Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Ranks and Their Salaries

April 12, 2022

how to join kdf in kenya

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) are the armed forces of the Republic of Kenya, established by Article 241 of the 2010 constitution. Its operation is governed by The KDF Act of 2012 and is administered by the Ministry of Defense.

It has three major wings; Kenya Army, Kenya Navy, and Kenya Air Force.

Many Kenyans are curious to know the functions of KDF, how to join KDF in Kenya, KDF ranks, and KDF salaries. These are discussed below:

What are the functions of KDF in Kenya?

1. The main function of KDF is to protect the territorial integrity of Kenya by repelling any external attacks
2. Provide aid during emergencies such as floods, fires, and earthquakes
3. Help in nation-building activities such as the construction of bridges in inaccessible areas
4. They are deployed in peace-keeping missions to other countries experiencing war
5. Entertain people during national holidays

How to join KDF in Kenya: Requirements for joining the armed forces of Kenya

Do you have a dream of protecting your country and offering service to citizens? Here is the guide on how you can join the armed forces of Kenya and make your dream come true.

The KDF constitutes personnel with the utmost respect and unmatched discipline. They conduct recruitment every year at various recruitment centers spread countrywide. One recruitment center is located in each sub-county in Kenya. Here are the requirements for you to pass the recruitment process.

1. You must be a Kenyan citizen by birth and not a holder of dual citizenship
2. Must be 18 to 26 years for general service recruits and cadets and not above 39 years for religious leaders such as reverends, imams, and chaplains
3. You must have attained a minimum of a D in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations
4. You must pass physical and medical tests as per KDF standards
5. Have a clean criminal record and not have been convicted for any offense

The KDF recruitment process is free and fair. However, pregnant women are barred from participating in the KDF recruitment process.

kdf salaries in kenya

KDF minimum height – Men 1.60m (5ft 3in), Women 1.52m (5ft)
KDF minimum weight – Men 54.55kg, Women 50.00kg

How long does military training take in Kenya? After passing the recruitment process, successful recruits are taken for six months of foundational military training before being enlisted in KDF and awarded ranks.

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) ranks in Kenya

Military ranks are the hierarchical relationships that define respect, dominance, and authority. Ranks depict the power of a military officer.

In the KDF, ranks are accorded on merit; education, and performance. One gets a rank immediately after completing the training. Ranks are awarded based on two categories; Non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers.

Non-commissioned officers

These are recruits who were enlisted with a high school certificate in Kenya. They have no specialty, and thus, they train as servicemen, and they are the ones who are mostly deployed to missions.

how much does a kdf officer earn in kenya?
Military badges for non-commissioned officers in Kenya.

Here are their ranks from the lowest to the highest:

1. Private

This is the lowest rank one attains after completion of phase 1: six months of foundational military training at a training school.

Being the junior-most rank, privates have no military insignia (badge) until they attain the rank of a corporal.

2. Corporal

This rank is attained after completion of phase 2 training and three years in service.

3. Sergeant

A sergeant is the chief advisor of junior officers, and the rank is reached after 12 years of service. A sergeant is the assistant commander of a platoon of 35 soldiers.

4. Senior Sergeant

One is promoted to senior sergeant after two years of being a sergeant. This rank calls a responsibility of a whole troop of 120 soldiers and their military equipment.

5. Warrant officer II

This rank is earned based on performance as a senior sergeant. Their badges are displayed on the right wrist. They report to the Major in command of a sub-unit and are heads of a troop of 120 soldiers.

6. Warrant officer I

After 18 years of outstanding service, one can be elevated to warrant officer I, a senior rank in the non-commissioned officers’ category, managing a platoon of 650 soldiers and equipment.

Commissioned officers

Commissioned officers are army officers with a specialty and were enlisted based on their areas of expertise as indicated on their post-secondary certificate. They are tasked to train and lead enlisted officers. They usually receive their training at Kenya Military Academy (KMA) in Nakuru.

kdf ranks and their salaries in kenya
Military badges of commissioned officers in Kenya.

Here are the commissioned officers’ ranks in Kenya from lowest to the highest:

1. Cadet

This rank is earned just after graduating from KMA in Nakuru. It is the junior-most rank among commissioned officers.

2. Second lieutenant

This is a temporary rank for army officers who have served as cadets for two years. This position lasts for three years while they undergo specialized training for the next promotion. They lead a troop of 30 soldiers.

3. Lieutenant

One becomes a lieutenant after 3 to 5 years of exemplary service. Lieutenants are officers with specialized skills in their respective units.

4. Captain

After six years of service, the Captain’s rank is earned. They are in charge of a unit with 120 soldiers, are part of the decision-making team, and oversee the maintenance of equipment.

5. Major

To be a Major, one has to have the capability of being a leader and have a proven record of decision-making skills after 8 to 10 years in service. A Major commands a sub-unit and a general camp of soldiers.

6. Lieutenant Colonel

Lieutenant Colonel is one of the highest ranks of commissioned officers. They receive reports from the Lieutenants and are in charge of their sub-unit composed of over 120 soldiers.

7. Colonel

Colonel is a KDF officer who offers staff support. It is the lowest staff rank as they report to senior officers above them. Colonels serve as operational officers in the KDF hierarchy.

8. Brigadier

This is the senior field officer commanding a brigade. Several battalions make up a brigade, and a brigade can consist of over 1,000 soldiers.

9. Major General

A Major General is a two-star General legible for promotion as a service commander.

Major Generals convene senior staff appointments and are in charge of KDF promotions.

10. Lieutenant General

A Lieutenant General is in charge of the army corps and serves as a high commander.

11. General

General, Chief of Defence Forces or four-star General is the senior-most rank in the KDF. This position is held only by one person appointed by the President. They serve a single term of four years.

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) salaries in Kenya

All KDF officers are paid every month, but the amount of money received depends on ranks and military experience (years of service). Their salaries are reviewed by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) every four years.

New recruits are paid Ksh7, 172 while undergoing their training. After the completion of training, they will now be given ranks and awarded salaries based on those ranks. Here are the latest KDF salaries in Kenya:

Rank                                                      Salary (depending on experience)

* Cadet                                                    Ksh11,852
* Officer Cadet                                       Ksh24,520
* Privates                                                Ksh19,941 – Ksh30,000
* Lance Corporals                                 Ksh26,509 – Ksh50,000
* Corporals                                             Ksh32,250 – ksh70,000
* Captains                                               Ksh73,182 – Ksh110,000
* Majors                                                  Ksh102,106 – Ksh150,000
* Lieutenant Colonels                          Ksh130,735 – Ksh180,000
* Colonels                                               Ksh153,317 – Ksh300,000
* Lieutenant Generals                         Ksh632,984 – Ksh800,000
* Commander of Kenya Air force      Ksh906,014
* Commander of Kenya Navy            Ksh902,432
* Vice Chief of Defence Forces          Ksh927,500
* Generals                                              Ksh894,897 – Ksh1,120,000

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