Kenya’s female forces aid Somali security under ATMIS mission

Female members of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and National Police Service are actively involved in Somalia, primarily under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

Their mission includes combating Al-Shabaab, supporting local security forces, and promoting stability and economic independence through various initiatives.

For over 11 years, these dedicated women have been stationed in Somalia, with their deployment to conclude in December 2024.

They operate in roles such as combat support, aerial surveillance, intelligence gathering, and community engagement.

Major Daina Naker, a KDF combat helicopter pilot, conducts vital surveillance missions using specialised aircraft to aid ground operations. She reflects on her upbringing in Kenya’s Turkana County and her commitment to promoting peace.

“My main work is to support our ground troops through aerial reconnaissance and also conducting casualty evacuation. Due to my training and the place we are operating, it is expected that we fly at any time, look out for the enemy, support our troops as well as the local community,” she says.

Sergeant Faith Mwai handles communications and documentation at the KDF Intelligence Wing in Dhobley, documenting military activities and civil-military operations.

“On my right hand, I shoot to protect myself and fellow soldiers and Somalia at large, and on the other, I shoot what I see. When soldiers are out there, conducting our civil military operations, my main role is to enhance the visibility of these operations,” she says.

Corporal Maureen Njoki operates heavy construction machinery to maintain roads for troop movements, ensuring accessibility in challenging environments.

“My main work here in Somalia is to support the troops by smoothening their path, literally. I do this by clearing bushes, flattening uneven roads. I am grateful to my supervisors who have encouraged me to learn how to use these big machines,” Njoki says.

Lieutenant Stella Waigwa coordinates defensive strategies against potential attacks on their base, enhancing security and mobility for troops stationed at Dhobley.

“Today, we have a demonstration on how to counter a VBIED and show the soldiers how they will react to counter the same. I support troops in the FOB by ensuring that obstacles put in place are effective, countering any mobility and ensuring our own mobility,” she says.

Captain Valary Shikuku empowers local women in Dhobley through economic initiatives, aiming to alleviate poverty and promote stability.

“We engage them with technical activities and help them have a sense of independence and fend for themselves. Empowering a woman is empowering a society. Having a stable economy is very important in promoting peace,” Captain Shikuku says.

In Mogadishu, Dorcas Andabwa, a Kenyan police officer, drives an armoured vehicle during patrols, contributing to security efforts in the volatile city.

“From the training, I gained confidence. Driving these big armoured vehicles ensures we are safe, in case of a landmine or anything, this car cannot go down,” she discloses.

Overall, these women strive to contribute to lasting peace and security in Somalia, leaving a positive impact on local communities and empowering women through their diverse roles in the mission.

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