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KDF General Who will Never Be Forgotten

hagginsMedia 1d

Retired General Daudi Tonje's name is perfectly inscribed into the books of history. Anyone undergoing military training in Kenya will never miss to hear the name of this great man who once led the service during the time of the late Retired President Moi. As a man strict to the core and with higher levels of discipline, Gen Tonje has been emulated and praised. In fact, without him, the KDF service would never have been where it is today.

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Having took charge of the force in the year 1996, the general steered it and refocused it to achieve the best he had envisioned. Upon leaving the force in the year 2000, he had not only left but also left behind a record achievement that can be pointed at. To appreciate the work of Rtd Gen Tonje, perhaps it is important to imagine what the KDF would have been like had he not come to the helm of its leadership.

Before General Tonje's term, promotions in the military were not based on academic performance, women were not allowed into the military, women were not able to lead command units within the military, the title of chief of defense force was not rotational, and the Defense Staff College did not exist.

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However, the general overturned the tables by bringing some of the most radical and progressive changes within the military. The changes he brought include:

- Ensuring that promotions into ranks in the military were purely based on academic performance. This means that those with good academic qualifications stood a better chance of landing higher positions.

- Paving the way for women to be included in the mainstream army. The general ensured this by disbanding the women corps. In this way, women were included into the army. This was a proof in the general's belief in the ability of women to deliver just like men.

- Changing a rule that banned and prevented women from leading commands in units where men were based. Furthermore, he also ushered in a change that allowed women in the army to marry. The mistaken notion that women couldn't balance work and family was severely trashed by the general as he offered them opportunity to prove otherwise.

- Ensuring that the Defense Staff College and the Defense Forces Medical Insurance Scheme are created. Today, many soldiers are trained and graduate within the country and their health and those of close family members are catered for - thanks to general Tonje.

- Introducing service rotation in the Chief of General Staff of defense office among the three services i.e Kenya Army, Kenya Navy, and Kenya Airforce. This means that if the CDF of the KDF is from Kenya army, the next will be of Kenya Air force, then the next of Kenya Navy.

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General (RTD) Daudi Tonje giving inspirational talk to Cadet Recruits at the Kenya Military Academy during the courtesy call [Photo: Ministry of Defense]

Finally, another great thing that Gen Tonje will be remembered for is introducing payment of soldiers through bank accounts. This saved soldiers from having to stay on long queues at the end of each month. Also, he introduced the retirement age of KDF officers at 62 years and made 4 years the term limits for army, air force, and navy service commanders.

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