British Army Training Unit Kenya

The British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) is a training support unit of the British Army located in Kenya under long-standing cooperative agreements with Kenya.

Current status

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) maintains a longstanding Defence Cooperation Agreement with the Kenyan Government whereby up to six British infantry battalions (10,000 service personnel) per year may carry out four-week exercises on Kenya Ministry of Defence land at Archer's Post and in Laikipia County.[1] The hot conditions and rugged terrain are unavailable in the UK and present an opportunity for British soldiers to improve their skills through training.

The exercises are run by BATUK from its base at Nyati Barracks in Nanyuki, 200 km north of the capital. In addition three Royal Engineers squadrons carry out civil engineering projects, while two medical company group deployments provide primary health care assistance to the civilian community. Britain offers training opportunities in the UK to the Kenyan military and conducts joint exercises with the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF). It also supports Kenya's struggle against Al Shabaab, including the deployment of British personnel to Somalia to provide the KDF with logistical support and contributions towards anti-terrorism training for the Kenya Police and border guards.

Diplomatic Dispute

British Army training in Kenya became part of a broader series of diplomatic disputes between the UK and Kenya in 2013–2015. While the Defence Cooperation agreement between the UK and Kenya required British Troops to abide by Kenyan Law, the British Army prefers to try soldiers under UK military law. Whilst British Soldiers were subject to Kenyan Law, they therefore existed in something of a legal grey area. The Kenyan Government contends that British Troops may have been involved in unsolved serious violent crimes in Nanyuki. Moreover British Bases and Military shipping were not subject to except from by all Kenyan Authorities. These two disputes resulted in a confrontation in 2013. Laikipia County is plagued by lawlessness and British Military equipment has often been subject to large-scale theft during exercises. A confrontation ensued a group of heavily armed men apparently intent banditry were spotted infringing on a military training area during and exercise during which Sergeant Bryan George Maddison a member of the BATUK training team shot and killed one of the 12 armed intruders in self defence. Whilst the Nanyuki police stated Maddison had acted reasonably, some Kenyan local politicians and the Kenyan Attorney General called for Maddison to be tried in Kenya. Maddison was detained in Kenya and the dispute faded. In response Britain apparently investigated alternative training opportunities in Tanzania and Djibouti sparking concern British withdrawal would result in very significant economic damage in and the loss of free medical services provided by the British Ministry of Defence.

Injuries resulting to civilians from live munitions were also a cause of tension; activists claim up to 50 Kenyans (mainly herders) have been killed by munitions unexploded ordnances since 1945. The British Government responds that those injured had chosen to illegally enter marked training areas and suggests unexploded ordnances may have been left by Kenyan troops who share the training areas.[2]

The dispute's real cause is in all likelihood British condemnation of President Kenyatta's Election in 2013 due to ongoing Crime against Humanity proceedings against him at the International Criminal Court. Whilst Britain is Kenya's largest foreign investor, Kenya adopted a Look East Policy attempting to attract more Chinese Investment.

Talks between David Cameron and President Uhuru Kenyatta resulted in an agreement in September 2015 whereby British military sites became subject to inspection, British soldiers are to be tried in Kenya (not necessarily under Kenyan Law) clarifying the previous legal grey area and Kenyan Soldiers are to be offered more training opportunities both in the UK and with British Forces in Kenya. This agreement reflects a more general warming of relations between President Kenyatta and Cameron's Government.

British Army installations in Kenya

Name Part of Country County Opened Description
The Nanyuki Show Ground (NSG)Formerly the British Army Training Unit Kenya

Now vacated since March 2019 and handed back to the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK). Previously acting as a rear base for a brigade sized battle group with all the required facilities including accommodation helicopter facilities, a Headquarters building, a medical centre, vehicle maintenance and storage together with leisure and training facilities.[3]

Kahawa Barracks, NairobiBritish Army Training Unit KenyaNairobiBATUK Rear area base and Depot.
Kifaru Barracks, NairobiBritish Army Training Unit KenyaKenyaNairobiBATUK Rear area base and Depot.
Archer's Post Training AreaBritish Army Training Unit KenyaKenyaLosesia Area1945
Dol Dol Training AreaBritish Army Training Unit KenyaKenyaLaikipia County1945
International Mine Action Training CentreBritish Peace Support Team East AfricaKenyaNairobi County2005The IMATC is a joint British and Kenyan venture aimed at alleviating the suffering caused by landmines and Explosive Remnants of War by providing high quality Mine Action Training.
Peace Training Support CentreBritish Peace Support Team East AfricaKenyaNairobi County2005Collocated with the Eastern Africa Standby Force site

References

  1. "The British Army in Africa". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  2. Britain's secret killing fields, theguardian.com, 2001
  3. British Army Training Unit, Kenya, campbellreith.com

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