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How Kenya’s Slain CDF Francis Ongolla Raised Through The Ranks

How Kenya’s Slain CDF Francis Ongolla Raised Through The Ranks

Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Francis Ogolla tragically lost his life in a helicopter accident in the Sindar area of Elgeyo Marakwet County on Thursday, just a year after assuming the position. President William Ruto elevated General Ogolla to the rank of General and appointed him as the head of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in April the previous year, succeeding General Robert Kibochi upon his retirement due to reaching the mandatory exit age of 62.

General Ogolla’s selection followed the ‘Tonje Rules,’ a rotational system governing the CDF’s appointment. President Ruto was obliged to appoint Ogolla, who was then the Kenya Air Force Commander, as the next CDF, as General Kibochi came from the Army, following General Samson Mwathethe from the Navy.

Born on February 12, 1962, in Siaya County, General Ogolla joined the KDF as a cadet in May 1984, eventually becoming a second lieutenant and undergoing pilot training at Moi Air Base. His career included notable roles such as Commanding Officer of Laikipia Air Base Tactical Flight Wing (2007) and Base Commander of Laikipa Air Base (2008-2014).

Promoted to Brigadier in April 2012, he later served as Deputy Air Force Commander before becoming Commander of the Kenya Air Force in July 2018. Ogolla was then promoted to Lieutenant General on July 23, 2021, and appointed Vice Chief of the Defence Forces until his promotion to General and appointment as CDF on April 28, 2023.

Educated at the École Militaire de Paris and the National Defence College of Kenya, Ogolla also held diplomas in International Studies and Military Science from Egerton University, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Armed Conflict, and Peace Studies, and a Masters of Arts in International Studies from the University of Nairobi. He had previously been honored with presidential awards such as Moran of the Golden Heart (MGH), Elder of the Burning Spear (EBS), and a Head of State Commendation.

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