RAF Puma helicopters in Kenya on Exercise Askari Storm

What Are British Troops Doing In Kenya?

RAF Puma helicopters in Kenya on Exercise Askari Storm

RAF Puma helicopters in Kenya in 2011 (Picture: MOD).

The Defence Secretary has paid a visit to Africa – his first time on the continent.

Gavin Williamson landed in Nairobi, Kenya, making his first stop at the British Peace Support Team in Karen, on the outskirts of the city.

Based in Nanyuki, 200 km north of Nairobi, is British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK).

A small part of BATUK is in Nairobi and the unit provides training to units about to deploy on operations or high-readiness tasks.

BATUK is made up of 100 permanent staff and reinforcing short tour cohort of another 280 personnel.

Royal Engineer exercises also take place, involving civil engineering projects, and medical deployments; the latter providing health care assistance to civilians.

Britain funds around 30% of the training courses that run at the International Peace Support Training Centre, ranging from disposal of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), to promoting females in peacekeeping roles.

It is this training, and the difficulties women face in conflict, that the Defence Secretary has as a priority.

Mr Williamson then flew north to Nanyuki, where the British Army has trained around six times a year for the last ten years on eight-week-long exercises.

The battlegroup exercises take place across a 79,000-hectare ranch, however there have been concerns that the contract with its owners would not be renewed.

Africa deployments map
The British military has deployments across 11 African countries, working on a range of missions.

After a meeting with Kenya’s Defence Minister, Gavin Williamson confirmed to land managers that licences were being renewed.

This was a flying visit for the Defence Secretary, though his African adventure continues beyond Kenya to Somalia and Ethiopia.

Building Britain's Relationships

By Laura Makin-Isherwood, Westminster correspondent, Forces News

Gavin Williamson Kenya Helicopter

Building and maintaining relationships has been the focus for the Defence Secretary on this trip.

As well as exploring areas of Kenya that British troops live and work in, he met with his Kenyan counterpart to secure licencing agreements for battlegroup exercises to continue in the country.

Thousands of personnel and their families have made their lives in east Africa promoting peace.

The Defence Secretary made no secret of the fact he wants British influence in this area to spread further across the continent.

WATCH: Gavin Williamson says protecting women from violence in conflict is important to him.