Killing, parading of KDF soldiers' bodies in Kismayo was lowest moment - Brigadier

KDF was up to the task and determined to secure the motherland

In Summary

• The militia had the numerical strength, but the Kenya Defence Forces fighters were well prepared - they had trained hard and were well prepared.

• Retired Brig Ngere's crowning moment was when he commanded KDF troops under Operation Linda Nchi.

The battle for Kismayo was a difficult one as the al Shabaab controlled most towns in southern Somalia.

But the KDF was up to the task and determined to secure the motherland,  according to retired Brigadier Antony Mukundi Ngere in the book, The Soldiers' Legacy.


The militia had the numerical strength, but the Kenya Defence Forces fighters were well prepared - they had trained hard and were well prepared. 


Ngere, who was the commander of AMISOM’s Sector 2, says: “The best form of training is practical training in field conditions because it gives troops a near-real feel of battlefield demands. The best training principle is to train hard and fight easy.” 

According to him, our troops in the Somalia battlefields should always bear in mind the principle of "Sweating more in peacetime so that they bleed less during the battle".

Ngere was born in 1958. He joined the Kenya Army as a cadet after his secondary school education in 1977.

He was commissioned a year later following foundational training at the then Armed Forces Training College.

His interest in the armed forces was a result of close interaction with uniformed personnel at a tender age.

Ngere was initially assigned to 7KR in Northern Kenya. Their mandate was to secure the Kenyan border during the 1977-78 Ogaden War between Ethiopia and Somalia.


The retired officer was part of the team that later became the 9KR in 1979 and 15 KR in 1990. He was the commanding officer when the unit received its regimental colours.


Part of his 37-year military career was in UN peace-building missions in Namibia and South Sudan.

According to military sources, Ngere held a raft of training, staff and command appointments including being a sector commander under Amisom.

Unlike his previous assignments where he would mostly handle challenges related to providing aid to civil authority in the maintenance of order in the North Rift and North Eastern regions, the retired officer's crowning moment was when he commanded KDF troops under Operation Linda Nchi.

Ngere recalls in The Soldiers' Legacy that the KDF was at the time transitioning to Amisom and the tempo in the fight against al-Shabaab was intensive.

“The outcome of the engagement in the war did not disappoint. Transition to Amisom came at a critical phase of the efforts to degrade al-Shabaab’s threat to regional security.” 


There was public participation before the capture of Kismayu port. Expectations were very high, he states.

The advance team arrived from Afmadhow to Kismayu on August 31, 2012. The force consisted of battle formations.

A third battle group was tasked with approaching Kismayu through Lacta belt from Hoosingo via Bula Haji.

Ngere's plan to move troops in two fronts, with the southern approach scheduled to commence later.

“Our first test came at Miido, approximately 25km south of Afmadhow. At that point, a determined al-Shabaab had deployed a well-prepared blocking position using a combination of fighters and multiple layers of obstacles consisting of improvised explosive devices,” he recalls.

Going past that point proved challenging for the next few days. "The killing of two KDF soldiers and the subsequent parading of their bodies in Kismayu town by the al-Shabaab was one of my lowest moments,” the retired brigadier says.

On realising that the real test lay ahead, Ngere and his subordinate commanders worked overtime to motivate the troops after the Miido incident.

“We eventually, after a sustained offensive, made a breakthrough thereby facilitating the resumption of movement towards Kismayu.” 

The operational challenges did not end there. The militia had established yet another major delay at Harbole but it was defeated with resounding success, resulting in the capture of a cache of weapons.

KDF in defensive positions
KDF in defensive positions

“However, further south at Janaa Cabdalla, the enemy put a spirited resistance. As their defence crumbled, the retreating al-Shabaab destroyed the pumping equipment of the only borehole in the town.” 

This, Ngere says, presented a serious sustenance and health challenge both for locals and the KDF troops. It necessitated an emergency delivery of a repair kit all the way from Nairobi.

“Time was of the essence and an experience similar to that at Miido would have negatively impacted on the set operational timelines. In the circumstances, a complementary strategy entailing amphibious landing on the shores of Kismayu was mooted.” 

This was to be conducted by the battle group that was previously assigned to the Hoosingo–Bula Haji route.

“The operation was codenamed ‘Operation Sledge Hammer’ and involved intensive joint planning and training troops from the Army, Air Force and Navy,” Ngere recalls.

Great thought was put into the process, leading to a successful operation.

“The painstaking synchronised attack by ground troops, the amphibious task force and airpower which resulted in the capture of Kismayu on 28th September 2012 was a major achievement in the fight against the enemy,” according to the retired brigadier.

Thereafter the stabilisation of Kismayu culminated in the reopening of the international airport and the restoration of government services that had been lacking for many years.

“I look back with pride at the amount of transformation that has taken place in Kismayu and Somalia at large since 2012. Apart from my personal lessons that I learnt, I advise the soldiers to uphold their faith in God and the cause for which they fight,” the book quotes Ngere.

According to him, the KDF fighters should only keep that belief in themselves and the equipment they have at their disposal.

“Always remember teamwork is key and to your commanders, I encourage them to always be calm even in adversity,” the retired brigadier advises.


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