General Service Unit - Kenya Police

The General Service Unit (GSU), is a specialized paramilitary wing of the Kenya Police Service. The force consists of elite police officers and special forces soldiers who are well trained in highly regarded military training facilities both within Kenya and abroad. Due to the secretive nature of the GSU, the exact number of personnel in the force is unknown. 

GSU's origin can be traced way back to the 1940s during Kenya's independence struggle from British rule. The colonial government in 1948 formed a specially trained fighting unit known then as the Emergency Company, to quell uprisings and revolts from African freedom fighters. In 1953, the Emergency Company became the General Service Unit and in 1957 it was further re-organized into a fully fledged police formation and brought under its first commandant Superintendent of Police (SP) S.G Thompson who is credited for making the GSU what it is today.

A GSU Commando

Today, the General Service Unit is a force to be reckoned with. GSU officers are experts in all manner of security operations and the force as a whole is capable of being deployed in the event of war and to defend Kenya's sovereignty. Very little is known about the GSU and even within Kenya's security establishment, its real significance is a tightly kept secret. However, according to the Kenya Police Service, the objectives of the GSU is to deal with situations affecting internal security throughout the country, to be an operational force not intended for use on duties of a permanent static nature, and primarily to be a reserve force to deal with special operations & civil disorders. 

Their no-nonsense approach to civil disorders led to Kenyans giving them the alias FFU Fanya Fujo Uone, which loosely translates cause fracas and have yourself to blame for what shall happen in the aftermath. They are the Government's painful solution to civil unrest, riots, unruly political mobs and tribal skirmishes. The GSU has conducted numerous successful security operations not just in Kenya but also within East, Central, and Horn of Africa regions and continues to do so in the present. Three of GSU's most notable operations are; the 1961 Zanzibar Uprising where GSU was for the first time deployed outside Kenya to deal with civil unrest in Zanzibar and it only took them 2 days to restore normalcy.

GSU dispersing rioters

The second one is the Shifta War of 1963-1969 when ethnic Somalis of Kenya's Northern Frontier District attempted to secede and join Somalia, and the third most notable operation was the brave and heroic role that was played by the GSU during the infamous 1982 failed coup attempt by a group of Kenya Air Force soldiers. Most recently, commandos drawn from the General Service Unit are on the front lines in Somalia alongside their comrades from the Kenya Defence Forces in a military operation against the Alshabaab terrorist militant group.

There are four major companies in the General Service Unit which are further subdivided into twenty smaller companies distributed through-out the country depending on the security needs of the areas in which they are stationed. These four major companies are GSU Headquarters Company the central command of the General Service Unit; GSU Training School in Embakasi responsible for training recruits transforming them into paramilitary police; GSU Recce Company based in Ruiru which is a hardened battle force consisting of special forces soldiers; GSU G Company mandated with providing security to the President, State Houses, and State Lodges.

On how to be recruited into the General Service Unit, the Government announces a joint nationwide Kenya National Police service recruitment. Young fit and healthy Kenyan citizens who wish to join must attend the exercise. Successful candidates who are selected to enlist are then sent to the General Service Unit training school in Embakasi for intensive paramilitary training. Initially, the GSU was a men's only force but nowadays recruitment is open to women as well.

Credit Shout-Africa.


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