President Uhuru Kenyatta has appointed Robert Kibochi Kariuki as the chief of defence following the retirement of General Samson Jefwa Mwathethe.
“I take this opportunity to thank you, Gen. Samson Jefwa Mwathethe, EGH, MBS, DCO, NDC (K), PSC’(uk), for the exemplary service you have rendered to our country, in your capacity as the Chief of Defence Forces.” He said in a statement he read at state house, Nairobi on Thursday evening.
Mr Robert Kibochi Kariuki will be deputised by Lt. Gen. Levi Mghalu as the Vice Chief of Defence Forces and Maj. Gen. Jimson Mutai will be the Commander of the Kenya Navy. The appointments followed the recommendation by the Defence Council. “The officers are expected to assume office under their new positions, on May 11, 2020.” The President said.
He went on to shower Mr Mwathethe with praises for what he termed as exemplary service:
“Since your appointment as the Chief of Defence Forces five years ago (May 2015), we have seen significant expansion in our military and enviable improvement in the defence capability of our forces; thus giving Kenyans confidence that their borders are well protected from any external aggression.
“During your tenure, we detected and expunge early enough a number of plans by those who do not mean well for our country, in good time.
“Let me also say that during your tenure, you proved that you are not just a military man, but a well rounded person, with the capacity to provide quality leadership in other initiatives of national importance.
“In this regard, I am proud to state that as chair, you steered very well the “Blue Economy Implementation Standing Committee”.
“The Committee has made substantive progress in re-establishing the Kenya National Shipping Line, as part of the Blue Economy Programme. Once fully completed and operational, this will, indeed, enable us, as a country, exploit the potential we have in the blue economy, and consequently create thousands of jobs for our young men and women. It is my hope that you and I will continue collaborate in this effort.” President Kenyatta said.
Before appointing Mr Kibochi to the position of defence forces, he promoted him and his three deputies. He promoted Robert Kibochi from Lt General to General; Levi Mghalu from Major General to Lt. General; and Brigadier Jimson Mutai to Major General.
Gen. R. N Kibochi was born in 1959 in Nyandarua County and was enlisted into the Kenya Defence Forces at age 20 on 18 May 1979 and underwent Officer Cadets Training until 30 March 1980 and commissioned in the rank of Second Lieutenant and posted to Signals Battalion.
He has held various command and staff appointments including his immediate former appointment as Commander of the Kenya Army, Assistant Chief of Defence Forces in charge of Operations, Plans, Doctrine and Training at Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Chief of Strategic Plans and Policy, Director International Peace Support Training Centre, Col Operations Requirements (CIS) and Commander Corps of Signals. Other appointments held include Chief of Staff at the Eastern Africa Standby Force, SO1 Records at Headquarter Kenya Army (HQ KA), SO1 Comms HQ KA, SO1 Mobilization DHQ, SO1 Comms CIS DHQ and SOII Operations and Training at the HQ of the Corps of Signals.
Lt Gen Kibochi earned Masters Degree of Arts in International Studies, Masters Degree in Computer Based Information Systems, Bachelors of Technology in Communication and Electronics Engineering, and is currently pursuing PhD degree in Peace and Conflict Management.
His other professional training include National Security Studies at the National Defence College (Kenya). Army Command and Staff Course (UK), Overseas Telecoms Engineering Course (UK), Signal Officers Degree Telecommunications Engineering Course (India), Sub Unit Commanders Course, Platoon Commanders Course, Regimental Signal Officers Course among other training courses.
He served with the United Nations as Commander of Kenyan Contingent in the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) from 2000 – 2001; while his decorations include Moran of the Order of the Golden Heart (MGH) and Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (CBS) among others. In 2016 he was moved three ranks up, outranking very senior career military superiors an indication that he was meant to replace Mwathethe.
Other promotions and changes in the Kenya Defence Forces include: