Wednesday September 16, 2020 – The US military, through Africa Command, is seeking permission to conduct drone airstrikes in Kenya for counterterrorism missions against Al Shabaab.

This comes after an attack back in January 2020 on an airfield at Manda Bay that killed three Americans and caused damage worth billions of shillings.

The draft rules for potential airstrikes, according to the New York Times, will still have to be approved by the US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and then President Donald Trump.

The US will, however, seek consent from Kenya for any strike which is a contrast to Somalia where permission has been granted to carry out strikes when it sees fit.

Colonel Christopher Karns Director of Public Affairs for U.S. Africa Command highlighted the urgent need for dealing with Al-Shabaab.

“Africom certainly recognizes the need to apply consistent international pressure on Al-Shabab and to monitor their activity, presence, and actively confront them in order to prevent their spread.”

“This can take several forms,” he noted.

Sources also indicate that the draft rules also include offensive strikes intended to pre-empt a suspected threat like foiling a car bomb attack.

However, there are concerns raised by several officials who noted that Kenya has a stable Government and capable security forces hence little need for the United States to carry out frequent drone strikes.

The restrictions on the draft also state that the military will be permitted to conduct strikes only in a portion of Kenya, most notably Garissa and Lamu. 

When the US commanders immediately launched a retaliatory attack in the Manda Bay incident, they did not strike back as the militants eluded them after retreating to Somali territory.

The officials recognized that they lacked guidelines to conduct drone strikes in Kenya should another attack be launched.

Manda was rocked by controversy back in August after Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project claimed that private US contractors are conducting surveillance flights over Somalia from a US military base.


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