Major General Fatuma Ahmed: Kenya's first female Airforce Commander

Major General Fatuma Ahmed. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Major General Fatuma Gaiti Ahmed continues to reach for the ‘executive’ suite.   

She was on Thursday, May 2 appointed as the Commander of the Kenya Airforce, becoming the first woman to be at the helm of any service in the Armed Forces.

The Major General is a woman of many firsts. She first grabbed the headlines in August 2015 when she was promoted to Brigadier, a post no woman had held in the male-dominated Kenyan military.

When President William Ruto appointed her as the new Kenya Airforce Commander on Thursday, it was another first.

But who is Major Gen Ahmed?

We revisit her decorated career spanning more than three decades.

Maj Gen. Fatuma was in 2023 appointed Senior Directing Staff Air.

She is the first Kenyan woman soldier to attain the rank of a Major General after she was promoted from brigadier and appointed Assistant Chief of the Defence Forces in charge of personnel and logistics.

According to a Ministry of Defence publication, Maj Gen Ahmed was enlisted in the Kenya Defence Forces in 1983 and served under the Women Service Corps. She was commissioned to the rank of Second Lieutenant in 1985 and posted to the Kenya Air Force in 1999.

Further research on her shows that she joined the armed forces by “accident.” One day when returning home from school after completing her secondary school education in 1983, she happened to pass by a stadium near the military offices, which at the time was conducting a recruitment exercise.

Major General Fatuma would make inquiries about joining, and as fate would have it, she joined the military the next year as an officer cadet.

Some of the notable appointments in the course of her service include:

  • Battalion Second in Command (BN 2IC)
  • Staff Officer II Audit Personnel and Records
  • Staff Officer I Personnel and Administration
  • Colonel Personnel at the Kenya Air Force Headquarters and Managing Director, Defence Forces Medical Insurance Scheme.

Maj Gen Ahmed is a graduate of the National Defence College, one of the Military Centers of Excellence, an affiliate of the University of Nairobi's Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies.

She is also an alumnus of the Defence Staff College having graduated in July 2000. In addition, she holds a Diploma in Management from Strathmore University College.

During his tenure, former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2019 promoted her to the coveted rank of a Major General, from a brigadier.