Britain and Kenya sign deal to extend military training

Exercise Askari Thunder
British soldiers taking part in Exercise Askari Thunder in Kenya, are briefed on that day's training scenario (Picture: Crown copyright).

The Kenyan and British governments have today (Wednesday 9 December) signed a deal which will continue to allow British troops’  military training in Kenya for five more years, ending half a decade of protracted negotiations which tested their relations.

Currently, around 10,000 soldiers train in the country every year and for decades British soldiers have prepared for harsh hot-weather warfare on Kenya’s arid highlands, previously including troops on their way to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some Kenyan officials had claimed “former colonial master” Britain wanted its soldiers to have immunity whilst training in Kenya, but British officials deny this.

Soldiers rock climbing in Kenya
Soldiers taking part in rock climbing activities in Kenya (Picture: Crown copyright)

Under the agreement, soldiers who commit crimes when off duty will have to face Kenyan courts while British military tribunals will most likely deal with troops accused of crimes committed when on active duty.

Britain has also helped train and equip security services in Kenya, where militants from Somali Islamist group al Shabaab have killed hundreds of people over the past few years in gun and grenade attacks.

Kenya is seen by Western powers as a bulwark against the spread of radical Islam out of Somalia. Currently Kenyan troops are part of an African Union peacekeeping force battling Islamist terrorist group al Shabaab.

“The UK is Kenya’s longest-standing defence and security partner, and both our countries want to see the relationship continue and grow.” – Nic Hailey, British High Commissioner to Kenya.

Britain says its military training in Kenya was worth nearly 9 billion shillings (58.69 million pound) to the Kenyan economy, but both parliaments still have to ratify the agreement.