Principal Secretary for Defense Ambassador Monica Juma, Commander of the Kenyan Navy Major General Ngewa Mukala, Ladies and Gentlemen. Good morning! Habari za asabuhi!
Six years ago, this camp was established by the U.S. government in partnership with the Kenyan government. The camp’s mission was to provide training and equipment to Kenya’s Maritime Police and maritime components of Kenya’s Administrative Police. Over the past six years, the U.S. government has invested about $11 million dollars – that’s nearly one billion Kenya shillings – to build this camp and to train and equip over 300 officers in 16 courses, including a new corps of Kenyan police instructors. This training and education was an investment in the future of Kenya’s Maritime Police. To all who participated in the training, thank you for your commitment and dedication.
A new generation of Kenyan police went through the training at this camp. Many of the officers who went through the courses are at this moment, right now, engaged in vital, dangerous work to interdict pirates, arrest drug smugglers, interrupt human trafficking rings, and foil poachers. The graduates of this camp are working to keep Kenyans – and hence Americans – safe. Too often, they are doing so at great personal risk to themselves. They are doing so with courage, skill and, I’m pleased to say, success.
I’d like to share a story about this camp and its trainees and one of those successes. On March 20, 2010, Camp Kiboko received a maritime distress call from the Kenyan government indicating that a suspected pirate vessel was operating in the area. Five trainees from Camp Kiboko and one Kenyan instructor embarked on a wide-area search, with two smaller Maritime Police vessels acting in support. Coordinating closely with Kenyan authorities, the trainees were able to pinpoint the location of the pirate vessel after one of the pirates made a phone call. The trainees navigated to the pirates’ location, successfully approached the pirates from behind, and quickly subdued them without bloodshed. They towed the pirate skiff to Lamu where the pirates were arraigned in court. It was a textbook operation, and it demonstrated the range of technical skills from navigation to close interagency coordination to boarding operations that they had learned here at Camp Kiboko.
As you can see from that story, over the past years the United States and Kenya, in partnership, have accomplished much at this camp. Today, it is time to take another step, to open a new chapter. So, on behalf of the U.S. government, I am pleased to be here to formally transfer this camp to the Kenyan Navy. I know the Navy will carry on the strong tradition for excellence and technical expertise that has been built at Camp Kiboko. Kenya’s sailors routinely conduct successful operations off the coast in service of their country and hold to the highest standards in long-standing Kenyan maritime tradition. Of course the mission and the specific operations at the camp will change – but I know the tradition will remain. Perhaps most importantly, the service of the brave police officers and sailors who have trained here and will train here will be an ongoing benefit to Kenya and to all of East Africa. Every day, Kenya works to strengthen security in the region – and the United States stands with Kenya in this endeavor.
As a sign of our ongoing commitment as we transfer this camp, the State Department’s Office of Antiterrorism Assistance, which built this camp, has made some upgrades to it. The office has provided generators that will support the Kenyan Navy Operations Center here. We have rehabilitated the base’s borehole, and installed a reverse osmosis plant to supply clean water. We have reconditioned the maintenance facility, constructed a boat storage area, and constructed a hazardous materials storage area. And we have improved the firing range, to include 18 pistol and shotgun shooting positions at up to 20 meters’ range. As you invest in the future of maritime security, these are tangible signs that we are with you.
The United States has stood with Kenya for fifty years. Together, we have accomplished much in security, health care, education, and so many other areas. We are committed to continuing to build on our partnership and to achieving our shared goals. We are proud to support Kenya as it becomes a regional leader in securing its maritime zone. I thank the Kenyan Maritime and Administrative Police for their work securing Kenya’s borders. And I thank the Kenyan Navy for its close cooperation with the United States and with other East African partners through joint missions and training exercises. The Kenyan Navy is a true regional partner. I look forward to seeing what it will achieve here in future.
Thank you. Asanteni sana.