Ruto new aide struggles to learn ropes in tasking role

Thursday, October 13th, 2022 07:30 | By
President William Ruto’s new aide-de-camp, Col Fabian Lengusuranga, dons a brown uniform from the white synonymous with his predecessor, Timothy Lekolool. PHOTO/Courtesy

The conduct of President William Ruto’s new Aide de Camp (ADC), Col Fabian Lengusuranga has been the subject of public banter with his critics saying he was taking a bit long to learn the ropes of the game.

However, his defenders have been quick to point out that the paratrooper was on the right track given that his training has no ceremonial input required for the new job.

Military experts who spoke to People Daily argued that the role has not been a walk in the park even for his predecessors. While some say that his mien has been rather “lacklustre mien” others maintain that it does not in any way compromise the security of the Head of State.

In the last two weeks, some photos and videos of the current and former President William Ruto’s aide-de-camps have gone viral on social media, sparking debates.

In one of the videos, former ADC Brigadier Timothy Stelu Lekolool is captured literally running to catch up with the President.

Judging by the location and people around President Ruto, it was clear there was no any threat at all but that notwithstanding, the former ADC on realising that the President was steps ahead of him, literally ran and moved as close as possible.

Far from President

Colonel  Lengusuranga, has also been captured in some cases, casually walking metres away from the President.

In one of the photos at the airport when President Ruto jetted back into the country from Tanzania, the ADC was at one point captured steps away from the President who was accompanied by the Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, CDF Robert Kibochi and Foreign Affairs CS nominee Alfred Mutua.

Among those who have criticised the ADC is lawyer Donald Kipkorir who on Tuesday said the President needed to replace him.

“All basic military training teach how to walk: erect with chin up. And an ADC or Parade Commander must have his steps be in sync with the Commander in Chief. This Colonel missed basic marching drills,” Kipkorir wrote.

However, according to Bryon Adera, a pioneer and former 30 Kenya Special Forces Officer, who is also a security consultant, the new ADC is one of the most qualified senior officers. He adds that most of the critics may not understand what the job entails and the accolades the new ADC has to his name.

“Though he stands close to the President, an ADC’s duties are largely ceremonial. They are to provide honour and dignity to the Head of State,” he said.

According to Adera, Colonel Lengusuranga comes from special operations, and not ceremonial, background and will learn the ropes in the next few days.

“The Paras are hardly “ceremonial” and, I’d see why he’s finding it hard, albeit by a small percentage, to fit flawlessly into this role. When we joined the Paras, Colonel Lengusuranga was the unit’s adjutant and I know him as a very professional, neat and overly strict officer,” Adera said.

Other members of the public claim the apparent lack of coordination could partly be attributed to the fact that President Ruto is agile and very energetic.

Another retired military Major said those were normal growing pains of any officer assigned a completely new role.

“Even Brigadier Lekolool did not have it easy when he started. Looks can be deceptive. The apparently lackluster officer is a well-trained officer from the Kenya Army’s Special Forces,” he said.

Security expert and former General Service Unit (GSU) officer George Musamali said operatives from specialized units are normally too self-conscious and public shy by virtue of their training.

“They are never good in overt operations and duties. They may not be a good choice for ADC but perform exceptionally well as close protection officers,” he said.

“This man is not trained to stand behind another human being. He is a fighting machine,” he added.

The ADC is, however, not a security officer or bodyguard. He stands behind the President in official functions both within and outside the country in assisting on matters of security, protocol, and military tradition. He also extends this closeness to the president’s close family as well, and beyond, works closely with the head of presidential escort unit that’s primarily charged with the president’s security.

According to experts, the ADC has to be the Jack of All Trades to be successful. Every President has a different personality, energy and different expectations about what their ADC is supposed to do.

This would require that the ADC be always alert and next to the President in case he may need help or want an information passed to other quarters. However, though the ADC is expected to be always behind the President, it becomes tricky when the First Lady is walking behind the President.

The ADC however works very closely with the Presidential Escort commander who is directly responsible for the president and his family’s security.

Ceremonial duties

Other functions include escorting the head of state out of State House into his car, opening the door, carrying President’s personal items like speeches and mobile phones and even receiving gifts on behalf of the president.

The Colonel, an alumnus of Starehe Boys Centre, is from the Kenya Army’s Special Operations Regiment. The paratrooper has almost in his entire career been involved in operations and not ceremonial duties.

According to the Defence headquarters, Col Lengusuranga is a decorated military officer who was commissioned in 1999. He was the best all round Cadet officer that year. He later pursued a degree in Military Science at Egerton University.

His last appointment was to deputise the command of Army’s Special Operations Brigade, that the 20 Parachute Regiment (his mother unit) is amongst.

Col Lengusuranga was appointed on October 3 and replaced Brig Lekolool who has been redeployed to the Department of Defence (DoD) headquarters.

Col. Lengusuranga first public assignment was on October 4 when he accompanied President Ruto to Nyeri where the head of state had gone to attend the burial of the brother to the Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

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