The sports category has moved to a new website.

What you need to know about Kenya's military ranks

In this comprehensive overview, we delve into the hierarchy of Kenya's military ranks.

The CDF, General Francis Ogolla (In glasses) [Image: KDF Twitter]

The Kenyan Defence Forces, like many other armed forces, adhere to a structured ranking system that defines the roles, responsibilities, and authority of each officer.

From the highest-ranking generals to the entry-level commissioned officers, this exploration provides insights into the distinctive roles and expectations associated with each rank, shedding light on the organization and functioning of Kenya's military establishment.


This is the highest echelon a soldier can reach in their military career, with only one officer occupying this prestigious position at any given time.

The General assumes the crucial role of Chief of the Defence Forces (CDF), overseeing the entire armed forces.

Promotions within this elite rank are determined by a combination of factors such as age, extensive experience, demonstrated merit, and academic qualifications, all in accordance with the guiding principles of the Tonje Law.


Within the military hierarchy, these distinguished officers hold a position of authority directly reporting to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Chief of the Defence Forces (CDF).

Frequently entrusted with roles such as Vice Chiefs of the Defence Forces or leadership of the National Defence College, these high-ranking individuals, often referred to as three-star generals, are entrusted with the command and oversight of an entire division of soldiers.

Major Generals, commonly recognized as two-star generals, hold pivotal roles in overseeing military planning and mission coordination.


Their responsibilities extend to the command of division-sized units, comprising approximately 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers.

In this capacity, they play a crucial role in shaping and executing military strategies with precision and effectiveness.

Brigadiers assume command over a brigade, which typically consists of several thousand soldiers.


Historically referred to as brigadier-generals, this rank represents the entry point into the realm of general officer positions, where their leadership and strategic acumen are instrumental in orchestrating the actions and coordination of a significant military force.

These officers are primarily responsible for managing the army's administrative requirements.

To attain this distinguished rank, officers must have completed specialized training at the Defense Staff College, equipping them with the expertise and knowledge necessary to effectively oversee the logistical and administrative aspects crucial to the smooth functioning of the military.


Lieutenant Colonels, often referred to as commanding officers, assume leadership roles over units comprising roughly 650 soldiers.

These officers commit to their positions for a minimum of two years, where their primary duty lies in ensuring the efficient and disciplined operation of their units.

Their leadership and management skills are instrumental in maintaining unit cohesion and readiness within the military structure.


Majors hold the crucial responsibility of overseeing sub-units, which can consist of up to 120 officers.

Their duties encompass the management of military equipment, soldier training, and operational tasks.

To be eligible for this rank, a soldier must have accrued a minimum of eight years of dedicated service, reflecting their experience and commitment to effectively leading and supporting their sub-unit within the armed forces.


Typically, these officers assume command of a company, which encompasses units ranging from 50 to 150 soldiers.

Additionally, they may serve as the second-in-command within a company, showcasing their versatility and leadership capabilities in either role within the military structure.

Lieutenants take charge of a platoon or troop, responsible for guiding and leading a group of military personnel typically numbering between 25 to 30 individuals.


In this role, they play a pivotal part in ensuring the cohesion, discipline, and effectiveness of their unit, vital for the successful execution of military operations.

This is the entry-level commissioned officer rank within the Kenya Defence Forces, responsible for commanding a platoon.

However, their scope of responsibilities is more limited compared to lieutenants, reflecting their position as junior officers in the military hierarchy.


Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: