President Ruto appoints General Charles Kahariri as new CDF

President William Ruto has promoted Vice Chief of Defence Forces, Lt Gen Charles Muriu Kahariri, to a four-star general and named him Kenya’s 11th Chief of Defence Forces.

Gen Kahariri now takes over from Gen Francis Omondi Ogolla, who died last month in a chopper crash in Elgeyo Marakwet.

At the same time, current Kenya Army Commander, Maj-Gen John Mugaravai Omenda, has been promoted to the rank of Lt-Gen and named Vice Chief of Defence Forces.

Lt-Gen Omenda’s promotion has seen the promotion of the first woman service commander, with the promotion of Maj-Gen Fatuma Gaiti Ahmed as the Kenya Airforce Commander.

Other appointments include that of Maj-Gen Thomas Ng’ang’a, currently Kenya Navy commander, to the role of Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration and Finance, at the National Defence University-Kenya.

Maj Gen Ng’ang’a will be replaced as the Kenya Navy Commander by Maj-Gen Paul Owuor Otieno.

Also promoted was Brigadier Peter Nyamu Githinji, who has been promoted to the rank of Maj-Gen and appointed Senior Directing Staff, Air at the National Defence College.

Other promotions are Brigadier Jattani Kampare Gula, who has risen to Major General, and has been named Managing Director, Kenya Meat Commission while Brigadier George Okumu has also risen to Major General and appointed Managing Director, Kenya Ordinance Factories Corporation and Food Processing Factory.

Brigadier Samuel Kipkosgei Korir has been named Deputy Commander, Kenya Air Force.

Lt-Gen Jimson Longiro Mutai still remains Vice Chancellor, National Defence University-Kenya), Lt-Gen David Kimaiyo Tarus (Kenya Army Commander), and Lt-Gen Juma Shee Mwinyikai (Commandant of the National Defence College).

Newly appointed Chief of Defence Forces General Charles Muriu Kahariri.


Before his promotion to the second highest rank in the military, Lt-Gen Kahariri was deputy commandant National Defence College.

Lt-Gen Mutai was previously the Kenya Navy boss; Lt-Gen Tarus deputy Kenya Army Commander; and Lt-Gen Mwinyikai served in Somalia and led the advance to Kismayo, and the security of Jubaland near the Kenyan border.

Only the Kenya Army commander is in the rank of a Lt-Gen, with his counterparts commanding their units in the rank of major general.

Gen Ogolla was from the Kenya Airforce, while his predecessor Gen Kibochi was from the Kenya Army and Gen Samson Mwathethe, was from the Kenya Navy.

The KDF Act says a CDF, his deputy and service commanders shall serve a single term of four years or retire upon attaining the mandatory retirement age.

The Act, however, allows the president, on the recommendation of the National Defence Council, extend the CDF’s term for a period not exceeding one year.

A General’s retirement age is set at 62, while that of Lt-Gen at 61, and Maj-Gen and Brigadier retiring at 59 and 57, respectively.

“The President may remove, retire or redeploy the Chief of the Defence Forces, the Vice Chief of the Defence Forces or any of the Service Commanders at any time before the expiry of the term of office,” the Act says.

Besides age, there is also the bit of seniority and what role that plays in the appointment of a four-star general.

“In appointing the Chief of the Defence Forces, the Vice Chief of the Defence Forces and the three Service Commanders, the President shall take into account— seniority; military and formal civil education; the possession of a relevant degree from a university or an institution recognized in Kenya or such other equivalent qualifications as may be approved by the Defence Council; and military and security experience,” the KDF Act says.

The Defence Council which will recommend names to the Head of State is chaired by Defence Cabinet Secretary, currently Aden Duale, also has the CDF, the three service commanders of the Defence Forces, and Defence Principal Secretary, currently held by Patrick Mariru.

The council is responsible for the overall policy, control, and supervision of the Kenya Defence Forces; and performs any other functions prescribed by national legislation, including advising the President on KDF, formulate overall KDF policy and monitor its implementation; as well as exercise oversight role on the training or undertaking of instructions of members of the Defence Forces in any country outside Kenya.

Previous KDF bosses are: Maj-Gen Joseph Ndolo (1969-1971), Gen (Rtd) Jackson Mulinge (1971-1986), Gen (Rtd) Mohamud Haji Mohamed Barrow (1986-1996), Gen (Rtd) Daudi Tonje (1996-2000), Gen (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana (2000-2005), Gen (Rtd) Jeremiah Kianga (2005-2011), Gen (Rtd) Julius Waweru Karangi (2011-2015), Gen (Rtd) Samson Mwathethe (2015-2020), General Robert Kariuki Kibochi (2020-2023), and General Francis Omondi Ogolla (2023 – 2024).

Maj-Gen Ndolo, Gen (Rtd) Mulinge and Gen (Rtd) Ogolla have since died, while all the rest are alive.

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