US army criticises KDF action during Manda Bay attack

"The performance of the Kenyan security forces... frustrated American officials." - New York Times.

In Summary

• United States has deployed one of its top elite military units to guard its interests off the Kenyan Coast.

• The deployment was made after al-Shabaab militia killed the three Americans.

The Manda Bay Attack
The Manda Bay Attack

Americans have highly criticised the Kenya Defence Forces over the January 5 attack at Camp Simba in Manda Bay.

According to the New York Times, Kenyan soldiers hid in the grass during the attack that saw three Americans killed when al-Shabaab attacked the base. 

"Many of the local Kenyan forces, assigned to defend the base, hid in the grass while other American troops and support staff were corralled into tents, with little protection, to wait out the battle," NYT says in the article published on Wednesday.

The article is likely to draw criticism from the Kenyan audience and government due to the manner in which it paints the KDF soldiers.

International media has been criticised in the past for painting the African continent in bad light especially when covering Western interests in the continent.


One US service member and two contractors were killed during the al Shabaab attack.

In addition, the US Africa Command confirmed that two Department of Defence members were wounded in the attack.

The American newspaper further insinuates that the Americans believe that the terrorists may have been assisted by Kenyan workers at the camp.

"Investigators are looking at the possibility the attackers had help from Kenyan staff on the base. The performance of the Kenyan security forces during and after the battle frustrated American officials,"the article states.


It claimed that Kenyans announced they had captured six al Shabaab, but they all turned out to be "bystanders and were released."

According to the New York Times, on the morning of the attack, contractor pilots Dustin Harrison, 47, and Bruce Triplett, 64, were taxiing their Beechcraft King Air 350 on Manda Bay’s tarmac.

"They throttled down their engines, according to one person familiar with the attack. The two men reported that they saw animals darting across the runway," the article states.

It adds; "They were wrong. The animals were in fact Shabab fighters, who had infiltrated the base’s outer perimeter — a poorly defended fence line — before heading to the base’s airstrip."

The newspaper says that as the twin-propeller Beechcraft, loaded with sensors and video equipment for surveillance, began to taxi, the Shabab fighters fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the plane, killing Harrison and Triplett.

"With the plane on fire, a third contractor, badly burned in the rear of the aircraft, crawled out to safety," it states.

United States deployed one of its top elite military units to guard its interests off the Kenyan Coast immediately after the attack.

The deployment was made after al-Shabaab militia killed the three Americans.

On January 9, Senior US Africa Command officials visited partner forces and American troops stationed at Camp Simba and Manda Bay Airfield.

US Africa Commander Gen Stephen Townsend directed an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack by al-Shabaab of the airfield at Manda Bay.

"I want ground truth to assess the situation and hear from the troops to ensure they have what they need to accomplish their mission.," Townsend said on January 9.

On November 5, al-Shabaab released a 52-minute video narrated by al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Omar Abu Ubeyda calling for attacks against Americans wherever they are.

The terror group stated that the American public is a legitimate target, and echoing a number of other global jihadist themes observed in Usama Bin Laden historical videos.


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