The Ethiopian Defence Forces is ranked 29th in the world and second in Africa by Global Firepower’s report of the World Military Strength Rankings in its latest report released on February 2, 2013.
The data provides a unique analytical display of data concerning today’s world military powers. The report includes in its list 68 countries and surprisingly we are listed on the 29th position in the capacity of the military followed by those we considered way advanced from us. Spain, Finland, Greece, South Africa, Nigeria, Malaysia and many countries are listed below Ethiopia. And this makes me personally proud.
In recent years, Ethiopia has made tremendous achievements in the defence sector by managing to manufacture its own military equipment and defence systems. This has now paid. When we look at previous reports of 2011 and 2012 rankings, Ethiopia was placed 44th . The new report released by Global Firepower moved Ethiopia 15 places higher following the military capacity display at the Military Day, the Defence Forces celebrated two weeks back. The exhibition was staged demonstrating the level of progress the nation made. Both light and heavy, modern weapons, as well as different vehicles manufactured by the army-run automotive industry were also displayed at the exhibition.
Right after the opening many people raised their eyebrows in astonishment. The army showed its capacity, defying all odds. . The military have showcased to the public their capacity and the technology they are using today; a far cry from the guerrilla fighters’ days.
The good news, on Ethiopia’s military power, is that Ethiopia is still eager to avoid confrontation with other powers and focus on beefing up the economy. The bad news is for our enemies. With its rapidly improving military capability, Ethiopia has the ability to defend the security in the horn of Africa and beyond.
Such demonstrations and exhibitions should, I believe, be conducted every now and then as the public has the right to know how its army is operating.
The army today not only possesses the capacity but also the competence to build its first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone which could be used for multiple purposes. After undergoing testing, the locally made drones, have demonstrated their capability of performing a number of militarily and civilian applications. These drones used to be like myths to us, but now we are manufacturing them.
The locally manufactured drones are of international standards and are equipped with onboard sensors, cameras and GPS to carry out cost-effective monitoring activities across difficult landscapes even in the highlands of Ethiopia.
Besides serving in a number of military missions - such as in monitoring border security - the drones will also be deployed to perform geophysical surveys, assist forest protection and monitor forest fires or other natural disasters. The drones have already made test flights performing a geophysical survey of the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile River.
In recent years, many African countries have shown growing interest in using drones as a cost-effective way to control large infrastructure facilities, as well as areas rich in natural resources such as oil, mine and gas sites. The products the Ethiopian defence forces are manufacturing might even be a new hard currency earner. If work continues at this pace we can forget other natural resources in the next couple of years as the big earners of foreign currency.
This is more than oil. This is more than coffee. This is making sure that peace will exist for a long time. Not only in Ethiopia but in the horn of Africa and beyond.
The defence force is also one of the top soldier contributors in peace keeping missions around the world, and proudly the most efficient one. Peace keeping is the army’s culture. In 1951 Ethiopia had sent a contingent under General Mulugeta Buli, known as the Kagnew Battalion, to take part in the Korean War. It was attached to the American 7th Infantry Division, and fought in a number of engagements including the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. 3,518 Ethiopian troops served in the war, where 121 were killed and 536 wounded during the War. Since then Ethiopia has been actively engaged in various peace keeping missions.
And recently Ethiopia has served in various United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions, including in Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Rwanda, Liberia and Darfur among others.