Fatumah Ahmed on Tuesday made history when she became the first female brigadier in the Kenya Defence Forces, in promotions announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday.
The Kenya Air Force officer, who was promoted from colonel, was also named managing director of the Defence Forces Medical Insurance Scheme.
President Kenyatta also completed an overhaul of the country’s top military leadership when he named Major-General Levi Franklin Mghalu the commander of the Kenya Navy, replacing Maj-Gen Ngewa Mkala, who was appointed the commandant of the Defence Staff College.
Maj-Gen Mkala was previously in charge of the Mtongwe Navy Base. Even before the changes made yesterday, Brigadier Ahmed was still the highest ranking female officer in the defence forces and was until yesterday in charge of personnel at the Kenya Air Force headquarters.
She joined the military in 1983 and served in the Women Service Corps until the unit was integrated into the main military structure.
She was commissioned as a second Lieutenant in 1985 and posted to the Air Force.
CHANGE OF GUARD
Brigadier Ahmed, who is a graduate of the prestigious National Defence College and the Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies, has also served as a battalion second-in-command, in addition to other positions in administration. She also holds a diploma in management from Strathmore University.
With the changes announced yesterday, President Kenyatta completed a change of guard in all the formations, following the naming of a new Chief of the Kenya Defence Force and new commanders for the Kenya Air Force and Kenya Army.
In April, the President named General Samson Mwathethe to succeed General Julius Karangi as Chief of Defence Forces. He also appointed Lieutenant-General Joseph Kasaon as the Vice-Chief of Defence Forces and Lieutenant-General Leonard Ngondi as Kenya Army Commander, replacing Gen Kasaon.
Maj-Gen Joff Otieno retired as Air Force commander in 2014 and was replaced by Maj Gen Samuel Thuita.
The top ranks of the military are made up of the Chief of Defence Forces (a full General) as well as the Service Commanders of the Army (a Lieutenant General), Air Force (a Maj-Gen) and Navy (a Maj-Gen).
Ministry of Defence spokesman Bogita Ongeri said on announcing the changes: “President Kenyatta and Commander-In-Chief of the Defence Forces, on the advice of the Defence Council Chaired by Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo, made postings, promotions and appointments of the officers of the Kenya Defence Forces.”
In the latest changes, Maj-Gen George Owino was posted to the Kenya Military Academy as commandant.
Nine other Colonels were promoted to the rank of Brigadier and given new positions.
They are George Odhiambo Walwa (Chief of Operations at Defence headquarters), Henry Noah Ofulah (Kahawa Garrison Commander), Muta Nderitu (Director of International Peace Support Training Centre), Godfrey Aumah Buluma (Chief of Operations, Plans and Training at Army headquarters), James Magige Gitiba (Kenya Army chief of Logistics) and Simon Mureithi Wachira (Deputy Commandant of Defence Staff College).
Others are Vincent Naisho Loonena (Mtongwe Naval Base Commander), Martin Kizito Onyango Ong’oyi (Head of Personnel at Defence Headquarters) and Daniel Kimutai Pyaban (Rapid Deployment Capability Commander).
The KDF’s top four generals, unlike their colleagues who leave service after attaining the official retirement age, are supposed to exit after serving four years.
But they can continue to serve until they attain the retirement age provided they are moved on promotion to other stations other than that of service commanders.
For instance, Lt-Gen Joseph Kasaon was not retired together with Gen Karangi after he was moved from Army commander to Vice-Chief of the Defence Forces.
The same case now applies to Maj-Gen Mkala after he moved from Navy Commander to the Defence Staff College.
The rules introduced by then Chief of General Staff (the position has since been renamed Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces) Daudi Tonje require a Lt-Gen to serve a maximum of a four-year term or retire at the age of 58, whichever comes first.