KDF boss Robert Kibochi, US defense Chief Mark Milley meet at Pentagon

 Robert Kibochi

Kenya's Chief of Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

Growing concerns over possible spill over of increased Al-Shabaab activities in Somalia have culminated in a high level meeting between Kenya's Chief of Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi and the United States’ Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley at the Pentagon.

The high level engagement is part of the latest joint efforts by Kenya and the US to fight terrorism.

 The talks reaffirmed the two countries’ commitment to strengthening bilateral defence cooperation between America's Department of Defence and Kenya's Ministry of defence and the Kenya Defence Forces.

"The two leaders discussed matters of mutual interest notably, expanding counterterrorism cooperation. Kenya and the US share a bilateral defence relationship and will continue to work together in matters security to counter the threat of violent extremist organisations," a statement from KDF said.

Strong partnership

The talks also touched on cybersecurity, US Africa Command Mission, Climate change and future plans.

"Both the US Department of Defense and the Kenya Ministry of Defence and the Kenya Defence Forces intend to continue the strong partnership including the next iteration of the United States-Kenya Bilateral Defence Forum," America's Department of Defence Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Hoffman said in a statement.

Kenya has experienced a notable reduction in the frequency and number of terror attacks but America is warning that the militia is still "stable" and growing roots in Somalia.

"I would describe al-Shabaab as stable, it has really continued to put down roots in Somalia. They have, I would say, sustained attacks against the government of Somalia, against military forces in Somalia and against the civilian population," Rear Admiral Jamie Sands the commander of Special Operations at AFRICOM said in response to a question on the cause of the January multiple terror alerts by multiple foreign embassies in Nairobi.

The alerts were warning of a possible attack targeting foreigners visiting key installations, malls and other establishments in Nairobi.

Improvised explosive devices

He added, "They (al Shabaab) continue to function in some ways as a mafia-like organisation that taxes citizens unconstitutionally, right, without cause. They attempt to provide government services in lieu of government presence. And they have ceded much of the area in Somalia or large portions of the area with improvised explosive devices that kill indiscriminately in many cases."

On Tuesday this week, the militia group attacked a United Nations Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) base manned by Burundi peace keeping troops near Eel Baraf a village located about 160kilometers North East of Mogadishu and killed 10 soldiers on the spot.

The attack has since been condemned by the Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye, the United Nations and the Africa Union.

Last year, AFRICOM sought permission to launch drone strikes targeting Al-Shabaab militia from Kenya in self-defence and in protection of allied troops in Somalia.

Nation could not immediately verify if the request was part of the talks at Pentagon.


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