, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 12 – Kenya will now occupy 16 top positions in the new command structure of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi said on Monday that meeting of regional military chiefs in Ethiopia had among other duties designated Kenya to take up one of the two deputy commanders’ posts.
Karangi who appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations, said the Kenya Defence Force will also be in charge of Information and Intelligence in AMISOM.
“The force headquarters in Mogadishu will have 85 military officers and out of those 16 will be Kenyans. Under the new command structure the force commander is going to be a Ugandan General with two deputies at the level of Major-General one from Kenya the other Burundi,” Karangi said.
He assured the committee that implementing resolutions of the meeting in Addis Ababa will not diminish KDF’s clout adding that the new format will be broken into four sectors with Kenya manning part of the eastern bloc upwards to River Juba.
“The AMISOM mandate in Somalia is not about peace keeping; there is no peace to be kept in Somalia. The posture that we adopted when we crossed into Somalia last year remains the same on air, land and sea,” he explained.
The United Nations Security Council last month ratified the expansion of AMISOM troops as well as its mandate, to include the pursuit of the Islamist Al Shabaab militia.
“We will be giving 4,660 troops to the restructured AMISOM force, which is the same as what we have on ground currently,” said the KDF commander.
Kenyan troops entered Somalia in pursuit of Al Shabaab militia in October last year.
Sierra Leone has also promised to send its troops to beef up the peace-enforcement force in Somalia. Under the new structure each of the Kenyan soldiers will be paid an additional monthly allowance of Sh84,398 (USD1,028) for the mission in Somalia.
“Our ability to deal with the enemy in Somalia is not diminished in any way. We’ll still pursue them on air, land and sea. We’ll be doing the same thing that Operation Linda Nchi has been doing, but at the expense of other entities,” said Karangi.
He said the move to rehat Kenyan forces was part of the KDF’s “exit strategy”.
The military chief added that Kenya had managed to create a “fairly safe buffer” in Somalia.
He presented classified maps and other operational details about the military incursion in Somalia during a closed-door session.