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UK to deploy more soldiers to Kenya

It is not yet known how Kenya benefits from this agreement.

Military vehicles drive during a simulated military excercise of the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) together with the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) at the ol-Daiga ranch, high on Kenyas Laikipia plateau on March 26, 2018.  AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images

Kenya has agreed to take part in the United Kingdom's (UK) programme referred to as ‘Future Soldier.’ More army personnel will be stationed in Kenya to bolster the ability to forecast crises.

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The UK has emphasized that the initiative will not only result in significant investments in personnel, infrastructure, emerging technologies, and cyber capabilities but also transform the British Army into a “globally engaged fighting force that benefits the entire Union”.

The program will prevent conflict by providing assurance to allies and partners while deterring adversaries. The UK Defense Ministry intends to invest an additional Sh1.2 trillion (8.6 billion pounds) in military equipment over the next 10 years.

This takes the overall investment to Sh6 trillion (41.3 billion pounds) during the same time period.

Future Soldier will also look to deliver a fully modernised warfighting division by 2030 –ensuring the Army is a central contributor to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) warfighting.

At the same time, much of the fighting force will operate under new self-sufficient Brigade Combat Teams (BCT). BCT is the basic deployable unit of maneuver.

A brigade combat team consists of one combat arms branch maneuver brigade, and its attached support and fire units. A brigade combat team is generally commanded by a colonel, but in rare instances it is commanded by a brigadier general.

The UK will aim for deployments to be longer than several weeks in Kenya, so personnel can learn more about an area as a result, as well as increased readiness and deterrence in response to adversaries.

BATUK crisis

The latest news comes at a time when the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) has been entangled in numerous scandals.

Earlier this month, the British Army was entangled in another scandal after equipment worth millions was stolen from its Nyati Barracks in Nanyuki.

The dust had barely settled on the explosive revelation of the BATUK's cover-up of the murder of Agnes Wanjiru nine years ago.

Coincidentally, the scandals started emerging just months after the British army opened its new Nyati Barracks in February this year in a grand event presided over by UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace and then former Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma.

The presence of the foreign soldiers in the bustling Nanyuki town has also attracted hawking of military gear, some believed to be sourced from the UK troops.

Daggers, boots and combat attire belonging to the British Army are usually sold on Nanyuki streets, raising questions over security of foreign military equipment.

For the past nine months, Batuk has been embroiled in a legal dispute with the Lolldaiga community in Laikipia.

In the matter, 1,496 community members, alongside an environmental lobby group -- the African Centre for Corrective and Preventive Action -- have sued Batuk after soldiers started a fire during training at the Lolldaiga Conservancy on March 25.

The fire destroyed more than 10,000 acres of land, causing damage to vegetation, animals and communities living near the ranch.

As a result, wildlife at the 49,000-acre conservancy escaped into peoples' farms, destroying crops.

The smoke from the fire contained dangerous chemicals that have caused adverse health effects such as serious eye-sight problems and miscarriages in both women and livestock, the petitioners say.

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