Sunday, March 19, 2017

Do we need an army?

The Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, in combat greens and dessert-camouflage boots, paid a visit to the Dhobley Military Camp in Somalia where Kenyan troops, serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia  are stationed. The visit reminded us that there are Kenyan fighting men and women in harms way in the still-unstable Somalia, part of a fighting force assembled to pacify the country and destroy a terrorist organisation, al Shabaab. It also reminded me of a question I have pursued in the past: should Kenya have a standing army?

Kwame Owino of the Institute of Economic Affairs asks a more simpler question: is it easier to give military training to twenty million Kenyans than paying for a standing army? The question is based on an idea I have explored elsewhere: every eligible Kenyan should undergo military compulsory military training in lieu of Kenya having an actual standing army. In times of need, these Kenyans can be called up to active military service. As to national defense, Kenya could do with a more engaged border security force as opposed to a billetted military that can't intervene in all minor border skirmishes such as the ones in Kenya's north east with al Shabaab fighters.

So, I ask you: do we need an army or can we make do with a border security force and the compulsory military training of eligible Kenyans who act as a military reserve to be called into duty in times of need?

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