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Eritrea Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF): Eritrean Ground Forces, Eritrean Navy, Eritrean Air Force (includes Air Defense Force); People's Militia (aka People's Army or Hizbawi Serawit) (2023)

note: police are responsible for maintaining internal security, but the government sometimes used the armed forces, reserves, demobilized soldiers, or civilian militia to meet domestic as well as external security requirements; the armed forces have authority to arrest and detain civilians

Military expenditures

10% of GDP (2019 est.)
10.2% of GDP (2018 est.)
10.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
10.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
10.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

limited available information; estimated 150,000-200,000 personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the EDF inventory is comprised primarily of older Russian and Soviet-era systems; Eritrea was under a UN arms embargo from 2009 to 2018; from the 1990s to 2008, Russia was the leading supplier of arms to Eritrea, and in recent years, Eritrea has expressed interest in purchasing additional Russian equipment; in 2022, it reportedly received some UAVs from Russia (2023)

Military service age and obligation

Eritrea mandates military service for all citizens between the ages of 18 and 40; 18-month conscript service obligation, which includes 4-6 months of military training and 12 months of military or other national service (military service is most common); in practice, military and national service is often extended indefinitely; citizens up to the age of 55 eligible for recall during mobilization (2023)

note: as of 2020, women were estimated to make up as much as 30% of the Eritrean military

Military - note

the military’s primary responsibilities are external defense, border security, and providing the regime a vehicle for national cohesion; the Army is the dominant service; it is a large, conscript-based force and estimated to have more than 20 infantry divisions, including some that are mechanized, as well as a division of commandos/special forces; the Air Force has a small number of Soviet-era combat aircraft and helicopters, while the Navy maintains a limited number of coastal patrol vessels 

since the country's independence in 1991, the Eritrean military has participated in numerous conflicts, including the Hanish Island Crisis with Yemen (1995), the First Congo War (1996-1997), the Second Sudanese Civil War (1996-1998), the Eritrea-Ethiopia War (1998-2000), the Djiboutian-Eritrean border conflict (2008), and the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia (2020-2022); during the Tigray conflict, the Eritrean Defense Forces were accused of widespread human rights abuses including executions, rape, and torture of civilians within Ethiopia (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Eritrea on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Eritrea 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Eritrea 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.