Chief of the Defence Forces (CDF) General Robert Kibochi on Thursday made his maiden official visit outside Kenya, to visit India Armed Forces Headquarters and training institutions on invitation of his counterpart, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat.
General Kibochi, his spouse Mrs Tabitha Kibochi and a delegation of six accompanying officers from KDF were received, by Kenya’s High Commissioner to India, Ambassador Willy Bett and his spouse Mrs Faith Bett and the Defence Attaché to India Colonel Lazarus Wafula and his spouse Mrs Agnes Wafula.
The CDF made four office calls at the India Armed Forces Headquarters with General Bipin Rawal (CDS), Admiral Karambir Singh- Chief of Naval Staff, General M M Naravane -Chief of Army Staff and Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria – Chief of Air Staff.
He also received a brief update on the regional security situation in the South East of Asia. The briefing drew parallels to the India –Kenya shared access and responsibility to ensure security in the Indian ocean through information sharing to counter piracy and naco-terrorism.
General Kibochi was accorded an exclusive tour, briefings and demonstrations respectively at the National War Memorial the Rajputana Rifles Regiment in New Delhi, 50 Parachute Brigade in Agra, and the Military Headquarters of War (MHOW) in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
Kenya and India Defence Forces have a history of friendship that goes over many decades since independence. The two nations have exchanged training facilitators and students invariably. Kenya has recorded a presence of India Armed Forces Officers at the National Defence College, Karen. Kenya has also benefitted by having Officers and Service Members attend specific military courses from military institutions in India.
Kenya and India have considerably, enhanced partnership with adherence to the spirit and objectives of a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation, which entered into force in 2016.
To this end, during the visit, both the CDF and the CDS underscored their highest consideration and assurance to support staff exchanges, expertise, knowledge and practice sharing, training of young, junior and midlevel officers and service members, participation in combined training exercises, capacity and capability building.
The two leaders further agreed to establish partnership in the areas of maritime security, counter terrorism, naco terrorism, defence industry, research specialized medical trainings and collaboration in advanced training in cyber security, artficial intelligence and quantum technologies.
During the tour, the CDF was congratulated by the leadership for his appointment to CDF, “We take immense pride that the Kenyan Chief of Defence Forces is an alumnus of the Signal Officer’s Degree Engineering (SODE) Course. We are proud that he (CDF) is the first India trained officer to become the Chief of the Defence Forces of Kenya,” said, Lt Gen Vadlamani Srednivas, Commandant Army War College, MHOW.
At the Military College of Telecommunications Engineering, the College (MCTE) Commandant Lt Gen Milind Bhurke took pride in the visit by General Kibochi terming it a high level ‘home coming’.
At MCTE, his Alma-mater (1984-1987), the CDF and his spouse were taken to the house his family resided, as well as to the classrooms he sat in. During the walk around the CDF was allowed time to speak and Mentor young officers undertaking a similar course to the one he did 33 years ago.
The MCTE Commandant also pinned a tribute to the CDF on the wall of the College in honour of the CDF. The tribute in part reads;
“The officer pursued his SODE course with zeal and acquired excellence in communication engineering concepts and practical nuances; of field communication provisioning tasks, thereby he secured recognisable merit when he graduated from MCTE, Mhow. The Officer was popular amongst his peer group and a keen sportsman who could contribute to the sporting laurels of SODE – 53 Course through his skilled contribution in Football and Volley ball.
MCTE, MHoW very fondly and proudly recognises the achievement of the “Moran Warrior” Gen Robert Kariuki Kibochi and wishes him all the best in all his professional endeavours. “Lipitalo, Hupishwa” – ‘things don’t just happen by accident’. Thus it is the industry, intellect and integrity with focus which have led Gen Kibochi to the position where he belongs.”
Mrs Tabitha Kibochi also took time to learn and share with families and spouses of the India Armed Forces personnel with an aim to collaborate on matters military family welfare.
The CDF visit to India is at a time when bilateral relationships between India and Kenya are poised for deeper engagement.