Factors working against KDF’s ‘Operation Linda Nchi’ in Somalia

‘Kenya is said to have attacked al-Shabaab bases following the Friday morning massacre.’

Why do we only hear such kind of news after Kenya has been hit?

Does it mean these bases never existed prior to the attack but only sprout after the attacks? I leave that for another day.

Unnamed sources claim at least 63 soldiers died in the Friday attacks against the KDF base in El Adde in the Gedo region, 12 officers are being held by the terror group as prisoners of war (POW) while 15 others are missing in action (MIA). This is yet to be confirmed by the KDF authorities.

But, even as we mourn our gallant soldiers who died in Somalia, we must not shy away from pointing out the ills that bedevil KDF operations in Somalia and the dangers therein. Kenya in an effort to show its might, placed its soldier in Somalia.

Though under AMISOM, KDF has always been in the limelight, you hear very little about Rwanda, Burundi or Ugandan soldiers yet they are part of active AMISOM troops operating in Somalia.

Still Kenya’s politics surrounding our soldiers being in Somalia has even aggravated the situation further for KDF soldiers in Somalia.  The Jubilee government and politicians have so often used KDF to prove a political point to the opposition; yet the opposition has put the army at risk with careless utterances. I don’t even know why KDF top leaders allowed TV footage showing army operations in Boni forest.

President Uhuru Kenyatta himself has not helped matters. Other than his usual 'fellow Kenyans and Ndugu zanguni' on TV and Nyayo stadium, our president has performed dismally as the Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces at the face of  national calamity. He has often carried himself around with an attitude of a ‘I don't care’ father even during the most traumatizing moment for the country and the army.  When I thought the Garissa massacre would prick his soul to be with the country at a time of such debilitating terror attacks, I was wrong, just  a written speech and on he moved to Malindi where some journalists captured him laughing as if nothing happened.

 From West Gate, Garissa, to Somalia not even an impromptu reconnaissance to boost the morale of the army save for ceremonies where his selfies take the center stage. Even George Bush, Barrack Obama or secretary of state often carried impromptu visits to the American armies in Somalia or Afghanistan and Iraq even at the face of raging wars. It is a morale booster to the soldiers knowing that even their president is with them, what of Kenya?


Just to show how hopeless our situation was, the first person to speak to Kenyans about the attack in Somalia was the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, just to warn internet users of dire consequences should they share photos of dead soldiers. The bodies of the soldiers were still out in the field while Al-shabaab is sharing their photos, and you just wonder who Nkaissery should arrest. It is two days later that the CS for Defence Rachel Omamo addressed the nation, looking confused.

When al Qaeda’s Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) attacked a hotel in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou and a dozen people died, the president talked tough and within hours, the operation was over, the hotel was retaken from the militants and Prime minister Paul Kaba Thieba, dispatched to meet his Malian counterpart Modibo Keita on joint working relation against the growing threat of the Islamic militants in West Africa. They shared intelligence and conducted joint security patrols. Yet for us, we are always caught flat footed each time the terror group comes calling. It is after the attack that we conduct an uncoordinated rescue and retaliatory moves which can go for days on end; meanwhile from nowhere a hash tag is created to sooth our minds.  When this attack took place, I thought a high level security meeting would take place straightaway, thereafter a central command would be created from where sting operations to neutralize the enemy would be coordinated.

We seem not to have learnt from the West gate or Garissa attacks, it is distressing to listen to top officials urging Kenyans to be patient as they try to retrieve the bodies. More saddening is that there seems to be a lot of confusion as to what exactly is happening on the ground with some injured soldiers still in the bush and some having tried to call their commanders in vain. We still don’t even know exactly how many soldiers are missing 5 days on.

A wise man once said, you should not force your neighbour to eat when he insists his belly is full; the Somalia parliament is that neighbour. If you want to know why it may take Kenya a life time to defeat and fully neutralize al-shabaab, get the Hansard of the Somalia Parliament during the vote last year where Somali parliamentarians voted to have KDF pull out of Somalia. Kenya went to Somalia to stop the incursion into Kenya by the terror groups but the bigger picture of AMISOM is for a stable Somalia, but with that vote it is easy to see that KDF is operating in an enemy territory with sympathizers within the government of Somalia. There are allegations that the Friday attack may have been an inside job, for it is claimed that the militants seemed to know all the corners of the camp plus it’s curious that this attack came only two weeks after the soldiers were deployed. Does it sound similar to the Garissa university attack? Someone must have sold his soul out to Al-shabaab from within AMISOM, Somali government or our own intelligent quarters.

With such kind of gerrymandering and lack of preparedness each time we are faced with such a situation, Kenya can still afford to fail.