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KDF ranks: From senior-most position to the lowest

By Brian Okoth | July 24th 2021


President Uhuru Kenyatta promoted Maj. Gen Francis Ogolla to the rank of Lieutenant-General and appointed him VCDF. [PSCU]

There are ten ranks in the Kenya Defence Forces.

Members of the Defence Forces are guided by unmatchable discipline and respect depending on the rank of an officer.

KDF comprises of three sister services, namely Kenya Army, Kenya Air Force and Kenya Navy. The three are under Service Commanders who oversee their operations.

Regardless of one’s service affliction, promotion is strictly based on merit. It applies both for commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

Below is a list of the military ranks from the senior-most posting to the junior rank, courtesy of the Ministry of Defence:


It is the highest rank in Kenya Military. Only one person can hold the position at a time. The promotion in the Forces are based on: education of an officer from Defence College, years served in Military discipline and respect, depending on ranks of an officer.

Lieutenant- General

It is the second-highest rank in the military. The Lieutenant-Generals are, at times, called the Three-Star generals. Those with the post can be Vice Chief of Defence Forces, Service Commander in the services or those in charge of the National Defence College.


They are in charge of promotions in the military, and at times are called Two-Star generals. Some can be promoted as Service Commanders.


To become a Brigadier, one must have served for at least 12 years and shown excellence in service. They are in charge of brigades and battalions.


They serve as staff in KDF. One must have been trained in Defence Staff College to qualify for promotion to the rank of Colonel.


These are officers who can be in charge of up to 600 troops.


Officers holding the rank must have served up to eight years. They are usually involved in decision-making process.


Those in this category, must have served up to six years. They are usually in charge of up to 50 officers.


Officers holding this rank must have served for 3 to 5 years.


The position is held by an officer after two years of graduation from the Kenya Military Academy (KMA).
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