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Ethiopia Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF): Ground Forces, Ethiopian Air Force (Ye Ityopya Ayer Hayl, ETAF) (2023)

note 1: national and regional police forces are responsible for law enforcement and maintenance of order, with the ENDF sometimes providing internal security support; the Ethiopian Federal Police (EFP) report to the Prime Minister’s Office

note 2: the regional governments control regional security forces, including "special" paramilitary forces, which generally operate independently from the federal government and in some cases operate as regional defense forces maintaining national borders; local militias also operate across the country in loose and varying coordination with these regional security and police forces, the ENDF, and the EFP; in April 2023, the federal government ordered the integration of these regional special forces into the EFP or ENDF; in some cases, the regional governments have maintained former members of the special forces for “crowd control/Adma Bitena” as a separate unit within their security structures

note 3: in 2020 the Ethiopian Government announced it had re-established a navy, which had been disbanded in 1996; in March 2019, Ethiopia signed a defense cooperation agreement with France which stipulated that France would support the establishment of an Ethiopian navy, which would reportedly be based out of Djibouti; in 2018, Ethiopia established a Republican Guard military unit responsible to the Prime Minister for protecting senior officials

Military expenditures

0.6% of GDP (2023 est.)
1.7% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.5% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.5% of GDP (2020 est.)
0.6% of GDP (2019 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; prior to the 2020-2022 Tigray conflict, approximately 150,000 active-duty troops (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the ENDF's inventory is comprised mostly of Russian and Soviet-era equipment; in recent years, the ENDF has received arms from a variety of countries, including China, Israel, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates; Ethiopia has a modest industrial defense base centered on small arms and production of armored vehicles (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-22 years of age for voluntary military service (although the military may, when necessary, recruit a person more than 22 years old); no compulsory military service, but the military can conduct callups when necessary and compliance is compulsory (2023)

Military deployments

approximately 5-8,000 in Somalia (up to 4,000 for ATMIS; the remainder under a bilateral agreement with the Somali Government; note - foreign troop contingents in Somalia under ATMIS are drawing down towards a final withdrawal in December 2024); 1,450 South Sudan (UNMISS) (2023)

Military - note

the ENDF has traditionally been one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest, most experienced, and best equipped militaries, but it suffered heavy casualties and equipment losses during the 2020-2022 Tigray conflict; the Ground Forces are estimated to have more than 20 infantry divisions, including several that are mechanized, along with at least one division of commandos/special forces; the Air Force has combat squadrons of multipurpose fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, and armed unmanned aerial vehicles; ENDF operations are often supported by sizeable regional state paramilitary units 

the ENDF is focused on both external threats emanating from its neighbors and internal threats from multiple internal armed groups; since 1998, the ENDF has engaged in several conventional and counterinsurgency operations, including border wars with Eritrea (1998-2000) and Somalia (2006-2008) and internal conflicts with the Tigray regional state (2020-2022), several insurgent groups and ethnic militias (including the ethnonationalist Amhara Fano), and the al-Shabaab terrorist group (see Appendix T); as of 2024, the ENDF was conducting counterinsurgency operations against anti-government militants in several states, including in Oromya (Oromia) against the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), an insurgent group that claims to be fighting for greater autonomy for the Oromo, Ethiopia's largest ethnic group; in 2022, militants from the Somalia-based al-Shabaab terrorist group launched an incursion into Ethiopia's Somali (Sumale) regional state, attacking villages and security forces; the Ethiopian Government claimed that regional security forces killed hundreds of al-Shabaab fighters and subsequently deployed additional ENDF troops into Somalia’s Gedo region to prevent further incursions (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Ethiopia 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 Ethiopia 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Ethiopia 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.