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Kenya's first marine force ready for action after intensive training by British Commandos

9 May 2023
The first Kenyan Marines are ready for operations after completing world-class training laid on by the UK’s Royal Marines.

The newly-created Kenyan Marine Commando Unit will be an elite fighting force with the ability to conduct specialised amphibious operations to weaken and disrupt threats in the region, and take the fight to al-Shabaab.

A ten-strong specialist training team from Taunton-based 40 Commando put the KMCU – whose motto is ‘Quell the Storm’ – through 12 weeks of intensive training, like that faced by recruits at the Commando Training Centre in Devon.

Royal Marines designed a 500m assault course at Mtongwe Navy Base in Mombasa and shared their vast knowledge and experience, passing on valuable skills.

The training is not just about combat ability and physical prowess, though, the Kenyans have also been taught about the commando mind-set, values, ethos and language, which makes Royal Marines distinct from other forces.

Captain Toby Robinson, in charge of the 40 Commando training team in Kenya, said: “It’s been a fantastic experience working alongside our Kenyan partners and a privilege to be involved in this historical moment, with the establishment of their Marine Force.

“I was most impressed with their motivation while on course, which made them a pleasure to teach.

“Looking forward, the marines will soon be applying their new skills, providing security and stability along the Kenyan coastline and potentially wider Indian Ocean.

“After taking the first course through, I feel a close partnership with the Kenyan Marines and will be tracking their progress in the coming years.”

The 26 marines officially completed their basic training on 5 May and will go onto counter terrorist threats and protect Kenya’s peace and prosperity.

This first cohort have kick-started a self-sustaining training cycle, whereby the Kenyan Navy will eventually be able to train their own Marine Commandos.

Training ended with a final exercise that saw the marines carry out reconnaissance on an ‘enemy target’ after an amphibious landing, feeding information to commanders for an attack.

Their success during this mission proved they are now ready for front-line operations.

The United States have provided the Kenyan Marine Commando Unit with equipment, while the UK has been responsible for training them to the highest standards.

The creation of this capability is a significant milestone that underscores the strong and historic defence relationship between Kenya and the UK.

It demonstrates the UK’s commitment to supporting Kenya as an anchor of regional stability.

One of the new Kenyan Marines, a senior private named Peter, said: “The experience has been good. I never expected to interact with the UK military. It has challenged me, made me grow and makes me part of an elite force.”

Another, Nelson, said: “I’m looking forward to being part of the most elite force in Kenya. I’m very happy. It takes a lot to be a part of this. You have to be determined, willing to sacrifice and persevere because it’s not easy.”

Talking about working with the Royal Marines, he added: “Those guys are the best I’ve ever met and their training is about the basics, growing you to become the best you can be.”

Another, Eric, added: “It’s changed my mind-set, my physical fitness. We’ve learnt so much and we’ve also learnt some language, including saying ‘hoofing’ when something is excellent. We used to say route march but now we say ‘yomping’. I’ve loved being on the course.”

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