Rising From Ashes: How Kenyan Security Forces Learnt From Westgate Attack

Rising From Ashes: How Kenyan Security Forces Learnt From Westgate Attack
From a four day siege and sixty seven deaths to 20 hours and 21 casualties, this highlights the improvements Kenya has achieved in its anti-terrorism units. Well trained officers and a clear chain of command are what will be required in the continuing fight against terrorism.

During the 14 Riverside attack, Kenyan security forces showed up with elite units (the paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU), its special unit Recce squad, and a new US trained forced codenamed SPEAR.

However, the intervention of private security officials at the start of the siege averted more deaths. In 2013 during the Westgate massacre, foreign security officials were barred from the mall. This time Kenyan, American, and British special forces, together with private security worked together.

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Witnesses also report that this time, government teams were methodical and more organized than 2013, where it wasn't clear who was in charge. In Westgate, innocent individuals died from friendly fire from Kenyan forces.
The Kenyan army also reportedly went on a massive looting spree in Westgate, casting a doubt on their professionalism in times of disaster.

On 15th January at 14 Riverside, private security personnel delayed the gunmen just enough so that more firepower would arrive at the scene and help rescue more than 700 individuals trapped at the complex.

Reports indicate that a new unit trained under the U.S. Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response (SPEAR) was also key in this operation. Created in 2014, SPEAR trained units offers support during emergencies that involve American facilities and citizens. Funded by diplomatic security, these units exist in Iraq, Mauritania, Niger and other countries where militants threaten embassies and diplomacies allied to the US.

The SPEAR unit took charge as night fell in Nairobi. Working with other security professionals and medics, they worked through the night leading to the rescue of hundreds who were still trapped and the neutralization of the gunmen.

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