The US and Kenya signed a joint defense deal targeting regional peace and security during a ceremony in Nairobi.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Bare Duale signed the five-year plan for defense cooperation earlier this week.
“During our meeting today, I thanked him for hosting US forces at Manda Bay and for his commitment to our shared security. Signing the Framework for Defense Cooperation between our countries today reinforces the importance of our strategic partnership with Kenya,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III said in an address from Nairobi, Kenya on Monday, describing his meeting with Kenyan President William Ruto.
“We intend to work with the United States Congress to provide up to $100 million in support,” Mr Austin said, because “we’re grateful to Kenya for its leadership in tackling security challenges in the region and around the world. I also thanked the Secretary today for Kenya’s willingness to consider leading a Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti.”
The treaty underscores the US role in assisting Kenya with its fight against al-Shabaab, an armed Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda.
Mr Austin held a meeting with Mr Ruto to discuss various key topics. The primary focus was on the strong bilateral defence relationship between the United States and Kenya, with an emphasis on regional security and joint efforts to combat terrorism.
In addition to the meeting with President Ruto, Secretary Austin also met with Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Defence Aden Duale. Their discussions centred on mutual plans to advance shared bilateral security priorities and regional concerns, particularly Kenya’s leadership role in countering the extremist group al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Duale highlighted the importance of the agreement in quelling al-Shabaab’s attacks in the country.
“This cooperation will enable us to respond effectively to the ever-evolving security challenges in our region,” he said.
Al-Shabaab has launched high-profile attacks in Kenya since 2013. In 2019, the terrorist group was responsible for the murder of 21 people in Nairobi, one of which was a US citizen.
During the ceremony, Austin also thanked the Kenyan government for volunteering to help fight gang violence in Haiti.
In July, Kenya signaled its willingness to lead a multinational force to restore calm to the country, promising to deploy 1,000 peacekeepers.
The appeal was endorsed at the UN Security Council by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who said that they would supply financial and logistical assistance for the effort.
For several years, due to the fragile security situation in East Africa, the United States and Kenya routinely collaborate, such as in July last year where the US Special Operations Command – African Command partnered with members of the Kenyan Defence Force for a Joint Combined Exchange Training in Isiolo, Kenya.
“The US and Kenya remain united in their partnership to guard against threats from violent extremists undermining the stability of the region,” Africa Command said.
Meanwhile, the US is reviving its request to launch drone strikes from Kenya, as President Joe Biden hopes to strengthen US military presence in the Horn of Africa.
In 2020, Kenyan Government denied AFRICOM’s request to carry out armed drone attacks in some parts of Kenya.
The push for the US to carry out airstrikes in Kenya traces back to al-Shabab attack in January 2020 on a military base in Kenya that housed United States troops. The attack on the airfield at Manda Bay killed three Americans and caused millions of dollars in damage.