Kenya Air Force Lt Col Rodah Mwasigwa has been appointed the Foreign Liaison Officer of the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, becoming the first female KDF officer to hold the position.
The task force originated under Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa as part of the US response to the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Her roles will include facilitating timely and accurate communication between the task force and KDF, assisting in the organisation of key leadership engagements, and facilitating expert exchanges and participation in exercises in East Africa.
She will also be the liaison between KDF headquarters and the task force on operations and training besides briefing joint force headquarters on activities within Kenya or the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom). She will also liaise with coalition partners and nations for a seamless flow of information.
With a mission covering 12 different countries throughout East Africa, the ability to work with various units and nations is key to the success of the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa.
To keep it running, several partner nations have lent a member of their military to serve as a foreign liaison officer and to work directly with the joint force personnel on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.
These personnel improve communication between the command and foreign militaries and strengthen the partnerships between African and other allied partners.
Prior to her new assignment, Mwasigwa was an officer in charge of welfare and compensation at Kenya Air Force headquarters.
She is upbeat that her time in the role will be unique because she is the first female KDF has picked for the job.
“In line with the KDF gender policy of 2017, which provided a comprehensive overall framework to guide gender mainstreaming, KDF has endeavored to give equal opportunities to all genders who meet the criteria,” said Mwasigwa in a recent interview with an in-house magazine.
According to the magazine, since her arrival at the joint task force, Mwasigwa has facilitated training for KDF personnel and coordinated multiple key leader engagements, including a ceremony in which US Army Maj Gen Michael Turello, commanding general of the force, presented six MD-530F helicopters to the KDF in late January.
However, an important test of her abilities happened shortly after her arrival to Camp Lemonnier, when a terrorist organisation attacked US and Kenyan facilities at Manda Bay, Kenya.
Under the direction of US Air Force Brig Gen James Kriesel, the combined force Acting Commanding General at the time, she played a key role in coordinating a unified response to the attack.
“During the Camp Simba attack on January 5, I was part of the joint operation command centre under Brig Gen Kriesel’s leadership and assisted in sharing information which was vital in supporting the counter-attack operation,” said Mwasigwa.
She added: “Working in such a high-operation command centre with US military, while handling such a sensitive operation, was a new experience to me. This was one of my most memorable experiences, and Brig Gen Kriesel’s leadership in the operation taught me several lessons I will carry throughout my career.”
Kriesel, who is currently the deputy director of operations for US Northern Command, recalled the events of that day, and noted how Mwasigwa’s actions contributed to a swift response.
“I saw Rodah’s expertise and insight relative to her capabilities to synchronise with the Kenyan military, and it helped me out as the acting commanding general at the time of the attack in my decision-making. It helped us respond quickly,” said Kriesel.
“Rodah, just like her predecessor, brings expertise that allows myself or anyone else the ability to go to her for questions specific to Kenya. She can then reach back and utilise her relationships to get answers critical to the force’s relationship with Kenya.”
Kriesel stressed the importance of Foreign Liaison Officers and their significance of being a force multiplier, using the South African word, ubuntu, which is translated to “I am because we are.”
Mwasigwa said the biggest challenge she faces is being unable to work due to restrictions imposed following the Covid-19 pandemic, which also prevent her from visiting her family.Do you sleep with the door open or closed?