The response to the terrorist attacks on Westgate Shopping Mall in 2013 and Garissa University College in 2015 greatly exposed gaps that needed urgent fixing.
For keen observers, the response by security forces during the Dusit D2 hotel terror attack was more professional, well coordinated, quick and precise and though 21 lives were lost, more than 700 people were safely evacuated from the building complex and all the terrorists killed.
Although the anti-terrorism unit’s response to the Dusit D2 attack was swift and effective, a new but disturbing discovery of the attack was the fact that unlike the previous terror attacks in Kenya, this attack was planned, led and carried out entirely by Kenyans.
This discovery called for a quick response to a new, less understood but evolving terror tactic. The response to this new development was the formation of the Emergency Response Team (ERT) under the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) in June 2019, with well over one platoon of young energetic officers being headhunted for this endeavor.
To improve the capability of the unit to detect, combat and prevent terrorism in the country, the ERT team has undertaken various trainings crucial for offensive operations that enhance practicable capability in its
routine and emergent operational deployments, tactical skills that are both theoretical and practical.
These include 8 Advanced Tactics and many more.
- basic and advanced anti-terrorism courses,
- combat and sport shooting,
- radio communication,
- urban surveillance,
- sensitive site exploitation,
- casualty care and hostage evacuation.
With these skills at hand, expect less or barely zero terrorists attacks on Kenyan soil.
To promote team work, comradeship and strengthen the anti-terrorism fight, the team in partnership with other specialized counter-terrorism units that include the Special Program for Embassy Augmentation Response (SPEAR), RECCE and others across the disciplined forces carry out regular military manoeuvres that include intelligent and tactical approach in handling terror incidents.
These annual manoeuvres take several days and are usually witnessed by all top heads of the participating services and forces led by the commander-in-chief, the president of Kenya.
The key aim of this exercise is to nurture and cultivate the multi agency cooperation, achieve cooperation, achieve integration and harmonization of skills and benchmark the levels of preparedness of the various teams in reacting to security threats to the country.
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The Author is a journalist at kenyanvoice.co.ke Holder of a BSc in Communication and Public Relations from Oxford University (UK) and has over two years of experience in digital media and writing. Catch up with him on Twitter @duncan and on Facebook @duncan