Sunday January 15, 2017
Captured KDF Soldier.
It is one year since Kenya endured one of its most bitter military catastrophes, when al-Shabaab militants overrun the Kenya Defence Forces camp in el-Adde in southern Somalia.
Twelve months on, it is unclear how many Kenyan lives were lost and exactly what operational failures were overlooked by commandeers in the setting up of the base in an area where local clan hostilities were already ranged against the Kenyans.
As news reports made clear in the immediate aftermath of the attack, the atrocity occurred in a region dominated by a clan that is a rival to the dominant Ogaden clan led in southern Somalia by Sheikh Ahmed Madobe, who at the time was Kenya’s principal ally in the region.
It was extremely unfortunate to lose dozens of young lives on foreign soil and more so as a direct consequence of the failures of commanders to plan properly and put up adequate defences.
But the approach that senior officers at the Kenya Defence Forces have taken as a response to the disaster one year on, their decision to cover-up exactly what happened and their instinct towards extreme secrecy have not helped matters.
Kenyans in general support the troops and appreciate their sacrifice towards making the country safe especially in the hostile zones in which they operate in Somalia.
However, there is no harm in embracing a policy of greater transparency.
The military is one of the truly national institutions in Kenya, drawing recruits from every county in the nation.
It is an institution that should be celebrated. But when setbacks such as the one that occured in El-Adde happen, the wiser thing is to acknowledge them and offer clarity, rather than cover up matters.
Blocking the truth from becoming known is certainly not a wise approach.