Ceremonial parades are the basis for Military discipline, pride, customs, traditions and etiquette. The Kenya Defence Forces inherited its military ceremonies from the British Forces and continue to borrow heavily from the English customs to date. A Ceremony Parade, impeccably performed, can never fail to be a source of inspiration to those who watch it or take part in it. The aim of drill is to produce a soldier who is proud, alert and obedient in order to provide the basis of team work. It is the noblest and proudest form of drill. Based on the 'blunt whetstone' of drill instruction to recruits it was for many hundreds of years the foundation of battle discipline in all Armies. Vegetius in AD 378, wrote troops who march in an irregular and disorderly manner are always in great danger of being defeated.

Today, once the elements of discipline have been instilled through drill on the parade square, it develops, naturally, into various forms of crew drill, gun drill and battle drill, but the aim of discipline remains unchanged. This aim is the conquest of fear. Drill helps to achieve this because when it is carried out men tend to lose their individuality and are unified into a group under obedience to orders.

If men are to give their best in war they must be united. Discipline seeks through drill to instill into all ranks this sense of unity, by requiring them to obey orders as one man. A Ceremonial Parade, Moreover, provides an occasion for men to express pride in their performance, pride in their Regiment or Corps and pride in the profession of Arms.


Guards of Honour (GOH) fall into various categories as enumerated below:

  • Tri-Service Guard of Honour
  • Single Service Guard of Honour
  • Troops in Line
  • Half Guard
  • Trooping of the Colour
  • Quarter Guard
His Excellency the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta inspects a Guard of Honour mounted by Kenya Defence Forces at Nyayo stadium during Mashujaa day on 20th October 2013.



Tri-Service Guard of Honour comprises personnel from the three Services (Army, Air Force and Navy). The Commander of such a parade is a Lt Col/Commanding Officer from the lead service which provides the full guard. It is reserved for celebrations of National Days only. Examples include Madaraka and Jumhuri days. On both occasions his Excellency the President and Commander in Chief(C-in -C) of Defence Forces is the Guest of Honour and other foreign Heads of States may be invited.


The parade is reserved for the Head of State/Head of Government, or a visiting Head of State/ Government or other State Ceremonies when ordered to do so. A single Service guard is internationally recognized and commonly mounted to welcome/see off visiting Heads of States and Government or on occasions when the President and C-in-C of Defence Forces is being received or welcomed back from a foreign visit. A Guard of Honour (GOH) for the President will not be mounted before 0600 hrs or after 1800 hrs. or on Sundays.


Troops in line comprises of one Officer and twenty (20) ORS who line on either side of the passage of the dignitary in Present Arms position. This ceremony will be mounted when the President and C in C returns from a working visit within COMESA Region or when a foreign Head of State/Head of Government is on a working visit.


Half Guard comprises of not more than 50 personnel, 2 officers and a band. It is mounted for receiving foreign Chiefs of Defence Forces (CDF), Chief of Air Staff, and Chief of Navy Staff on an official visit to any formation of the three Services or on other occasions subject to the approval of the Defence Council.


The practice of trooping the Colour originated in an old Guard Mounting Ceremony at which The Queen's Colour was the symbol of the Sovereign and of the Country; the Regimental Colour, the emblem of the soldiers of the Regiment. During Trooping, every man has a close view of the Colour whilst paying the highest possible honour by presenting Arms in salute. The whole ceremony is one of symbolic trust and reverence. In Kenyan Context, the Trooping of the Colour ceremony normally takes place in Nairobi on 12 December of every year. The day is marked with a Tri-Service Guard of Honour composed of less than 200 personnel, 13 officers, band and colour. In case of a new unit the unit in question will be presented with its colours (Presidential and Regimental) by the Commander- in-Chief which they troop the same day.


Quarter guard is mounted when there is any visiting Officer from the rank of Brigadier to General. It will be commanded by a Sergeant, one NCO (Cpl) and 12 Soldiers, a sentry and a bugler.

Quarter guard matching off. The former Chief of Defence Forces Gen J M Kianga inspecting a quarter guard at Kapenguria camp in 2006. Quarter mounted for Army Commander at camp Assab Eritrea.



Official Opening of Parliament is marked by a single service guard of honour drawn from any of the service.

His Excellency the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta salutes the Guard of Honour mounted by the Kenya Army at Parliament buildings during the official state opening of the 11th Parliament on 16th April 2013.



Gun Salutes are supposed to be given on the occasions of swearing in of the President and the C in C of Defence Forces, when a visiting President or Head of a foreign Government visits the country for the first time since assuming office or during the burial of a Head of State or for serving senior military officers (from Maj Gens and above).


The former Army Commander, Lt Gen Njoroge, presented medals to officers and servicemen of the Kenya Army ...................more

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