Kenya Army Ranks and the Salaries They Go With

The Kenya Army is divided into two categories; commissioned and non-commissioned. The rank of each Kenya Army member determines their salaries as soldiers are paid according to their ranks. Under the commissioned Army category, the General is the highest-paid officer while under the non-commissioned category, the Warrant Officer 1 is the highest-paid officer.

Kenya Army is a place for disciplined, courageous, dedicated, and hardworking officers. There is no room for indiscipline among soldiers irrespective of the rank they possess. Everyone is held accountable and will be punished or compensated according to their actions. As already stated, the General is the most senior ranking officer in the Kenyan Army, while the Private is the most junior ranking soldier. In whatever position you find yourself, respect and integrity matter, and with consistency in work, one will climb the ladder of promotion and ranks.

Kenya Army Ranks

Non-commissioned Officers

Non-commissioned officers are mostly known as junior officers because they joined the KDF through massive recruitment. This group of officers are usually at the forefront of any mission embarked on by the Kenyan army. The drilling of these officers usually takes some months in which they undergo various training like weapon handling and maintenance, rescue, special warfare, and many more. It takes extra hard work and long years of dedication to the service to attain high ranks as non-commissioned officers. The following are the ranks that fall under this category:

4. Private

The Private is a minor rank, mostly given to officers who completed Phase 1 of the Kenya Defense Forces training school program. This phase 1 program is regarded as the elementary aspect of the KDF training program.

3. Lance Corporal

An Army officer attains the role of a Lance Corporal after serving for three years in the Kenya Defence Force or completes the Phase 2 program. Anyone in this position is entitled to work with a section that is made up of about four soldiers.

2. Corporal

It is the rank for officers that have served for at least three years and must have crossed the second phase of the Kenya Defense Forces training program. Corporal is the second to the very last rank in the Kenyan army ranking structure.

1. Sergeant

This rank holds a minor phase of responsibility as they now have junior officers they advise and order. An officer can attain this position after giving out at least 12 years of service in the army. A sergeant is the second person in charge of a platoon of 35 soldiers, giving orders without the senior sergeant. Three ranks are under the rank of a Sergent, and they are as follows:

    • Senior Sergeant

A Senior Sergeant can also be called a Colour of Staff Sergeant. It is attainable after two years of serving under a Senior Sergent as a Sergent. Having this rank gives you the authority over a platoon or troop to instruct and direct them. The Senior Sergeant manages equipment and soldiers of about 120.

    • Warrant Officer II

The Warrant Officer 11 can fetch one a seat around in the office of a Major in charge of a section of an Army unit. Any officer can earn this rank by focusing on training, discipline, and good records in service. The position is also in charge of at least 120 soldiers.

    • Warrant Officer I

A Warrant Officer1 is charged with the duties of a senior adviser to the unit commanding officer. He also wears the responsibility of discipline, leading, and caring for six hundred and fifty soldiers and their operating pieces of equipment. The rank is earned after extraordinary, exemplary service of eighteen years in the Army.

Commissioned Officers

This category of officers started their military journey from the Kenya Military Academy (KMA) in Lanet, Nakuru County. They start as military cadets and can rise up to the level of a General. Below are the lists of the ranks of commissioned officers under the Kenyan Army:

11. Cadet

The Cadet is a junior officer rank in the Kenyan commissioned officers ranking structure. It is earned immediately after one finishes training at Lanet.

10. Second Lieutenant

This rank of the Army can be attained after two years of graduating from the Kenya Military Academy. A Second Lieutenant undergoes a series of professional training and specialized military courses, lasting up to three years. An officer in this position commands up to 30 soldiers in a platoon during activity or even in operation.

9. Lieutenant

This rank is earned when an officer has given out three to five years of dedicated service to the Army. The Lieutenant is given the responsibility of thirty soldiers from a platoon.

8. Captain

A Captain is the second in command controlling about one hundred and twenty soldiers in a sub-unit. He must have served up to six years, bearing planning and decision-making responsibilities of tactical on-ground operations, management of equipment, workforce, logistic supports on his shoulders, before earning the post.

7. Major

This rank is attained after giving out at least eight to ten years of service to the Army. A Major is a commander of a sub-unit of at least 120 non-commissioned soldiers and commissioned officers. He is in charge of the administrative welfare, management of equipment, and training of the sub-unit for operations.

6. Lieutenant Colonel

The Lieutenant Colonel is a senior ranking position in the commissioned officers’ ranking structure. Anyone in the place gets to command about four to five sub-units of about six hundred and fifty commissioned and non-commissioned officers. The Lieutenant Colonel sees to the operational readiness through character and military capability of men under his command.

5. Colonel

The Colonel is seen as the lowest in the staff ranks. This means that he is not a field commander but a staff officer at the brigade or battalion level of command.

4. Brigadier

The Brigadier is a senior rank that takes the responsibility of a brigade. They can also be referred to as a staff director in the command chain.

3. Major General

A Major General is an officer in control of a division. They are also known as two-star generals who are mainly in charge of senior staff appointments and promotions. The KDF can promote anyone in this rank to a service commander role if they achieve greatness in the position.

2. Lieutenant General

The Lieutenant General is primarily in charge of the corps-sized formation of the service.

1. General

The General is the highest-ranking military officer in the army ranking structure. He can hold a position like Vice Chief of Defence, an appointment by the president approved by the senate. A single person controls this position at a time.

The Salaries Of Each Kenya Army Soldier and Their Ranks

Every Kenyan government agency has a stipulated salary structure deemed for amendment by the Salary and Remuneration Commission of Kenya (SRC). The army doesn’t have a separate salary structure review; it is done jointly as Kenya Defence Force salary review. This review is conducted mainly every four years, with the last review in 2017, and the next in 2021. It was also noted that there was an increase of 2.5 billion in the salary of Kenya Defence Forces in 2019. The rise will favorably affect the wages of the army, which is a part of the Kenya Defence Forces. Below is the Kenya Army ranks and salaries

  • A Private in the army takes a monthly salary of KSh19,941 – KSh30,000.
  • A Lance Corporal earns KSh26,509 – KSh50,000.
  • A Corporal is entitled to Ksh32,250 – KSh70,000 as a monthly salary.
  • A Sergeant earns Ksh35,000 monthly.
  • Captains are recorded to have a salary base of Ksh73,182 – KSh110,000 per month.
  • Majors earn Ksh102,106 – KSh150,000 every month as salary.
  • Lieutenant Colonels pocket Ksh130,735 – KSh180,000 monthly.
  • Colonels enjoy a monthly salary of Ksh153,317 – KSh300,000.
  • Brigadiers are paid Ksh171,509 as a monthly salary.
  • Major Generals take home Ksh370,000 monthly as a salary
  • Lieutenant Generals are paid Ksh632,984 – KSh 800,000 as a monthly salary.
  • The Chief of Defense Forces is paid Ksh894,897 – KSh 1million per month.

Incentives Enjoyed by Officers of The Kenyan Army

Apart from salaries, there are other stipulated allowances for officers of the Kenyan army. Though the allowances are not static, officers enjoy some incentives from the government from time to time. The officers of the Kenya Army deployed on foreign missions receive a daily allowance of Ksh5,000 to Ksh10,000. The following are some significant incentives the officers gain in the service.

  • A new recruit in the Kenya Army pockets allowances up to KSh7,172 monthly, while a Cadet receives KSh11, 852, and an Officer Cadet receives KSh24,520 monthly.
  • They receive a 50% discount on the selling price of commodities in the barracks. For instance, a bag of rice worth Ksh200 will be bought for half the price by any officer in the barrack. The government takes care of the other 50% of the cost of such items in the barracks.
  • Free Housing: The officers in the barracks also enjoy zero-cost accommodation. This enables them to be closer to their duty and more dedicated to the service.
  • Zero Cost on Utility Bills: Officers in the Kenyan Army enjoy free water supply, electricity, and other utility services. The costs of these utility bills are taken care of by the government.
  • Zero Tax Charges: The income of officers in the Kenya Army is free of any tax. The government gives this advantage to the officers’ role in protecting the territorial boundaries of the country.
  • Health Insurance Scheme: The officers in service and their families are covered under this insurance scheme. This is a means of ensuring the safety of an officer’s health and that of his family. The Defence Forces Medical Insurance Scheme coordinates the health insurance scheme. The scheme gives free medical assistance to officers’ wives during child delivery and covers their children’s treatment.

It is noteworthy that the health insurance scheme also covers overseas treatment. But there are procedures to ensure that this is done. The following are procedures to follow when you have an overseas medical treatment:

  1. As a member of the Kenya Army, you are to forward a letter to the Defense Force Medical Insurance Scheme, attaching the following documents:
    • A letter of Medical overseas treatment transfer from the current doctor handling the patient. It is also known as the 1st opinion letter.
    • A letter from a medical consultant specialized in such a medical case. The letter is also known as the 2nd opinion expert advice.
    • The last document will come from the overseas admitting hospital. Also known as the 3rd opinion comment from admitting hospital.

2. The Defence Force Medical Insurance Scheme will prepare a briefing to the Assistant Chief of Defence Forces handling matters relating to personnel and logistics. The briefing will be to raise a Medical Advisory Committee Meeting.

    • The meeting will come to a conclusion which dey will revert to DEFMIS.
    • If any part of the officer’s request is not granted, they will also communicate with the officer.
    • The approved part that the body that will fund will be sent to the trust fund.
    • The trust fund will now pay the overseas hospital.
    • The officer will be cleared to move for the treatment.
  1. Authorization of the medical treatment depends on the urgency of the medical case. If it is not urgent, the medical treatment authorization can take up to a month for clearance.

Note: DEFMIS and the Trust Deed cannot forward refunds of overseas treatment that didn’t go through authorization.

How To Join The Kenya Army

Kenya Defence Force is an organ of the military that recruits and trains men of the Kenya Army, Navy, and Air Force. Successful candidates join their respective branches of the army as non-commissioned officers. They conduct yearly recruitment exercises for applicants that show interest. The Kenya Defence Forces also house the cadet officers training school, known as the Kenya Military Academy. The academy produces men and women of the armed forces with specialties in diverse fields. Graduates of the Kenya Military Academy are regarded as commissioned officers. The following are requirements for recruitment into Kenya Army:

  • The candidate must be a citizen of Kenya.
  • They must have crossed the age of 18.
  • There must be no criminal records.
  • The candidate must be above 5 ft and 3 inches.
  • They should weigh above 54.55kg for males and above 50kg for females.
  • No pregnancy is allowed for female applicants.

Applicants are expected to write an application showing their interest in joining the Kenya Army under the umbrella of the Kenya Defence Force. Applicants are also required to attach relevant professional certificates if the position they are applying for demands it. All documents are to be submitted to the address below.

Assistant Chief of the Defence Forces(Personnel and Logistics)
Ministry of Defence,
Defense Headquarters,
Ulinzi House.
P.O.Box 40668_00100

The Kenya Defence Forces use the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education to evaluate the educational qualification of non-commissioned officers of the Kenya army. The Force takes nothing less than grade D in the Kenya certificate of secondary education. A bachelor’s degree and membership with a recognized professional body can fetch an applicant a better position in the officers’ category of the Kenya Armed Forces.


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