Special Operations: Kenyan Commandos


November 23, 2011: Kenya has apparently let loose some of their secretive paratroop commandoes in Somalia. Kenyan troops moved into Somalia last month, and the target of this attack, the Somali al Shabaab Islamic terrorist organization, promised swift retaliation. The terrorist attack never came, or at least not yet. While al Shabaab has a fearsome reputation, they have not done well against professional troops. While most of the Kenyan Army has a reputation for lackadaisical performance, there are exceptions. For example, the 20th Parachute Regiment has long been considered an elite, highly selective and well trained unit. The 20th even has its own "best of the best"; D Company. This last outfit is considered on a par with Western commando organizations and has trained with, and been trained by, them.

While 20 Para is technically an airborne infantry battalion (called a "regiment"), they rarely are used like that. Instead, they are regarded as the most reliable and effective unit in the army of 63,000 troops. There are believed to be only a few hundred troops in 20 Para, and when not training, they are often used for intelligence collection (usually in civilian clothes) inside Kenya. The fight against Islamic terrorism inside Kenya has used 20 Para a lot, and the "Kenyan recon patrols in Somalia" that are sometimes mentioned in the news, are probably 20 Para as well.

The 20 Para is sometimes confused with GSU (General Service Unit), the commando unit of the national police. GSU has been around for over half a century, and is regarded as the final defense for any attempt to overthrow the government. Both GSU and 20 Para have been heavily involved in counter-terror operations, as well as suppressing the tribal wars along the borders with Uganda, Somalia and Ethiopia. These tribal feuds have gotten a lot nastier during the last two decades, as the area was flooded with cheap, Cold War surplus weapons (mainly AK-47s and RPGs.) This has given 20 Para and GSU plenty of combat experience, and a reputation for ruthlessness.



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