Premium

Military top shots likely to succeed CDF Ogolla

Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Francis Ogolla during a past event. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

A month before Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Francis Ogolla’s death on Thursday, President William Ruto had initiated a reshuffle within the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).

The changes pointed to a strategy by the President to line up his preferred army man to be the next CDF.

Ogolla was due to retire later this year, unless Ruto renewed his term for a period not exceeding one year.

According to Daudi Tonje’s succession rules in the military, since Ogolla was from the Kenya Air Force, his replacement was to come from the Kenya Navy. Ogolla’s predecessor General Robert Kibochi was from the Army.

However, according to a military source, since the Air Force’s tenure at the helm of the military was not yet over, Ogolla’s replacement will be in an acting capacity.

Chief of Defence Forces is the highest rank in the military and it automatically makes one a four-star general.

The army can only have one four-star general.

For one to become the CDF, they need to have served in the next rank of lieutenant general, which makes one a three-star general.

Deputy CDF is normally a lieutenant general, just like the Kenya Army commander.

Some major generals are two-star generals, like the commanders of Kenya Air Force and Kenya Navy.

For them to be promoted to the next rank, their service commanders need to be promoted to lieutenant general.

In the changes made by Ruto on March 9, 2024, Major General Charles Muriu Kahariri, now Lieutenant General, was appointed as the Vice Chief of Defence Forces (VCDF).

He replaced Lieutenant General Jonah Maina Mwangi who exited the service after 42 years.

The head of state also promoted Major General David Kimaiyo Tarus to the rank of lieutenant general and appointed him the commander of the Kenya Army.

He replaced Lieutenant General Peter Mbogo Njiru, who retired after serving for 39 years.

Ogolla’s replacement

Major General Jimson Longiro Mutai who was the Navy’s commander was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and appointed Vice-Chancellor of the National Defence University.

He was being touted to be Ogolla’s replacement but that could not happen until he served as lieutenant general, even if it was for a day.

Mutai replaced Lieutenant General Albert Kendagor at the Defence University after the latter was appointed to lead Kenya’s mission in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Kendagor would have been the next in line to replace Ogolla but his move to Tel Aviv leaves Mutai in the pole position to be the next CDF.

President Ruto promoted Brigadier Thomas Njoroge Ng’ang’a to the rank of major general and appointed him the Kenya Navy Commander.

Ruto also reassigned seven senior officers within the KDF, following recommendations from the Kenya Defence Council.

Lieutenant General Juma Shee Mwinyikai was appointed Commandant of the National Defence College, Major General Mohammed Nur Hassan (Deputy Army Commander at the Kenya Army headquarters) and Major General Aphaxard Muthuri Kiugu (Commandant of the Kenya Military Academy).

Others are Major General John Maison Nkoimo (General Officer Commanding the Border Security Command), Brigadier Peter Shikuku Chelimo (Deputy Navy Commander at the Kenya Navy headquarters) and Brigadier Yahya Abdi (Senior Directing Staff for the Kenya Navy) stationed at the National Defence College.

Going by that norm, General John Mugaravai Omenda and General Tarus are the likely deputies to Vice Chief of Defence Forces Kahariri.

Their promotions can however be fast-tracked meaning General Tarus can be Vice Chief of Defence Forces (VCDF) and then Chief of Defence Forces.

Major General Omenda is the current Kenya Air Force commander.

President Ruto convened a meeting of senior security officials at State House, Nairobi yesterday.

The National Security Council comprises Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale, Interior CS Kindiki Kithure, Foreign Affairs CS Musalia Mudavadi and Attorney General Justin Muturi.

Others are Police IG Japhet Koome, National Intelligence Boss Noordin Haji and Chief of Defence Forces.

Duale also chaired a Defence Council meeting that also included Defence Principal Secretary Patrick Mariru.

Others who sit in the council are Army, Air Force and Navy commanders. The Vice Chief of Defence Forces is not allowed to attend the meeting.

The council meets twice a year, in March and September, to deliberate and make recommendations to the President on who to appoint to senior roles in the military. 

By Ben Ahenda 4 hrs ago
Boxing
Kenyan boxers confident ahead of qualifiers
By AFP 12 hrs ago
Football
Pochettino leaves Chelsea after just one season in charge
By AFP 14 hrs ago
Football
Ronaldo poised for Euro record as Portugal name squad
By AFP 1 day ago
Football
Five reasons why Man City won the Premier League