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Scathing reports find military failures in 2020 Manda Bay airbase attack

A vague intelligence report prior to the deadly attack referred to al-Shabab planning to attack United Nations aircraft.

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Manda Bay attack

Military investigations have found poor leadership, inadequate training and a “culture of complacency” among U.S. forces undermined efforts to fend off a 2020 attack by militants in Kenya that killed three Americans.

Two military reviews of the attack by al-Shabab militants are scathing in their conclusions that there were failures across the board at the Manda Bay airbase, where senior military leaders said there was a “deeply rooted culture of a false sense of security.” The attack also wounded three people and destroyed six aircraft.

Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of U.S. Africa Command, which did the first review, told the AP that while the actions of no one person caused the attack or the casualties, the reviews concluded that security, intelligence, training and command failures contributed to the losses.

And Air Force Maj. Gen. Tom Wilcox, who was part of the team that did the second review, said that “none of the negligence that we found contributed to the primary cause of the loss of life or damage. However, we did find that they potentially contributed to the outcome, to vulnerabilities on the airfield.”

Defence officials said that a number of Air Force personnel were reviewed for possible disciplinary action and, as a result, eight have received some form of administrative punishment, including written reprimands and loss of certification. The eight range from junior enlisted airmen to officers below the general ranks. A written reprimand can be career-ending for an officer. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe personnel discipline.

The Manda Bay base, in the Kenyan seaside resort, was overrun by 30 to 40 of the al-Qaida-linked insurgents on Jan. 5, 2020, marking al-Shabab’s first attack against U.S. forces in the East African country. The pre-dawn assault triggered a lengthy firefight and day-long struggle for U.S. and Kenyan forces to search and secure the base.

The initial investigation into the attack was completed a year ago by U.S. Africa Command, but last April Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a new, independent review led by Gen. Paul Funk, commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command.

The new report largely mirrors the findings in the initial probe but expands its scope. Both are sharply critical of the inadequate security, training and oversight at the base. Austin has accepted the reports and their findings.

The base at Manda Bay has been used for years by the U.S. military, but it only became a full-time airfield in 2016, with increased personnel, aircraft and operations. According to the reviews, the military there never adjusted security to account for the expanded use and was lulled by the fact the base hadn’t been attacked in 16 years.

The complacency, said the AFRICOM review, permeated every echelon and existed for several years.

The reviews criticized leadership at all levels, from the Air Force wing and security forces to special operations commanders and U.S. Africa Command. They found there was an inadequate understanding of and focus on the threats in the region.

Townsend said a vague intelligence report prior to the deadly attack referred to al-Shabab planning to attack United Nations aircraft. But that report didn’t get to the right people due to staff shortages, And, he said, those who saw it “didn’t connect the dots” — that it could be referring to the unmarked contract aircraft the U.S. has at Manda Bay.

He also noted, “We get these every day — al-Shabab is going to attack. Most of them never happen.”

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National

Atheists fault petition seeking to deregister society

Atheists in Kenya have protested a petition that they say seeks to create a notion that Kenya is a nation by and for believers in God only.

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President of the Atheists in Kenya Society, Harrison Mumia

Atheists in Kenya have protested a petition that they say seeks to create a notion that Kenya is a nation by and for believers in God only.

Former Juja MP, Dr Stephen Ndichu has moved to court seeking to have the Atheists in Kenya Society suspended on grounds that its continued existence is unconstitutional.

In a statement, the society’s president, Harrison Mumia says the petition is an assault on religious freedom and an insult to the diversity of the Kenyan people.

“We find the petition repugnant to a good conscience,” he stated adding that Dr Ndichu is a Christian fundamentalist who seems to harbour paranoid fantasies about the dangers of atheists existing in Kenya.

He further accused Dr Ndichu of seeing enemies where there is none and that the society was surprised, but not shocked as religion has historically inhibited progress.

He vowed that the society would do everything within its power to defend its right to remain a registered society and urged Kenyans to support fighting the petition.

On Sunday, the society said it will be writing to President William Ruto seeking an invitation to State House, just like the evangelical denominations.

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Uhuru Gardens ready for Madaraka Day fete, says PS Kibicho

The principal secretary said they would be visiting the gardens every Thursday until June 1 to ensure all loose ends are tied up properly, promising that the celebrations will be very colourful.

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Madaraka Day

This year’s national Madaraka Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi County will be open to 30,000 people, up from 10,000 in 2021.

Permanent Secretary in the State Department for Interior, Dr Karanja Kibicho, said this follows the relaxation of COVID-19 containment measures.

“Children will also be allowed in on the celebrations this year, and we expect county celebrations to happen too,” the PS said while on an inspection tour of the venue.

The PS said the government decided to move the celebrations from the County rotational back to Nairobi because it will be the last event for the current administration before it exits office.

“Because of the significance of this particular Madaraka day, being the last for this regime, we decided to celebrate it at Uhuru Gardens to break the tradition of celebrating it in counties,”

He revealed that preparations were currently at 90 percent complete and expressed confidence that all will be set for the event as the country marks 59 years of self rule.

The principal secretary said they would be visiting the gardens every Thursday until June 1 to ensure all loose ends are tied up properly, promising that the celebrations will be very colourful.

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Queen Elizabeth mourns Kibaki as a great Statesman with commendable legacy

Kibaki will be buried at his home in Othaya, Nyeri County on Saturday.

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Queen Elizabeth II has mourned former President the late Mwai Kibaki eulogizing him as “a great statesman”.

“I was sorry to receive the news of the death of Mwai Kibaki. He had a lifelong record of service to the Kenyan people. It will be of deep sadness to your country to have lost a great statesman, but Kenya can take pride in the legacy of his leadership. I send you and the people of Kenya my condolences at this loss,” the message read.

The British High Commission further affirmed its close ties to Kenya and renewed its assurances to the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The British High Commission avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya the assurances of its highest consideration,” the High Commission said.

The late Kibaki passed away on 21 April 2022, aged 90.

President Uhuru, who issued a proclamation that he would be granted a state funeral with full civilian and military honours, announced his death.

Kibaki will be buried at his home in Othaya, Nyeri County on Saturday.

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