General Service Unit (GSU) Kenya

KENYA POLICE GENERAL SERVICE UNIT (GSU)

Kenya's paramilitary General Service Unit GSU is a specialized wing of the Kenya Police Service that consists of elite Police Officers and Special Forces Soldiers who are highly trained locally and abroad in highly regarded military training facilities. The force currently has around 9000 active personnel.

A GSU Officer
GSU was created way back in the 1940s during Kenya's independence struggle from British rule. The colonial government in 1948 formed a specially trained fighting unit to quell uprisings and revolts from Africans fighting for independence that was known as the Emergency Company or Regular Police Reserve. 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.

Today, the General Service Unit is a secret service which little is known about and even within Kenya's security establishment, the real significance of the GSU is a tightly kept secret. According to the Kenya Police Service, the objectives of the GSU are to deal with situations affecting internal security throughout Kenya, to be an operational force not intended for use on duties of a permanent static nature and primarily  be a reserve force to deal with special operations & civil disorders. The GSU is dreaded by the public because of their no-nonsense approach to civil disorder and Kenyans have christened them Fanya Fujo Uone (FFU) which loosely translates cause fracas and have yourself to blame for what shall happen in the aftermath. The GSU is the Governments painful answer to civil unrest, riots, unruly political mobs and tribal skirmishes.

GSU officers dispersing rioters
The General Service Unit has in the past conducted numerous successful operations not just in Kenya but also within East, Central and Horn of Africa regions and it continues to do so in the present. The GSU being very secretive, little is known about its operations but three of its most notable operations are; the 1961 Zanzibar Uprising where GSU were for the first time deployed outside Kenya to Zanzibar to deal with civil unrest which took them only 2 days to restore normalcy, the second operation is the Shifta War of 1963-1969 when Somali people of Kenya's Northern Frontier District attempted to secede and join Somalia and the 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. Currently GSU commandos are on the front lines alongside their comrades from the Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia in a successful operation against Alshabaab a terrorist militant group which is said to have links with Al Qaeda. 

The GSU is not just a formation like any other within the Kenya Police Service, it has four major companies 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. The four major companies of the GSU are:
  1. GSU Headquarters Company the central command of the General Service Unit
  2. GSU Training School in Embakasi responsible for training recruits transforming them into Commandos
  3. GSU Recce Company based in Ruiru which is a hardened battle force consisting of about 2000 special forces soldiers
  4. GSU G Company  mandated with providing security to the President, State Houses and State Lodges. It has posts in all State Houses & Lodges
To be recruited into the General Service Unit, young Kenyan citizens who are fit and healthy must attend a joint nationwide Kenya National Police service recruitment exercise after its announcement by the Government. Those selected to enlist are then sent to the GSU training school in Embakasi for Commando training. Initially, the GSU was for men only but nowadays it also recruits women.

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