UK soldiers resume training in Nanyuki as new barracks opened

Defence CS Monica Juma

Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma (centre) when she inspected a machinery yard during the official opening of the new Nyati Barracks at the Batuk in Nanyuki, Laikipia County on January 26, 2021.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

British Army soldiers will resume training in Kenya following the opening on Tuesday of the newly-built Nyati Barracks at the British Army Training Unit Kenya (Batuk) in Nanyuki, Laikipia County.

The training unit based in Nanyuki had been recalled to the UK in March 2020 following the outbreak of Covid-19.

UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, and Kenya’s Defence Cabinet Secretary, Monica Juma, oversaw the opening of Nyati Barracks as part of advanced military relations between Kenya and the UK.

“We both have ambitions to make more of the Batuk with Kenyan and British soldiers training alongside each other as partners. We want to develop the facility to something beyond just training and use it as a demonstration of our deepening partnership,” Mr Wallace said.

Covid-19 evacuation

An escalation of Covid-19 infections last year saw the UK evacuate all its troops and their families from Nanyuki in a bid to protect them from the deadly virus.

After close to a year since their withdrawal, the British troops have started deploying to the newly-built barracks adjacent to Kenya’s Laikipia Airbase.

The British troops are expected to continue arriving into the country over the next few weeks where they will undergo a 15-day acclimatisation and quarantine period before embarking on training exercises.

Every year, about 10,000 British troops train in Kenya, but due to the Covid 19 pandemic, 4,500 troops were trained last year.

The hot weather and rough terrain in Kenya is considered ideal for the British Army troops to improve their skills while training in Laikipia.

Military collaboration

This comes as UK continues to strengthen military collaboration with Kenya in a series of security deals signed over the last year.

The partnerships will see the two countries train together in a symbiotic relationship that draws Britain’s combat experience in Afghanistan and Kenya’s engagement in Somalia.

“The troops from both countries learn from each other. As a matter of fact, we have a lot of experience in Somalia so it is a mutual engagement,” CS Juma said.

Besides combat training, Nyati Barracks is expected to further boost the economy of Nanyuki through direct employment and trade.

Batuk offers direct employment to about 576 locals and also offers casual jobs for up to 1,000 locals at given times.

Notably, Batuk continued to offer employment to local staff even after the withdrawal of troops back to the UK last year.