President Uhuru Kenyatta has praised the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) for their strategies in fighting Al-Shabaab, saying they have borne fruit after the terror group failed to carry out any major attack in the country over the last two years.
He said the troops in Somalia and those deployed to Boni Forest in Lamu County had been able neutralise the terrorist group's plans in Kenya and in the region.
Speaking during the passing-out parade at the military Recruits Training School in Eldoret, the President said KDF's presence in the two places has made the country safer.
"Our engagements have indeed degraded Al-Shabaab's ability to attack in Kenya and elsewhere," he said.
He said he is keen on protecting Kenya from any aggression by the group.
"Part of my duty as the commander-in-chief is protection of Kenyans and preservation of Kenya's integrity under the Constitution that is why I continue to laud the efforts of the Kenya Defence Forces in their fight against terrorism in Somalia and closer to home as part of the multi-agency force currently in Boni Forest," he added.
Kenya sent its troops to Somalia in 2011 following persistent attacks and kidnappings by Al-Shabaab militants.
Since then the group has successfully carried occasional attacks in Kenya although most have been restricted to counties bordering Somalia, the last being at Garissa University College in 2015 where 148 people were killed by gunmen linked to the militants.
The last major attack outside north eastern was at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in September 2013 when its members shot at customers killing dozens.
In 2017, the government deployed troops to Boni Forest to flush out a faction of the terror group that was said to have relocated there after being kicked out of Somalia.
While speaking in Eldoret, the President said efforts of those who have fought in defence of the country would not be forgotten.
"When this entire region is finally at peace, it will be because the men and women of this service fought bravely for peace, for prosperity and for freedom and equality under law," said the President.
Mr Kenyatta also paid tribute to those who have died in Somalia saying they paid the ultimate price while defending fellow Kenyans.
"I stand here today to say that these sons and daughters of Kenya have not fallen in vain. Their sacrifice for our freedom strengthens our resolve to fight the enemy and to destroy him once and for all," said the President.
SYMBOL OF NATIONHOOD
The Head of State pointed out that KDF remains a symbol of the country's nationhood and a leading example of its unity.
He said the force's unity and cohesion stand as proof of the greatness that can be achieved when all Kenyans live in harmony.
President Kenyatta therefore urged all Kenyans to emulate the example of the country's forces who serve the country selflessly and diligently.
"Its members are drawn from every community, every region and every religion of this nation," said the President.
Present were the Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo, Chief of Defence Forces Gen Samson Mwathethe, service commanders and other senior military and government officers.