Soldiers need degree for promotion

September 22, 2000

Officers in Kenya's armed forces face new rules that peg their promotion to possession of a degree in military science.

Daudi Tonje, chief of the general staff, expects the rules to improve the efficiency of the officer corps. They will be extended to the air force and the navy. The rules will be implemented in phases over ten years, starting from July next year.

The changes have not been well received by officers, many of whom must now register for higher education at Egerton University, which is offering courses in military studies.

Department of defence sources said officers without high school certificates would be encouraged to take early retirement.

Cadets, lieutenants, captains and majors will not be promoted to higher ranks unless they have passed at least certificate-level examinations in military science. Cadets will be promoted to the rank of lieutenant only after obtaining a certificate in military studies. Full lieutenants will need a diploma in military studies to be eligible for promotion to captain. Captains seeking promotion to the rank of major must have a degree in military science, while majors and lieutenant-colonels will need masters degrees to qualify for promotion.

Officers in professional ranks, such as doctors, lawyers, imams, engineers, teachers and priests, will be exempted from the changes but will be required to have professional qualifications in their areas of specialisation.

Kenya's armed forces have been under scrutiny amid accusations of ethnic favouritism by the government. Tribalism, nepotism and party affiliation are felt to have influenced promotions and plum postings.

Sources at the defence council said General Tonje, who is Sandhurst trained, asked to be given a free hand in ridding the armed forces of tribal influences before he accepted the appointment as chief of the general staff.

The defence council expects all ranks from lieutenant-colonel and above to have masters degrees in military studies within the next ten years.

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