U.S. Counterterrorism Aid to Kenya

U.S. Counterterrorism Aid to Kenya: Focusing on a Military with Motivation and Corruption Problems

Introduction

The rising level of terrorist violence in Kenya will be high on the agenda of President Obama’s scheduled trip to Kenya this weekend. Despite more than $141 million in U.S. counterterrorism aid allocated to Kenya from FY 2010 to FY 2014, the Global Terrorism Database shows that there has been a rapid rise in the number of terrorist incidents in the East Africa country, moving from 11 in 2010 to 115 in 2014. In response, Secretary of State John Kerry announced in May that the United States will provide $100 million in counterterrorism assistance this year to Kenya, which is an estimated 163 percent increase in such aid over FY 2014 ($38 million) (See Figure 1). 

Source: Security Assistance Monitor analysis of official U.S. government documents and reports on U.S. military and police aid to Kenya.
Notes: This chart includes new data SAM received from Congress through interviews under the Peacekeeping Operations, Section 1206 and Section 1207 programs. As we cannot yet release the official documents, some of this data is not included in our Military Aid database.

Increased counterterrorism aid to the Kenyan government comes at time when there are elevated concerns about the security forces’ ability to effectively prevent escalating terrorist violence. Following the Westgate Mall terrorist attack, U.S. defense experts have worried that Kenyan soldiers are motivated more by greed than a national need to address terrorism. Instead of trying to stop the terrorists, some Kenyan soldiers decided to loot the stores. Kenyan security forces have been linked to human rights violations of Muslim and ethnic Somali communities in Kenya, which appears to encourage new recruits for terrorist groups. Corruption remains a serious problem for the recruitment of qualified soldiers and the delivery of police services. The Kenyan government is also rolling back efforts to enhance accountability of the security forces, which already receive little parliament and civil society oversight.

The below summary highlights the likely major components of the $100 million U.S. counterterrorism aid package for FY 2015 to help assess the risks of providing this aid to Kenyan security forces. At the end of the summary, there are several recommendations about what President Obama could encourage the Uhuru Kenyatta Administration to do to help reduce these risks during his visit.

U.S. Counterterrorism Aid for FY 2015

Compared to previous years, the United States is putting most of its support behind the Kenya military for the fight against Al-Shabaab this year. Of the $100 million in counterterrorism aid to Kenya for FY 2015, $95 million (95 percent) is set to go to the Kenyan military. In FY 2012, the Obama Administration provided a much greater share of the total counterterrorism aid to the Kenyan police with $9 million (44 percent) of the total $21 million going to the police (see Figure 2). Since FY 2013, the United States has been gradually increasing its counterterrorism aid to the Kenyan military and decreasing its counterterrorism aid to the police.

Source: Security Assistance Monitor analysis of official U.S. government documents and reports on U.S. military and police aid to Kenya
Notes: This chart includes new data SAM received from Congress about Peacekeeping Operations and Section 1206 and Section 1207 program funding. As it is not yet possible to release the official documents, some of this data is not included in our Military Aid database.

U.S. Military Aid

The majority of U.S. military aid to Kenya this year aims to enhance Kenya Armed Forces participation in the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and military operations against Al-Shabaab through the Defense Department’s Counterterrorism Partnership Fund (CTPF) and Section 1206 programs (see Figure 3). Of the $95 million slated for the Kenyan military, an estimated $59 million in CTPF aid will support Kenyan military efforts operating within AMISOM to “deny Al-Shabaab a safe haven.” These funds will enhance efforts for a “maneuver and border force, counter-IED, intelligence, and logistics” and help Kenya soldiers identify and target Al-Shabaab operatives and respond to terrorist attacks. 

Source: Security Assistance Monitor analysis of official U.S. government documents and reports on U.S. military and police aid to Kenya
Notes: This chart includes new data SAM received from Congress about Section 1206 program funding. As it is not yet possible to release the official documents, some of this data is not included in our Military Aid database.

Both CTPF and Section 1206 funding will provide the Kenya military with various types military aircraft for activities in Somalia or along the Kenya/Somalia border. A significant part of the CTPF money to AMISOM will be used to supply fixed and rotary wing aircraft to improve troop mobility. According to DoD notifications to Congress for FY 2015, about $19 million of the total $35 million in Section 1206 funding to Kenya will be used to buy a RAVEN and Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Systems. The remaining $25.2 million will support the Kenyan Ranger Regiment. The Kenyan military will also likely receive counterterrorism aid under the Peacekeeping Operations program through the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterrorism (PREACT) account. However, the State Department has yet to publicized the amount for Kenya.

U.S. military aid to Kenya under the Combatting Terrorism Fellowship Program for FY 2015 will be largely focused on training the Kenyan military on key aspects to combating terrorism. Some of the proposed course titles include: 1) Comprehensive Security Responses to Terrorism; 2) Advance Special Operations Combating Terrorism Alumni Course; 3) Program On CYBER Security Studies; and 4) Strategic Level Small Craft Combatting Terrorism.

U.S. Police Aid

While the United States is providing proportionately less police aid to Kenya this year, the administration is providing more police aid for combating terrorism than many other Sub-Saharan African countries. By comparison, the United States planned no counterterrorism aid to police in both Niger and Mali in FY 2015, which also face serious terrorists threats. For FY 2015, all U.S. counterterrorism aid to the Kenya police will be provided through the State Department’s Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) fund. The total amount of counterterrorism aid under NADR is $4.75 million.

NADR funds will help to build capacity of Kenyan law enforcement in the areas of border security, investigations and crisis response “with a strong emphasis on strengthening the skills, commitment and knowledge necessary to conduct operations in accordance with international human rights conventions,” according to the State Department. Kenya will also receive additional NADR funding this year to allow Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to share data regionally to identify and stop potential terrorists through the U.S. provided border security system. No U.S. aid will be given to the Kenya police to support counterterrorist financing as provided in previous years.

Recommendations

Recognizing the importance of reducing corruption within Kenyan government, President Obama plans to seek greater commitment from Kenya government officials to fight corruption during his trip. This is a key objective for helping improve the accountability and effectiveness of both the military and police, which are critical to reducing terrorist violence. To help ensure the Kenya government will tackle this problem, President Obama could encourage the Kenyatta administration to improve transparency about Kenyan security strategy and its implementation to allow for greater parliament and civil society debate.

During Obama’s meetings with the Kenyan government, he could also “urge the government and police leadership to order investigations into reports of security force abuses…” as suggested in a recent letter to Obama by several Kenyan and international organizations. Similarly, Obama could “underscore that indiscriminate targeting of Muslim and ethnic Somali communities is neither an effective nor a lawful response to attacks by armed groups in Kenya, and risks…fueling radicalization instead of mitigating it.”

Addressing the motivation problem within the Kenya military appears to be a more complex challenge. As one defense expert notes, the Kenyan military needs greater national identify and national purpose, but this is unlikely to happen in Kenya in the near future. This underscores the fact that despite U.S. efforts to assist the Kenyan government to address many of the above problems, they may persist or worsen. To help protect U.S. interests, Obama could improve U.S. risk identification and mitigation both before aid is given and after it is delivered. 

For questions or information, please Colby Goodman, Senior Research Associate, at colby@ciponline.org.