public universities and the armed forces saying the partnership between the Ministry of Defence and Egerton University had enabled implementation of a continuous training programme for military personnel.
"I urge officers to take advantage of these opportunities in order to acquire more skills. This not only serves to advance the academic standards of our military officers but also necessary for career progression," advised the Head of State.
President Kibaki said besides safeguarding the country’s territorial integrity, the armed forces played a key role in facilitating the resettlement of persons displaced from their homes following the post-election violence earlier in the year.
"In addition to safeguarding our territory, the armed forces have continued to engage in humanitarian activities that have accelerated development and improved the lives of our rural communities in various parts of the country", President Kibaki noted.
In this regard, the Head of State said the military provided transportation for over 8,000 internally displaced persons who were relocated to their homes in Molo, Cherangany and Trans Nzoia in addition to rehabilitating 12 schools vandalised during the skirmishes.
"The armed forces have continued to play an active role in the distribution of famine relief food, as well as disaster mitigation programmes in various parts of the Country. Other activities by the armed forces in support of the civilian population include construction of roads, dams and boreholes as well as building social amenities such as schools and dispensaries," the President said.
On the proliferation of small arms, the Head of State urged Kenyans to cooperate with security agencies in mopping up illicit weapons to build a secure and prosperous society.
The Head of State said the illegal firearms posed a serious security challenge, especially in Northern Kenya where banditry and cattle-rustling remained a concern despite efforts by the security agencies.
"In addition to civilian activities, my government recognises the support the armed forces have continued to extend to other organs of the Government, particularly the Police in maintaining security. I wish to note the role of the forces in mopping up illicit arms in parts of the country," the President noted.
The Head of State, who is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, also urged the disciplined forces to demonstrate unwavering loyalty to the country and the government as they uphold the highest standards of professional excellence and integrity.
On security in neighbouring countries, President Kibaki said Kenya took pride in the good reputation of the armed forces on peace keeping missions abroad, which he noted, was in line with the policy of promoting and maintaining peace at the regional and international levels.
"Indeed it is only when our neighbours have peace that we can in turn expect to enjoy our own peace and security. We are therefore happy with the exemplary participation of our military personnel in United Nations peacekeeping missions all over the world," he said.
The President urged the armed forces to strive to uphold the reputation and commendation of their performance by the international community in their the peacekeeping assignment in Ethiopia, Eritrea, South and Western Sudan, the Ivory Coast, Western Sahara, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Kosovo.
The officer cadets have successfully completed a 20-month diploma course in military science.
On his way to State House Nakuru, President Kibaki made a stop-over at Lanet Primary school where he wished pupils countrywide well in their studies.
President Kibaki said it was through hard work in school that students could excel in their final examinations and secure employment to live decent lives.