Outgoing Chief of the Defence Forces (CDF) General Robert Kibochi today officially handed over the office to his successor, General Francis Ogolla after 44 years of illustrious career in military service, three of which he served as the CDF. Gen Kibochi had also previously held key positions among them the Vice Chief of Defence Forces and Commander Kenya Army among others.
The colourful change of guard ceremony was held at the Ulinzi Sports Complex-Lang’ata (USC-L) under the customary military traditions and saw a change of guard parade mounted by the Kenya Defence Forces troops comprising of both old and new guard as a way of bidding farewell to the outgoing General and welcoming the incoming CDF respectively.
The ceremony also incorporated a symbolic hand over of the service Flag to the incoming CDF as well as the official signing of the change command certificate.
The outgoing general received a-17 gun salute as a sign of gratitude for the exemplary services he rendered to the military and the nation during his tenure.
“You have faithfully dedicated 44 years of your life, diligently serving the people of Kenya. A look into your illustrious career shows that Kenya heavily invested in you, by providing training opportunities, from when you were a young officer, through mid-level training leading up to the executive and strategic levels of education,” he said.
The CS noted that under the leadership of Gen Kibochi, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) emerged as a leader in various efforts and initiatives aimed at defeating terrorism and realizing peace in the region.
The CS highlighted some of the achievements made by General Kibochi as CDF, which included the enhancement of welfare for both serving and retired personnel together with their families, the establishment of wellness centres to address psychological and social wellbeing of KDF personnel and dependants and the gradual modernisation of the KDF in recent years.
He also congratulated General Ogolla on his appointment noting he has the requisite competency, training and leadership skills to take the military into greater heights within the East African region and the globe.
The outgoing CDF General Kibochi applauded the KDF fraternity for the support they gave him during his service and implored them to accord the same to the incoming CDF saying this is the surest way of realising the Service mission and vision.
Gen Kibochi honoured his wife Mrs. Tabitha Kibochi, who was the Chairperson Military Wives Association of Kenya (MWAK) for standing by him and taking care of the family during times that he was busy serving the country as well as initiating and establishing programs to improve the welfare of military family through MWAK.
“While I spent most of my time pondering military tactics, strategies and plans, you steered the family. Your presence and valuable support and encouragement made every day better for me and our children,” he said.
General Kibochi lauded the incoming CDF Ogolla for being part of his strategic team. He said the team ensured that KDF remained mission ready in responding to diverse operational and admistrative engagements.
He added that regionally and internationally, KDF continues to remain a key player in contributing to global and regional peace and stability through various assignments with the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), and the East Africa Community (EAC).
He said gallant soldiers significantly continue to degrade the terrorist group al-Shabaab and assist in restoring peace and stability in Somalia under the umbrella of ATMIS.
“We also continue to train and mentor the Somalia Security Forces (SSF) to enable them to take up responsibility of ensuring the stability of their nation as ATMIS exits Somalia by December 2024.”
He added that Kenyan troops have been involved in various multi-agency operations and training exercises internally, which have enhanced and ensured a collective and synergized approach to handling national security issues.
General Kibochi leaves behind a rich legacy which includes spearheading the modernisation and expansion of the three services, the revival of the Kenya Meat Commission, construction of Defence Force Regional Hospitals, and the rehabilitation of Uhuru Gardens into a state-of-the-art monument and museum among other notable accomplishments.
The incoming CDF Gen. Ogolla thanked President William Ruto, Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces of the Republic of Kenya, for bestowing trust onto him to lead the KDF noting that he is ready and committed to steer KDF to achieve the nation’s defence objectives.
General Ogolla paid tribute to his predecessor and thanked him for his mentorship, guidance and cooperation.
He implored the KDF fraternity to always be determined and committed in developing and embracing the modern security strategy to conform with the evolving national and global security threats.
He further noted that he will continue working closely with other security agencies within a broader multi- agency framework for the safety, security and stability of the country and its people for a sustainable economic development and prosperity.
After successful handing over ceremony at Ulinzi Sports Complex, the outgoing CDF paid a courtesy call to his successor at his office.Thereafter they planted a tree in commemoration of the solemn day.
In line with traditions, the outgoing CDF was then escorted out of the Ministry of Defence headquarters in a ceremonial vehicle pulled by senior military officers, ushering in the reign of Gen Francis Ogolla as the 11th Chief of the Kenya Defence Force.
The ceremony was attended by the Defence Principal Secretary Patrick Mariru, Vice Chief of Defence Forces (VCDF) Lieutenant General Jonah Mwangi, former CS Ambassador Rachael Omamo, Service Commanders, General Officers (both serving and retired) members of Departmental Committee on Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations, MoD Heads of Department, Senior Officers, Officers, Service Members and their families and other honorary guests.