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Ethiopia Military


The Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) is one of the largest military forces in Africa along with Egypt and Morocco, 29th largest in the world.

Civil direction of the military is carried out through the Ministry of Defence. The MOD is the Ethiopian government ministry which oversees the ground, and air as well as military industry.

ENDF force sizes have recently varied considerably in light of the end of the war with Eritrea in 2000. In January 2007, during the war in Somalia, Ethiopian forces were said to be about 200,000 troops. This is down from the 252,000 estimated troops in 2002, which was roughly the same number maintained during the Derg regime that fell to the rebel forces in 1991. Since the early 1990s, the ENDF has been in transition from a rebel force to a professional military organisation with the aid of the United States and other countries. Training in de-mining, humanitarian and peace-keeping operations, professional military education, and military justice are among the major programs sponsored by the US.

The ENDF consists of the four branches Ground Forces, Air Force, Police and Militia. Being a landlocked country, Ethiopia today has no navy. However, Ethiopia acquired a coastline on the Red Sea in 1950 and created a navy in 1955. It operated until Eritrea's independence in 1991 left Ethiopia landlocked again.

The modern ENDF has a wide mix of equipment. Many of its major weapons systems stem from the Communist era and are of Soviet and Eastern bloc design.

The US was Ethiopia's major arms supplier from the end of World War II until 1977, when Ethiopia began receiving massive arms shipments from the Soviet Union. These shipments, including armoured patrol boats, transport and jet fighter aircraft, helicopters, tanks, trucks, missiles, artillery and small arms have incurred an unserviced Ethiopian debt to the former Soviet Union estimated at more than $3.5 billion.

Ethiopia has a several defence organisations that produce and overhaul different weapons systems. Most of these were built under the Derg regime which had plans for a large military industrial complex.

Ethiopia has served in various United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions. Thousands of Ethiopian peacekeepers are involved in the joint AU/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur, western Sudan. The Security Council authorised a UNAMID force of about 26,000 uniformed personnel. Ethiopian troops were also deployed in a peacekeeping mission at the Burundi border.


Military branches
Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) Ground Forces, Ethiopian Air Force (ETAF) (2008)
note Ethiopia is landlocked and has no navy; following the secession of Eritrea, Ethiopian naval facilities remained in Eritrean possession

Military service age and obligation
18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; theoretically, no compulsory military service, but the military can conduct call-ups when necessary and compliance is compulsory (2008)

Manpower available for military service
males age 16-49 17,666,967
females age 16-49 17,530,211 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service
males age 16-49 11,078,847
females age 16-49 12,017,073 (2009 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually
male 908,384
female 916,354 (2009 est.)

Military expenditures
3% of GDP (2006)





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