US Secretary of State, December 02, 2016 - by Ambassador Godec Remarks - It is an honor to be here today at Laikipia Air Base as we celebrate the delivery of the first six of eight Bell Huey II helicopters to the Kenya Air Force.
First of all, I would like to recognize all of the members of the Kenyan Defence Forces present today for their service to their country and their leadership in the region. I would also like to recognize and thank the U.S. military members present for their service and support to our very strong defense relationship.
The United States values the initiative Kenya has taken to strengthen its capabilities in order to help build a more peaceful and secure Kenya and East Africa region. The KDF has made great sacrifices on front lines along the Kenya-Somalia border and as an integral part of AMISOM, as well as in other crucial regional peacekeeping operations. We are proud to be your committed partners in these efforts. As President Obama said during his visit to Kenya last year, “We’re going to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this fight against terrorism for as long as it takes.”
The Huey II helicopters that we are delivering today represent the United States’ largest single security cooperation initiative ever undertaken in sub-Saharan Africa. It is an initiative that was Kenyan-led, originating in the Kenya National Military Strategy and the White Paper on military cooperation with the United States, signed by General Jeremiah Kianga in June 2010. The vision outlined then – to strengthen Kenya’s military capabilities and increase security cooperation between our two nations – remains the same today.
These helicopters were specifically chosen for their exceptional capacity to operate in hot and high-elevation environments, while being rugged enough to endure extended operations with minimal maintenance. We are confident that these helicopters, in addition to the accompanying training and maintenance programs, will be a valuable addition to the KDF’s fleet. They will reinforce the KDF’s air assault capability to deploy Kenyan Rangers and other quick reaction forces. They will provide the KDF with the capacity to deliver much-needed supplies to the front-line and to help save the lives of troops with vital medical evacuations. And, ultimately, they will help the KDF to take a major step forward in the fight against terrorism.
Our military cooperation with Kenya is one of the deepest and most important security relationships for the United States in all of Africa. Our programs and efforts include everything from professional military training to joint exercises on disaster preparedness. Together we conduct public health research to identify and counter infectious disease threats. We work with local communities to combat extremist messaging of terrorist groups and strengthen the respect for human rights. And, of course, we work to build our mutual security and peace throughout the region so that both of our countries are safer and more secure.
Today we reaffirm that the United States is and will remain your steadfast partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism. We are pleased today to make this important contribution to Kenyan and regional security and look forward to the excellent work the KDF will do with these helicopters. The Hueys will bolster the KDF’s capacity to combat al-Shabaab, an effort that will bring about a more stable and peaceful East Africa. Thank you to everyone for joining me today as we mark another milestone in the long and strong partnership between the United States and Kenya in promoting safety and security in Kenya, Africa, and across the world.
Pamoja tusonge mbele. Asanteni sana.