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President Ruto's female ADC makes her debut at KICC function

 President William Ruto at KICC on Thursday, 2nd March 2023. Standing on duty behind him is the second ADC, Lt. Col. Damaris Agnetta. [Twitter: @StateHouseKenya]

It has been four months since President William Ruto made changes in his security detail, changes that included the appointment of a female Aide-de-Camp (ADC).

In October 2022, President Ruto appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Damaris Agnetta as assistant ADC, to deputize Colonel Fabian Lengusuranga.

Lieutenant-Colonel Damaris Agnetta made her debut behind the Commander-in-Chief on Thursday, 2nd March 2023, at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), for the re-launch of the Women Enterprise Fund and the launch of the second product of the Hustler Fund.

The day was an all-women affair, perhaps the reason the President chose to be accompanied by the female ADC.

Lieutenant-Colonel Damaris Agnetta of the Kenya Army entered the history books as Kenya's second female Aide-de-Camp (ADC) after Colonel Rachel Nduta of the Kenya Air Force.

Agnetta's appointment was announced on Tuesday, October 4.

Agnetta's duties include assisting Colonel Fabian Lengusuranga of the Kenya Army, who succeeded Timothy Lekolool as President Ruto's Aide-de-Camp.

Agnetta will, occasionally, stand in for Lengusuranga when the first ADC will either be on leave or off-duty.

It is the second time the head of state is appearing in public with a female ADC, the first being on October 3rd 2022, with then Lt. Col. Rachel Nduta Kamui of the Kenya Air Force.

Agnetta took over from Lieutenant-Colonel Rachel Nduta of the Kenya Air Force, who was been promoted to the rank of Colonel, and deployed to the Department of Defence Headquarters.

 President William Ruto when he arrived at the KICC. On duty is the second ADC, Lt. Col. Damaris Agnetta. [Twitter: @StateHouseKenya]

Colonel Fabian Lengusuranga, the current ADC, joined the army in 1999. He has served as senior Special Forces branch commander.

The second ADC, Damaris Agnetta, was commissioned in 2003, and has been serving as the artillery officer. She has also served in the United Nations Military Observer Mission.

Being in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, Agnetta has five more ranks in the hierarchy to reach the summit of military leadership.

The five superior ranks are Colonel, Brigadier, Major-General, Lieutenant-General and General. In the military, there can only be one General at every given time, and the holder of the rank usually serves as the Commander of the Defence Forces. Kenya has never had a female General. The current General is Robert Kibochi.

President Kenyatta oversaw a historical moment on August 17, 2018, when he appointed Nduta as Kenya's first female Aide-De-Camp.

Rachel Nduta, a Lieutenant-Colonel at the time, was picked by the Head of State to serve as the Assistant Aide De Camp, deputising Timothy Lekolool.

That month Nduta was seen standing behind President Kenyatta.

"President Uhuru Kenyatta [is] at the Kenya Music Festival Winners' State Concert. On duty, is the new Assistant ADC Lieutenant-Colonel Rachel Nduta Kamui from the Kenya Air Force, who will be working alongside Lieutenant-Colonel Timothy Lekolool," The State House tweeted on August 17, 2018.

Colonel Fabian Lengusuranga's first assignment was on Tuesday, October 4, when he accompanied President William Ruto to Mathira, Nyeri County for the burial of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's elder brother Jack Reriani.

How an Aide-de-Camp is picked

A president has the liberty to choose his or her Aide-De-Camp.

The serviceperson has to be a member of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).

Contrary to popular belief, the Aide-de-Camp is not a bodyguard or personal assistant to the Head of State.

A source intimated that he Aide-De-Camp is "a principal military officer serving the president".

"The Aide-De-Camp's roles include managing the president's diary and liaising with his or her main security team," they said.

"The Defence Council can propose an Aide-de-Camp to the president, who has the last say on his preferred serviceman for the role," they added.

When foreign presidents visit Kenya, the KDF proposes servicepersons who would serve as Aides-De-Camp to the leaders.

The Kenyan Aides-De-Camp would work closely with the visiting Heads of State's military team.

Functions of Aide-De-Camp

"Aide-De-Camp" is a term borrowed from the French language.

Its literal meaning is "helper in the military camp".

The holder of the position serves as an aide to a VVIP, in most cases a Head of State or Monarch.

An ADC is a highly-trained senior military officer, who is required to be part of the president's itinerary at all times.

The holder of the position mostly performs ceremonial duties.

Besides the ceremonial tasks such as standing behind the president and opening car doors for the Head of State, an Aide-De-Camp in Kenya has other duties.

For instance, during Uhuru Kenyatta's tenure, Lekolool was the detail leader, assistant detail leader, tactical commander, motorcade lead, advance lead, mobile agent, static agent and protective intelligence agent.

Simiyu Werunga, the Executive Director for Geneva Centre for Africa Security, told The Standard that all Kenyan Aides-De-Camp held at least the rank of Colonel.

"Unlike the position of the Chief of Defence Forces, which rotates among senior military officers of the Kenya Navy, Kenya Air Force or the Kenya Army, the Aide De Camp's background is immaterial when the president is selecting the serviceman for that position," said Werunga.

"A new president can choose to retain the current ADC, or appoint a new one altogether."

Werunga further said that it's the responsibility of the Defence Council to propose ADCs to new presidents.

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