• April 23, 2024
  • Last Update April 23, 2024 10:40 PM
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List of Kenya’s Chief of Defense Forces since independence

List of Kenya’s Chief of Defense Forces since independence

By Patricia Mollyne Mataga

Since Kenya attained its independence in 1963, there have been 11 heads of the military.

Before the 2010 Constitution, the leader of the military was referred to as the Chief of the General Staff.

However, with the new constitutional dispensation, the name was changed to the Chief of the Defense Forces (CDF).

A CDF is the highest-ranking military officer in the Kenya Defence Forces and the principal military adviser to the President of Kenya and the National Security Council.

The holder of the prestigious position outranks all respective heads of each service branch and has operational command authority over the service branches.

He also leads the meetings and coordinates the efforts of the Service Commander, comprising the CDF, the Commander of the Kenya Army and Kenya Air Force, the Kenya Navy and the Commandant of Military Intelligence.

Kenya’s Past Chief of the General Staff      

Major General Robert Bernard Penfold

Robert Bernard Penfold was the first Chief of the General Staff of the KDF. He was appointed to the role in 1966 and served for over two years before exiting on May 31, 1969.

Penfold was from the Kenya Army branch.

Major General Joseph Musyimi Lele Ndolo

Just like his predecessor, Ndolo was also from the Kenya Arm. He took over the role in June 1969 and served until June 1971.

General Jackson Kimeu Mulinge

Also from the Kenya Army, Mulinge was the third Chief of the General Staff. He remains the longest-serving military head, having held the position for about 15 years – from June 1971 to 1986.

General Mohamud Haji Barrow Mohamed

He served in the position for about 10 years, from 1986 to 1996. Barrow Mohammed was the first military officer from the Kenya Airforce to be appointed KDF’s Chief of the General Staff.

General Daudi Rerimoi Chepkong’a Tonje

Daudi Tonje served as the KDF head from 1996 to November 30, 2020. He was from the Kenya Army.

General Joseph Raymond Edward Kibwana

From the Kenya Navy, Kibwana was appointed to the position on December 1, 2000, and served for slightly less than 5 years. He left the role on August 31, 2005.

General Jeremiah Mutinda Kianga

He was the last person to hold the Chief of the General Staff post before it was renamed.

Kianga, from the Kenya Navy, served from September 2005 to July 2011.

Chief of the Defence Forces under the 2010 constitution

With the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, the Chief of the General Staff was renamed the Chief of the Defence Forces.

So far, four individuals have held the position since it was renamed.

The positions, just like for the last few years have been alternating amongst the military branches – Kenya Navy, Kenya Airforce and the Kenya Army.

General Julius Waweru Karangi

He was the first to be appointed to the renamed CDF post. Karangi served in the role from July 2011 to May 2015. He was from the Kenya Air Force.

General Samson Jefwa Mwathethe

From the Kenya Navy, Mwathate succeeded Karangi to serve in the position for five years – from May 2015 to May 2020.

General Robert Kariuki Kibochi

Kibochi was from the Kenya Army branch. He served in the CDF position for about three years – from May 2020 to April 2023.

General Francis Omondi Ogolla

He is the current Chief of Defense Forces. Ogolla was previously the vice CDF.

President William Ruto appointed him to the position that he started serving in April 2023.

Holders of the military head positions have over the years served until their term comes to an end or upon attainment of retirement age.

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