US military officials have placed a spotlight on the Kenyan government and its security forces over the manner they handled the Al Shabab’s attack on a US military Airfield in Manda Bay, Lamu.
On Wednesday, the New York Times reported its sources in the US military and other agencies aware of the matter indicating that the Americans were concerned over the preparedness of Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) which offers them perimeter security at the Manda Bay Airfield.
The US Airfield in Manda Bay has largely been secure with a relaxed security system that allowed Al Shaba to scale the perimeter fence unnoticed.
Reports indicate that on the morning of January 5, two Americans working with a US military contractor were preparing to take off from the airfield when they noticed animals running across the runway. Unfortunately there were no animals but Al Shabab fighters who had managed to scale the perimeter which US officials described as “poorly defended”.
Dustin Harrison, 47, and Bruce Triplett, 64 were shortly after killed when the militia men propelled a grenade at the US military aircraft. A third contractor was badly injured but escaped.
The third American life was that of 23-year old Henry Mayfield Jr who was reported to have been on duty manning the air traffic.
American soldiers mainly provided technical support and training while most of the perimeter security was left to Kenyan military officers.
However, when Al Shabab struck, American military officials claimed KDF officers hid in the grass – delaying the rescue of the injured American soldiers.
The US military headquarters, popularly known as the Pentagon, is reported to have sent 100 soldiers to secure the base.
US officials were reported to have been frustrated by the Kenyan government’s coordination with an American lawmaker going on record to criticize the reliance on local forces to guard an American camp.
“Those forces are typically not as capable as U.S. forces, and are easier for terrorist groups to infiltrate,” Michael Waltz – a Congressman from Florida said.
The performance of the Kenyan security forces during and after the battle frustrated American officials. At one point, the Kenyans announced that they had captured six of the attackers, but they all turned out to be bystanders and were released.
One official contradicted Interior CS Fred Matiang’i who announced that local security forces had captured all the terrorists and neutralized them.
“At one point, the Kenyans announced that they had captured six of the attackers, but they all turned out to be bystanders and were released…five Shabab fighters were killed. Several others fled, most likely slipping back across the border into Somalia,” NYT said while quoting its source in the US Army.