To be located in the Horn of Africa is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because it is an excellent strategic location with major trade sea lanes and land routes. It’s also near to oil-rich Arabian Peninsula. Thus, it has become an area of global competition for influence by the US and China. This however prompted conflict in the region. The region is notorious for its volatility as rocked by recurrent violence and terrorism. The presence of Al-Shabab, Al-Qaida, and other insurgent groups has obstructed development, democracy, and peaceful life in general.
Ethiopia has so far been a relatively peaceful country from this region hosting the largest number of refugees from the region and elsewhere. Among other reasons, Ethiopia’s relative peace can majorly be attributed to its military capability. The Ethiopian army was effective for long in foiling plots of several terrorist groups. It is also supporting regional and international peace by taking part in different peacekeeping missions. Even very recently, Ethiopian troops have received appreciation for their role in the peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Consequently, Ethiopia seeks to sustain this prestige and of course ensure peace and stability in the country to realize sustainable prosperity.
As is the primary task of government is protecting citizens and properties, it is vital to be engaged in the progressive work of building a strong army. The national defense should always be in a capacity to protect civilians, their properties and safeguard the nation from terrorist attacks or foreign aggression. Equal to shielding citizens, protecting the country’s interests, or foiling evil intentions and acts of terrorists, the formidable army also means having strong bargaining power. It strengthens economic negotiating posture with allies and negotiating posture with adversaries. So given its challenging location and internal conflicts, it would be logical for Ethiopia to build a strong army that comprises several well-trained standby soldiers, having modern guns and artillery. In addition to being ready to effectively respond to attacks, the military preparation would give the nation bargaining power in political and economic negotiations.
Since the change, the Ethiopian military has undergone several reforms that made it far disciplined and loyal to the Ethiopian people and government. It has foiled several attempts of terrorist groups to incite violence, chaos, sabotage developmental activities, and in general undermine the legitimacy of government.
The Ethiopian army has so far been tested in various instances such as violence in the Somali State, recurrent incidents in Oromia, Amhara State, and Benishangul-Gumuz Regional States. The army has been effective in bringing back stability to these regions through their remain activities to realize lasting peace and stability. In addition to this, the army is in action now fighting the terrorist group, TPLF. So, building the army further would be critical to dismantle the terrorist group and make the army ready for foreign aggressors or terrorist groups.
Ethiopian people’s solidarity played an irreplaceable role along with many missions of the defense force. Army generals and other ranking soldiers in the army have given their testimony on many occasions. The support and solidarity have now reached a new level as youths are joining the army. As veteran soldiers returned to inactive fight or to training new soldiers, youths have continued registering and getting basic combat training. Following the call of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, youths have packed military schools such as Birr Sheleko Basic Military Training School, Hurso Contingent Training School, Tolay Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Blate Special Operation Training Center, and others and are getting basic military training before heading to the front.
Hurso Contingent Training School has already graduated for two rounds. At the third round, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who is also Commander in Chief of Armed Forces was a guest of honor. Speaking to graduate soldiers, Premier Abiy said military operations and offensiveness over the last months practically show that Ethiopia is still a country of brave sons and daughters ready to give their lives for her sovereignty. He called for wisdom, unity, and determination to overcome the circumstances that terrorist TPLF brought to the country.
During the occasion graduating soldiers told ENA that the presence of PM Abiy will encourage them to enhance their commitment to sacrifice for sovereignty and national integrity of their motherland.
Tolay Noncommissioned Officer Academy has also graduated several troops in army basic training. Among the graduates, some troops will be enlisted in the Air Force of the National Defense Forces (ENDF). Addressing the graduation ceremony, the head of the human resource department at the ENDF, Major General Hachalu Shalama said the terrorist TPLF will be vanquished for good soon in joint counterattacks being carried out by the national army and regional special forces.
While in a graduation ceremony of conscripts, General Bacha Debele indicated Ethiopian army preparation isn’t just for agents of proxy war but to those who are deploying them against Ethiopia.
Ethiopian Prime Minister has also signaled the recent recruitment of soldiers isn’t entirely to destroy TPLF but it has further goals of establishing a strong army that would realize unity, territorial integrity, and prosperity of the nation. TPLF would be a punching bag that new trainees get experience skills.
Going to one of the very fronts of the war, Mai Tsebri where the Ethiopian army securing significant victory, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed disclosed the Ethiopian army’s emerging capability and its vision. The Premier emphasized the army would be very strong that the nation never have seen for the last 100 years. “ We are building a very modern national defense that has never been possible for the last 100 years. You would see everything at its level when the time comes. Our air force will have a capacity more than it has the past forty years. We are working and yielding fruit. Commando, Sparta, airborne and other various segments of the army are also being built in different performances. This rogue will be our punch bag. We will use it as a punching bag and build a strong army. We will make it impossible to touch Ethiopia. We want to make this clear that they should think twice before touching Ethiopia. We are getting ready for peace and development. If anyone dares to harm Ethiopia, we will show our might like before. As Ethiopians are alive Ethiopia would never be defeated. We have pass down. ”
The prime minister said though diplomacy and cooperation are ways Ethiopia intends to pursue during disagreements, it would also be vital to have a formidable army to behave belligerent groups and guarantee law and order.
The formation of a formidable army not only could create peace, stability, and prosperity inside the country. It can also play a share in fighting terrorism and insurgencies across the region and support peacekeeping in the Horn of Africa, Africa, and the world in general.
BY KFLEEYESUS ABEBE
ETHIOPIAN HERALD 24 SEPTEMBER 2021