Kenyan Defence Force ranks and salaries for Army, Air Force, and Navy

Kenyan Defence Force ranks and salaries and structure will be explained in this article. The Kenyan Defence Force ranks is the structure put in place by the Kenyan Armed Forces to differentiate the various levels of the military Force. While the salaries for personnel of all the branches differs according to the rank, level of education, and years of service.

This article would provide readers with a comprehensive insight on the Kenya Defence Forces ranks and salaries structure.

Overview of the Kenyan Defence Force

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) is the armed forces of the republic of Kenya. It comprises of the Kenya Army, Kenya Navy and Kenya Air Force.

The Kenyan Defence Force was established in 1928 and its composition, role and salaries is highlighted in Article 241 of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya; it is governed by the KDF Act of 2012.

The KDF is headed by the President of Kenya, who is the commander-in-chief of all armed forces, while the Chief of Defence Forces (Kenya) is the highest-ranking military officer, and the principal military adviser to the President of Kenya and the National Security Council.

The current leadership comprises of Commander-in-Chief President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Defence Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Monica Juma, and the Chief of Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi.

The Kenyan Defence Force is considered one of the best in Africa, The Kenya Defense Forces are mandated to defend and protect the sovereignty and the territories of the country by enhancing regional economic stability and combating terrorism to a large extent.

It’s total manpower is around 25,000 personnel.

Duties of the Kenya Defence Forces

The duties of the Kenyan Defense Force are:

  1. Defend the nation, it’s citizens, and resources from foreign and domestic aggression.
  2. Support the police force in providing internal security.
  3. Contribute to international peacekeeping operations.
  4. Support the civil authorities during emergencies.

Kenyan Defence Force ranks structure

Owing to its membership of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Kenyan Defense Force has a similar rank structure that of the United Kingdom – especially the British Army.

In 1968, in order to restructure and centralize administrative functions, the rank structure of the Army, Air Force, and Navy in Kenyan Defense Force was unified, the standard army designation and insignia was adopted with minor changes.

Maj Gen Ndolo as Kenya’s first native Chief of Defence Forces, in 1978 the highest officer rank was a major general, held only by the army commander. Few months after August 1982, the Kenya Air Force modified it’s badges of ranks to look like those of the Army.

Kenyan Defence Force salaries structure

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission of Kenya review salaries of officers which are evaluated every four years jointly.

The Kenyan Defence Force salaries of officers are every four years by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission of Kenya. Thus, the salaries listed here are from the 2017 payroll structure.

The four years payroll review structure means that KDF troops receive an increase in wages depending on the economic situation in the country. The last salary review was conducted in 2015, which means that the next increase will be in 2020.

Allowances are paid depending on your rank or the deployment involved, such as peacekeeping. That is, every KDF soldier receive from Ksh 5,000 to Ksh 10,000 per day when outside the country.

Also, KDF soldiers are given a discount on all commodities so they buy goods at half price. For example, normally sugar costs Ksh 120 in the regular stores. In the barracks you will be able to buy the same amount of sugar for Ksh 70 or even less.

Kenyan Army ranks and salaries

Kenyan Army ranks structure

The Kenyan Army is the land branch of the Kenyan Defence Force, it was founded in 1964 and it’s headquarters is in Nairobi, Kenya.

It current commander is Lieutenant General Walter Koipaton Raria, the Kenyan Army is structured with various formations and services which are:

  • 2 Brigade
  • 4 Brigade
  • 6 Brigade
  • 8 Brigade
  • Ranger Brigade
  • Kenyan Army Artillery Brigade
  • Kenyan Army Armored Brigade
  • Kenyan Army Engineers Brigade
  • Kenyan Army Corp of Signals Brigade
  • Kenya Army Ordnance Corps
  • Kenya Army Corps of Transport (KACT)
  • Kenya Army Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (KACEME)
  • Military Police Corps (MPC)
  • Kenya Army Medical Corps
  • Kenya Army Corps of Education (KACE)
  • Defence Forces Constabulary (DFC)

Kenyan Army ranks

Kenya Defence Force ranks are segmented into two main group, that is, the Commissioned Officers and Non-commissioned Officers depending on their roles.

The KDF officers are the managers, important decision-makers and planners who lead the Non-commissioned Officers in all situations. are responsible for leading and training the troops.

Non-commissioned officers

Listed below are ranks of Non-Commissioned Officers popularly known as NCOs.

  1. Private
  2. Corporal
  3. Lance Corporal
  4. Sergeant
  5. Senior Sergeant
  6. Warrant Officer II
  7. Warrant Officer I
Non-commissioned Officers roles and duties

Private: lowest rank for non-commissioned officers attained immediately after completing first Phase of military training.

Corporal: second-lowest rank, attained after serving three years as a Private or passing your second Phase of military training.

Sergeant: this rank comes with increased responsibility, due to being second in command to a platoon (35 soldiers) and an advising role for the junior officers. This rank is gained after twelve years of service.

Senior Sergeant: this rank comes with the responsibility of commanding an Army company (around 120 soldiers), promotion from Sergeant to either a Colour or Staff Sergeant is attained after two years.

Warrant Officer II: this rank comes with the responsibility of acting as a senior adviser to a Major who is in command of a sub-unit. A Warrant Officer II focuses on training and discipline of a Company of soldiers.

Warrant Officer I: this is the highest rank attainable for Non-commissioned officers, after 18 outstanding years of service. Warrant Officer I is responsible for leadership, welfare and discipline of a whole Battalion (around 650 soldiers). They are also a senior advisor to the unit’s commanding officer like a Colonel.

Commissioned officers

Below are ranks of commissioned officers;

  1. Cadet
  2. Second Lieutenant
  3. Lieutenant
  4. Captain
  5. Major
  6. Lieutenant Colonel
  7. Colonel
  8. Brigadier
  9. Major General
  10. Lieutenant General
Commissioned officers roles and duties

Cadet: This is the rank you are at while undergoing training at Lanet.

Second Lieutenant: This is the first rank commissioned. It’s a rank you will hold for up to three years while undergoing specialised training. In this rank, you will lead up to 30 soldiers in a troop or platoon both in operations and training.

Lieutenant: You will be in the rank for three years with an opportunity to gain more specialised skills out of your unit. Afterwards, you will have the responsibility of leading up to 30 soldiers in a troop or platoon.

Captain: In this rank, you will be second in command for up to 120 soldiers in a sub-unit. You will be part of decision making and planning processes with on-ground tactical responsibility on operations, logistic support, maintenance of equipment, and workforce.

Major: You will gain promotion to this rank after around 8 – 10 years of outstanding service and leadership skills. You will get to command a sub-unit of about 120 soldiers and officers. You have the responsibility for administration, welfare and training your sub-unit both on operations and in camp and also managing their equipment.

Lieutenant Colonel: It’s a rank you will hold for two years, commanding 4 – 5 sub-units that have up to 650 soldiers. You will be responsible for their overall operational effectiveness in general discipline, welfare, and military capabilities.

Colonel: In this rank, you will not be a field commander, but in the lowest of the staff ranks. You will be a senior operational advisor to the senior officers as well as serving as a staff officer between field commands at brigade or battalion level.

Brigadier: In this rank, you will be a Field officer, in charge of a brigade or a director of staff.

Major General: In this rank, you will be in charge of divisions and senior staff appointments.

Lieutenant General: In this rank, you will be in charge of Corps sized formations.
General: It’s the most senior rank, holding positions such as the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Defence Staff or Chief of General Staff.

Kenyan Army salaries

Listed below is a categorisation of the Kenya Army salary scales for all the ranks. Note all salary figures are in Kenyan Shillings (ksh) which is the country’s currency.

  • The salary of a cadet in the Kenyan Army is around KSh7,172 monthly, even while still in training.
  • The salary of a Private in the Kenyan Army is between KSh19,941 and 30,000 monthly.The salary of a Lance Corporals in the Kenyan Army is between KSh26,509 to 50,000 monthly.
  • The salary of a Corporal in the Kenyan Army is between KSh32,250 to 70,000 monthly.
  • The salary of a Captain in the Kenyan Army is between KSh73,182 to 110,000 monthly.
  • The salary of a Major in the Kenyan Army salary is between KSh102,106 to 150,000 monthly.
  • The salary of a Lieutenant Colonel in the Kenyan Army is between KSh130,735 to 180,000 monthly.
  • The salary of a Colonel in the Kenyan Army is between KSh153,317 to 300,000 monthly.
  • The salary of a Lieutenant General in the Kenyan Army is between KSh632,984 to 800,000 monthly.
  • The salary of a Chief of Defence Forces in the Kenyan Army is between Ksh894,897 to 1 million monthly.

KDF specialist officer

Specialist Officers are those who enter the service with an underlying training in any professional field, especially graduates.

Depending on the rank and what you have specialised in, you should expect your KDF specialist officers salary to be different from the rest of the other officers.

Kenyan Air Force ranks and salaries

Kenya Air Force structure

The Kenyan Air Force was founded 56 years ago in 1 June 1964, immediately after independence, with the assistance of the United Kingdom, it is the national aerial warfare service branch of the Republic of Kenya.

The KAF has 152 aircraft, and the Commander of the Air Force is Major General Francis Ogolla.

Kenyan Air Force headquarters is in Moi Air Base in Eastleigh, Nairobi, while it operates it’s aircrafts chiefly from Laikipia Air Base in Nanyuki. Other bases includes Forward Operating Base (FOB) Mombasa ( Moi International Airport ), FOB Mandera, FOB Wajir & FOB Nyeri for helicopter and utility aircraft operate.

Kenyan Air Force ranks

Kenya Air forces ranks is divided into two divisions the Officers And Airmen Officers depending on roles played. Outlined below in descending order is the Kenya Air Force ranks:


Kenyan Air Force Commissioned Officers ranks

  1. Air Marshall
  2. Air Vice Marshall
  3. Air Commodore
  4. Group Captain
  5. Wing Commander
  6. Squadron Leader
  7. Flight Lieutenant
  8. Flying Officer
  9. Pilot Officer

Kenyan Air Force Airmen ranks

  1. Warrant Officer Class I
  2. Warrant Officer Class II
  3. Flight Sergeant
  4. Sergeant
  5. Corporal
  6. Leading Aircraftman I
  7. Leading Aircraftman II

Kenya Air Force salaries

Listed below is the latest information on the Kenya Air Force salary scales for all the ranks.

The salaries for the Kenyan Air Force officers are reviewed every four years by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission of Kenya. According to the proposed 2017 salary structure.

The salary of the Chief of Defence Forces is Ksh 840,000 with Ksh 336,000 allowances all totaling to Ksh 1,120,000.

  • The salary of the Air Vice Marshal of the Kenyan Air Force is Ksh 695,625 with Ksh 278,250 allowances all totaling to Ksh 927,500.
  • The salary of the Air Commodore of the Kenya Air force gets is Ksh 906,014
  • The salary a Wing Commander in the Kenyan Air Force is Sh153,317.
  • The salary for a Squadron Leader in the Kenyan Air Force KSh 130,735.
  • The salary for a Flight Lieutenant in the Kenyan Air Force is KSh 102,106.
  • The salary for a Flying Officer in the Kenyan Air Force is Sh 73,182.
  • The salary for a Corporal in the Kenyan Air Force is KSh 32,250.
  • The salary for a Leading Aircraftman II in the Kenyan Air Force is KSh 26,509.
  • The salary for a Leading Aircraftman in the Kenyan Air Force is KSh 19,941.

Kenyan Navy ranks and salaries

Kenyan Navy structure

The Kenyan Navy was founded 56 years ago, in 1964. It’s headquarter is in
Mombasa. It’s current commander is Major General Jimson Longiro Mutai. The Kenyan Navy currently has 18 vessels of different classes.

The Kenya Navy also has Mtongwe base in Mombasa, Shimoni, Msambweni, Malindi, Kilifi. Another naval base located in Manda (part of Lamu Archipelago) was established in 1995.

Kenyan Navy ranks

The names of ranks in the Kenya Navy resembles that of the Kenyan Army rather than traditional Royal Navy as seen in the other members of the Commonwealth.
Kenya Navy ranks is divided into two groups the Officers And naval ratings.

Outlined below in descending order is the Kenya Navy ranks:

Kenyan Navy Officer ranks

  • Midshipman
  • Sub-Lieutenant
  • Lieutenant
  • Lieutenant Commander
  • Commander
  • Captain
  • Commodore
  • Rear-Admiral
  • Vice Admiral
  • Admiral

Kenyan Navy salary

  • Commander of Kenya Navy gets Ksh 902,432.
  • The salary of the Admiral of the Kenyan Navy is Ksh 695,625 with Ksh 278,250 allowances all totaling to Ksh 927,500.
  • The salary of the Commodore of the Kenya Navy gets is Ksh 906,014
  • The salary a Captain in the Kenyan Navy is Sh153,317.
  • The salary for a Commander in the Kenyan Navy KSh 130,735.
  • The salary for a Lieutenant in the Kenyan Navy is KSh 102,106.
  • The salary for a Midshipman in the Kenyan Navy is Sh 73,182.
  • The salary for a Able Seamanin the Kenyan Navy is KSh 32,250.
  • The salary for a Leading Seaman in the Kenyan Navy is KSh 26,509.
  • The salary for a Junior Seaman in the Kenyan Navy is KSh 19,941.

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