War has always been an ugly thing, modern warfare more so because many times there are hardly any remains left to be buried. But the ugliest thing of all about war is that it is usually almost impossible to get to the truth of what really happened.
The winning side will never resist the temptation to exaggerate their victory many times over. And the losing side will never concede defeat and will always paint a much better picture of what really happened. Videos and pictures will be carefully edited to leave out their casualties while highlighting those of the enemy.
So for starters, anybody seeking the facts cannot trust anything said by either side. Guys that is the reality of war, anywhere on the planet since the beginning of time. And with good reason whatever anybody wants to say.
The recent attack on the KDF Kolbiyow base (just 18 short kilometres from the Kenyan border) is no exception.
In this article we shall stick to the facts and make our analysis based on ONLY the facts and without taking sides.
To start with perspective is extremely imperative for anybody to have a chance of making an accurate analysis of what really went down. And to get the right perspective here we must start with the numbers.
The attackers numbered about 550. The Kenyan base had just 123. And not all 123 were battle-hardened soldiers. In that number were support staff like engineers, technical support etc.
Clearly this must be the reason why al Shabaab chose this particular target in the first place. On the surface of things it looked like a pretty easy one, especially with 550 heavily armed personnel complete with suicide bombers. It is also important to note that recent attacks on Amisom soldiers in Somalia have not gone too well for al Shabaab and the terror group has suffered massive losses that even their clever publicity and social media propaganda has not been able to mask. Hardly surprising when you consider the fact that you are attacking professional soldiers and no matter how incompetent you think soldiers are (from Burundi for instance) they will always be better prepared for the next time.
Allow me to give you a little nugget from the previous El-Adde attack on a KDF base. The general story in the minds of most Kenyans is that al Shabaab just walked in and massacred defenseless KDF soldiers. What has never been revealed is that as an extra precaution the Kenyans had a hidden sniper position off camp that the terror group was not aware of. Unfortunately it was not enough to save the day but it took out numerous al Shaabab militants and cancelled what would have been an easy victory. But back to the present.
When you look at the Kolbiyow numbers the whole story immediately changes. Because we know for a fact that the terrorists did not take over the camp in spite of greatly outnumbering the defenders of the base. Journalists covering this attack focused on the number of casualties on the Kenyan side and trusted BBC even stated that KDF lost at least 50 soldiers. That number, they admitted, was quoted from what al Shabaab said.
Experts tell Kumekucha that even if this number is correct (all of them doubt it and speculate that less than 40 would be more accurate) then writing any story about a KDF defeat would be grossly inaccurate given the numbers of the attackers and the fact that they were repelled in the end. To stick to the facts without favour it is also true that the besieged Kolbiyow camp received outside help in reinforcements within good time and that is how the fighting extended for over a day.
However the real horror of Kolbiyow was how a big section of the terrorist militia were cornered and massacred by KDF forces mainly using heavy artillery. With help from the oldest trick in the book, the Kenyan soldiers made a tactical retreat which the militants misjudged and rushed in straight into a trap. Over 180 terrorists were ultimately killed in the fighting.
Currently there are stories circulating on the web about a major victory for KDF. In my view the true story is one of valor, bravery and tactical genius that saved lives and turned around a situation from what would have been a total disaster into a victory. Costly, but still a clear victory.
And that brings me to the other key story and what I am certain will be going through the mind of most Kenyans reading this post. And admittedly it is the main story here; What are Kenyan soldiers doing in Somalia? Why not withdraw them immediately to save Kenyan lives?
With the information I have, I often laugh at that naive conclusion and so-called solution to what is a complex issue. Let me confess to being familiar with this war for a very long time. Indeed unknown to most Kenyans it started in the 1960s albeit with the enemy having a different name then, but definitely the same enemy with the same intentions.
But that is a very sensitive story that the authorities have carefully kept under lock and key for reasons best known to them. However you can read it in great detail by subscribing to the Kumekucha intelligence group (simply send an email to;
email@example.com.) It is FREE.
For now what I must tell you (and this is another indisputable fact) is that believing that withdrawing from Somalia will save Kenyan lives is like the poor women students of Garissa univeristy (now deceased) who believed the al Shabaab militants when they were told that the group does not believe in harming women and they should therefore come out of hiding. They came out of hiding and you know what happened.
If the next Kenyan government withdraws from Somalia I assure you (ask any expert) that we will be jumping from the frying pan into the fire proper.