• May 24, 2024
  • Last Update May 23, 2024 10:27 PM
  • Nairobi

New Sherrif in town: General Charles Kahariri’s biography

New Sherrif in town: General Charles Kahariri’s biography

By Peter Ochieng

This week, General Charles Kahariri become the second Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) in a year.

Kahariri and other generals were sworn at State House, Nairobi on Friday, in a ceremony presided over by President William Ruto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces.

It was the second ceremony Ruto was presiding over in a year, after installing the late Francis Ogolla as CDF a year ago. Kahariri takes over from Ogolla who died in a KDF helicopter crash, alongside 9 of his juniors last month.

Also sworn in were Lt-General John Omenda (Vice Chief of the Defence Forces), Major General Fatima Ahmed (Kenya Air Force Commander) and Major-General Paul Otieno (Kenya Navy Commander).

Here are the biographies of the new KDF leadership:

General Charles Kahariri – CDF  

Before his appointment as CDF, General Charles Muriu Kahariri was the Vice Chief of the Defence Forces of Kenya, from March 2023 until 2 May 2024.

Kahariri enrolled with the Kenya Defence Forces on 3 April 1987. He was assigned to the Kenya Navy. He graduated from basic training as a Second Lieutenant on 15 April 1988.

He has trained extensively both in Kenya and overseas. Some of the military courses that he attended include the International Midshipman Course in the United Kingdom, the Long Navigation Course in India and the Naval Command Course in the United States. He also holds a Diploma in Strategic and Security Studies from the United States Naval War College.

For over 30 years that he has been a member of the Kenyan military, he has held numerous leadership, command, and management positions. They include the Commanding Officer (CO) of Kenya Navy Ships Mamba, Madaraka, and Umoja and CO of Kenya Navy Base Manda.

He also served as the Maritime Component Commander for “Operation Linda Nchi” and as Task Force Commander for “Operation Sledge Hammer” during the strategic capture of Kismayo. For some period, he served as the Deputy Commander of the Kenyan Navy.

He transitioned from the navy to the Kenya National Defence College, where he served as Senior Directing Staff (Navy), then as Deputy Commandant (Military) and as Commandant. He also served as the “National Focal Person for the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and the Djibouti Code of Conduct.”

Kahariri is a married father with three children and one grandson.

John Omenda – Vice Chief of the Defence Forces

He began his military career when he enlisted in his first unit, the Kenya Air Force on May 23rd 1991. He was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant on the 14th of August in 1992.

Omenda is a graduate of the Defence Staff College of Kenya as well as the famous Royal College of Defence Studies in the UK. Additionally, he has a Diploma in Strategic Studies from the University of Nairobi, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies from Nazarene University.

That is in addition to a master in Arts on international Security and Strategy from King’s College, London. Prior to his most recent appointment, he was the Kenya Air Force Commander. He is married, and a father of four children.

Fatima Ahmed – Kenya Air Force Commander

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

According to the Ministry of Defence, 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.

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.

Major-General Paul Otieno – Kenya Navy Commander

Until his appointment as commander of the Kenya Navy, Major General Otieno was the managing director, the Kenya Shipyards Limited. Former president Uhuru Kenyatta appointed him on May 31, 2021.

He is now the new commander of Kenya Navy, succeeding Maj-Gen Thomas Ng’ang’a, who has been moved to the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration and Finance, at the National Defence University-Kenya.

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