Kenya: Ruto announces death of KDF chief Francis Ogolla in chopper crash


NAIROBI, Kenya - The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) chief General Francis Ogolla died on Thursday afternoon in one of Kenya's bandit-prone zones, President William Ruto announced later in the evening, hours after the tragic incident which left the country mourning.

Surrounded by top military Generals, President William Ruto termed the death a 'painful loss' to the nation, noting that 'we have lost gallant soldiers who were on the tour of duty'. President William Ruto announced the death a few minutes past 8 pm local time.

The Chief of Defence Forces, he added, was on a tour of mission in North Rift, a region battling against banditry. The KDF visited Baringo, Turkana, and West Pokot where he joined KDF troops in Operation Maliza Uhalifu, which is geared towards stabilizing the bandit-prone regions.

The aircraft crashed moments after 2 pm local time, but it took over six hours for the president to make the death public. The aircraft had 12 military officers and servicemen on board, with just two surviving the horror, and are currently undergoing treatment at Forces Memorial Hospital.

General Ogolla had just completed his trip to the region where he commissioned newly renovated schools and was headed to Recruit Training School in Eldoret before the tragedy struck, President William Ruto announced.

"We send our condolences to the affected families. In Gen. Ogolla's honor, the nation shall mourn for three days with the Kenyan flag, EAC flag, and KDF flags all being flown half-mast," he added, in a statement that lasted less than four minutes.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta said: " The CDF was not only an accomplished military leader but also a devoted patriot who dedicated his life to serving and protecting our beloved country. His leadership, bravery, and unwavering commitment to duty have made a lasting impact on our armed forces and our nation as a whole. "

"As the Head of State, I had the privilege of serving with General Ogolla as Deputy Commander of the Kenya Air Force, Commander of the Kenya Air Force, and finally as Vice Chief of Defence Forces," he added.

The late Kenya Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) Gen Francis Omondi Ogolla has left behind a distinguished legacy of service to his country. Gen Ogolla was Kenya's highest-ranking military officer until his passing and served as the principal military adviser to the President and Cabinet.

He was appointed as the Commander of the Kenya Air Force on July 15, 2018, and served in that role for three years. In July 2021, he was appointed as the Vice Chief of the Defence Forces (VCDF).

Later, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and appointed as the Chief of Defence Forces on April 28, 2023. General Ogolla's military career began when he joined the Kenya Air Force on April 24, 1984, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on May 6, 1985.

Over the years, he rose through the ranks, earning various promotions and taking on increasingly challenging assignments. He trained as a fighter pilot and an instructor pilot with the United States Air Force and also received training in other areas, such as imagery intelligence, counter-terrorism, and accident investigation.

In terms of education, General Ogolla had a diverse academic background.

He held a Diploma in International Studies and Military Science from Egerton University, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Armed Conflict, and Peace Studies (First Class Honours), and a Master of Arts degree in International Studies from the University of Nairobi.

He also attended the École Militaire de Paris and the National Defence College of Kenya.

General Ogolla held various appointments in training, command, and staff, including Deputy Commander of Kenya Air Force, Base Commander of Laikipia Air Base, Commanding Officer of Tactical Fighter Wing, Chief Flying Instructor at Kenya Air Force Flying Training School, and Operations Desk Officer at Kenya Air Force Headquarters.


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