Those close to Lieutenant-Colonel Damaris Agnetta, who has been picked by President William Ruto as his deputy Aide-de-Camp (ADC), says she is a very hard working and reliable military officer.
According to a statement by President Ruto’s senior communications aide Emmanuel Tallam, Agnetta will assist Colonel Fabian Lengusuranga of the Kenya Army, who is the new Aide-de-Camp, replacing Tmothy Lekolool who has been promoted to teh rank of Brigadier.
Martin Kamau, a Security analyst told ksnmedia that Agnetta becomes only the second woman in Kenya’s history to hold the coveted position.
“She is known to be a reliable officer who can not fail the head of State,” said Kamau, who is a retired military officer.
“The president has many other aides but it is very important be as comfortable as he can be having an ADC or the deputy around him,” he said.
Agnetta is expected to, occasionally, stand in for Lengusuranga when the first ADC will either be on leave or off-duty.
Others wondered whether an ADC is still relevant in this day and age.
“Ni wa nini?” Wondered K’oduor Onyango. “Hukaa fake sana,” he added.
In Kenya, the president has the liberty to choose his or her Aide-de-Camp.
To qualify, one has to be a member of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF).
Conel Esater Wanjiru, the Spokesperson of KDF, says contrary to popular belief, the Aide-de-Camp is not a bodyguard or personal assistant to the Head of State.
“The Aide-de-Camp’s roles include managing the president’s diary and liaising with his or her main security team,” Wanjiku told The Standard.
“The Defence Council can propose an Aide-de-Camp to the president, who has the last say on his preferred serviceman for the role,” she added.
According to available records, the Assistant Aide-de-Camp, currently serving President Ruto, Damaris Agnetta was commissioned in 2003, and has been serving as the artillery officer. She has also served in the United Nations Military Observer Mission.
Second female ADC
Being in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, Agnetta has five more ranks in the hierarchy to reach the summit of military leadership.
The five superior ranks are Colonel, Brigadier, Major-General, Lieutenant-General and General. In the military, there can only be one General at every given time, and the holder of the rank usually serves as the Commander of the Defence Forces. Kenya has never had a female General. The current General is Robert Kibochi.
President Kenyatta oversaw a historical moment on August 17, 2018, when he appointed Nduta as Kenya’s first female Aide-De-Camp.
Rachel Nduta, a Lieutenant-Colonel at the time, was picked by the Head of State to serve as the Assistant Aide De Camp, deputising Timothy Lekolool.
Functions of Aide-de-Camp
“Aide-De-Camp” is a term borrowed from the French language.
Its literal meaning is “helper in the military camp”.
The holder of the position serves as an aide to a VVIP, in most cases a Head of State or Monarch.
Simiyu Werunga, the Executive Director for Geneva Centre for Africa Security, says that all Kenyan Aides-de-Camp held at least the rank of Colonel.
“Unlike the position of the Chief of Defence Forces, which rotates among senior military officers of the Kenya Navy, Kenya Air Force or the Kenya Army, the Aide-de-Camp’s background is immaterial when the president is selecting the serviceman for that position,” said Werunga.
An ADC is a highly-trained senior military officer, who is required to be part of the president’s itinerary at all times.
The holder of the position mostly performs ceremonial duties.
Besides the ceremonial tasks such as standing behind the president and opening car doors for the Head of State, an Aide-de-Camp in Kenya has other duties.
For instance, during Uhuru Kenyatta’s tenure, Lekolool was the detail leader, assistant detail leader, tactical commander, motorcade lead, advance lead, mobile agent, static agent and protective intelligence agent.