The Kenyan Defence Force (KDF) was on Friday formally integrated into the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amison) in a move that up- scales the war against Islamist group Al-Shabaab to a continental level.
The Kenyan force will now be under the command of General Andrew Gutti, a Ugandan commander who was appointed last month to head the mission.
The event marking the transition between the Kenyan flag and the Amisom flag was held at the Department of Defence Headquarters in Nairobi on Friday.
Present to witness the occasion was Defence minister Yusuf Hajji, his assistant Joseph Nkaissery, Special representative of the Chairperson of the UN commission Ambassador Boubacer Gaoussou Diarra, Special representative of the UN to Somalia Augustine Mahiga, Somalia Ambassador to Kenya and Kenya's Chief of Defence Forces General Julius Karangi.
The integration is a reprieve to the Kenyan military in terms of finance and technical support.
Already the UN, which oversees the Amison Trust Fund, had appropriated $304 million (Ksh24 billion) to support Amisom in the fiscal year ending this June with the United States and European Union covering most of the cost.
The Kenyan force has been advancing towards the capture of the coastal town Kismayu, the hub of Al-Shabaab, after the capture of Afmadow last month.