Outgoing Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi hands over the KDF flag to his successor Gen Samson Mwathethe during the handover ceremony yesterday.
Kenya Defence Forces personnel will get a salary increment from July. This is according to Gen Julius Karangi, who retired as Chief of Defence Forces at a colourful ceremony yesterday.
Karangi also said, without going to specifics, the soldiers would get a comprehensive medical cover. “As I leave, I wish to tell you that things will be better from July 1. I hope you all know what I am saying because you have been waiting for it for the last four years,” he said amid applause from the personnel present.
Officials said the increment is procedural because the last time soldiers received an increment was in 2011. Karangi praised KDF personnel, saying they had served the country well and would continue helping the civilian police to maintain law and order.
“We are deploying more personnel from Lamu to Mandera to help police in maintaining law and order because that is part of our mandate,” he said. He made the remarks when he officially handed the supreme command of KDF to Gen Samson Mwathethe at the Department of Defence headquarters.
Karangi, who has served the military for 42 years, bid his colleagues goodbye amid praises from those present, including Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychel Omamo. Ms Omamo described Karangi as a humble man who was full of jokes and stories on all issues.
“If it is about the Constitution, he knows it well, if it is about politics, he understands the issues well. We could talk and laugh to the ground,” said Omamo. Other generals present said Karangi steered the force in the last four years as the CDF in a professional manner.
Gen Karangi was showered with gifts before being pulled out of DOD headquarters in a ceremonial Land Rover together with his successor. Among the gifts he was given were three cows, several portraits, two leather seats and a walking stick.
His family and friends were present during the ceremony, in which he first handed over the KDF flag to Mwathethe. He later introduced the staff to Mwathethe, took a group photograph and made a speech. In his speech, Karangi said he was happy because he was leaving behind a strong and dedicated team.
“We achieved a lot in Somalia by liberating most areas that were under the control of criminals. The officers there will continue to pacify the other remaining areas to ensure its stability for our security in the region at large,” said Karangi.
Later, Karangi had his last lunch with senior officers at the Officers’ mess, marking the end of his career at the military. The officers then lined up from the mess to the main Defence headquarters gate and towed him out of DoD in a ceremonial Land Rover.
He was left at the gate to board his personal car, and start life afresh as a civilian. Although it is not clear where Karangi will go next, sources indicate he might land a government appointment in changes to be announced soon.
During his tenure, Karangi won public praise for the successful military operation against the Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia under Operation Linda Nchi. Mwathethe, who had been the Vice Chief of the Defence Forces, was named new Chief of Defence Forces in changes announced last month by President Uhuru Kenyatta. He joined the Kenya Navy in April 1978. He was commissioned in 1980 as a Seaman Officer after attending Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.
His other professional and military training include International Sub-Lieutenants Course (UK), International Principal Warfare (IPWO) Course (UK), Missiles Course (ITALY) and the Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich, (UK).
According to the DOD, he also attended the Defence Resource Management Course in Monterey, USA, in 1998, and the National Defence College in Nairobi in 2000. Mwathethe is a former Kenya Navy Commander, Deputy Kenya Navy Commander, Kenya Navy logistics Commander, Base Commander Mtongwe and Fleet Commander.
His other appointments included Chief of Systems and Procurement, Department of Defence, Command of individual Kenya Navy Ships, SOII Operations at Navy Headquarters, 86 Squadron Commander, and SOI Co-ordination at the Department of Defence. He also served with the United Nations as a Military Observer in Kuwait/Iraq and Yugoslavia in 1991/92.
His decorations include Distinguished Conduct Order (DCO) and Moran of the Burning Spear (MBS).