The decision by the United States to grant Kenya the status of a Major Non-NATO Ally is a demonstration of trust in the nation’s military forces. However, this designation does not elevate the relationship to a formal military treaty.

This means that while the United States will provide military assistance to Kenya, it will not be obligated to intervene to assist Kenya if it is attacked by a foreign nation.

Member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have a legal obligation to support each other militarily against an adversary. NATO is the oldest military alliance in the world.

According to the U.S. Department of State, a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) enjoys the following benefits:

  1. Access to various military equipment loans.
  2. Can serve as a storage center for U.S. military weapons, in addition to hosting American military bases.
  3. Such a country can collaborate with the U.S. in providing military training.
  4. Companies of an MNNA are allowed by NATO member states to submit bids for repairing U.S. military equipment outside the United States.
  5. MNNA countries are eligible for funding for the purchase of explosive detection devices and other counterterrorism equipment.

Already, the United States operates a military base in the Manda area of Lamu County, on the Kenyan coast, which is used in its counterterrorism efforts in the region.