In 2020, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) began training an elite first-of-its-kind group of marine commandos, a special unit with very special skills.

The unit is an addition to the list of small but highly trained forces whose numbers have drastically gone up since the start of Operation Linda Nchi, when Kenyan military entered Somalia nine years ago.

On January 5, 2020, three Americans were killed when al-Shabab attacked the Manda Bay military base in Kenya.

This among other attempts by the outlawed militia necessitated the formation of this new elite force specialized in neutralizing threats at sea.

The majority of Kenyan trade comes through Mombasa, and shutting down criminal activity is a priority for the country’s security forces.

Likened to Navy Seals, the highly-trained unit was formed to tackle global warfare at sea.

The rigorous training course covered operational aspects such as; Amphibious Operations, Land Warfare, Close Quarter Combat, as well as Combat Search and Rescue.

It is an intensive, condensed training course that concentrates on the skills and drills needed to counter any potential threat on Kenya’s shoreline.

During the first graduation of the elite group of individuals who made the cut, the commander, Major-General Jimson Mutai, said the ‘commandos’ vessel had set sail for a long voyage destined for greater heights” and that “there is no docking or looking back”.

Prior to the formation of the Marine Commandos, KDF had been undertaking special exercises at the Kenyan coast aimed at effectively neutralizing any threats at sea.

In May 2019, Royal Navy specialists and Marines flew in to help in training security forces in Kenya to combat a triple threat.

Specialists from 1 Assault Group Royal Marines’ Board and Search School and landing craftsmen from 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group traveled to Mombasa to deliver training and share expertise on how to fight piracy, illegal fishing, and drug trafficking.

The contingent made up of Royal Marines and Royal Navy ranks, were part of the Tri-Service British Peace Support Team, an organisation that aims to aid United Nations and African Union Peace Support Operations.

Sea-borne aggression along Kenya’s maritime zone by the al-Shabaab militia group has been highlighted as a major threat.

The Marine Commandos are expected to inject real-time asymmetric tactics and operations to tackle enemy actions.

They will augment the existing Kenya Navy-Special Forces and continue protecting Kenya’s’ maritime domain from external aggression.

To combat terrorism, the graduates have been equipped with the necessary skills and capabilities of conducting special, tactical, and amphibious operations as well as armed reconnaissance towards enhancing a secure and safe environment.

The Commandos will also assist in the creation of a serene environment in the Blue economy which is part of the national government’s big four agenda.