Dire Dawa is the closest Ethiopian military base I know of to the Somalia border. If it is not the closest, it is still a crucial one, and so it was from here that large numbers of Ethiopian troops staged before pouring into Somalia in 2006 (and retreated to in January of 2009).
The number of forces involved in the U.S.-backed Somalia campaign are difficult to calculate because of a lack of formal organization and record-keeping as well as a significant disinformation campaign.
According to the BBC, “The United Nations estimated that at least 8,000 Ethiopian troops were in Somalia” while the AP suggested the number was closer to 12-15,000.
Ethiopia only admitted to 3,000–4,000 being involved, although the Islamic Courts Union claimed the Ethiopians had 30,000 troops in Somalia.
Whatever the actual number, I was not surprised to read of Amnesty International condemning all sides in the recent war, while singling out the Ethiopians for particularly strong criticism.
I was staggered by the thuggish behavior and lack of professionalism displayed by the forces of the Ethiopian State during our visit and was, therefore, not surprised to read of the same types of individuals engaging in war crimes.
According to Amnesty International…
“We have received many reports of ‘slaughtering’ or ‘killing like goats’ by Ethiopian troops, referring to killing by slitting the throat. The victims of these killings are often left lying in pools of blood in the streets until armed fighters, including snipers, move out of the area and relatives can collect their bodies. Such crimes were exposed after the Hidaya Mosque massacre, which occurred on April 20, 2008 and saw Ethiopian troops slaughtering civilians.”
Now, dear readers, I understand that you have certain expectations as to what standards my photographs should meet. I shall warn you in advance that the following pictures do not meet my normal standards. However, I was shooting on maximum zoom out the window of a moving aircraft and the Ethiopians are extremely uptight about what they perceive as security, thus requiring some discretion on my part.
The Ethiopian Army is equipped with predominantly Soviet-made weapons.
Light weapons I observed on military personnel were AK-47s, Heckler & Koch G3s, PKMs and various RPGs.
At the airport I could make out T-55, T-62 and T-72 tanks.
A variety of armored personnel carriers were present, but I don’t know shit about APC variants and so can only confirm that they were present.
There was a fair amount of artillery on display, but I was only able to identify 120 mm mortars and a handful of Howitzers with certainty.
Aircraft were carefully hidden away behind camouflage nets or behind rows of trees, but as we were landing, I was clearly able to see MiG-21, MiG-23 and Su-27 fighters.
Helicopters were more out in the open and I was able to identify Mi-8, Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopters.
With this much firepower at one base, you can see why Ethiopia is ranked as one of the largest military forces in Africa and the 29th largest in the world.
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While the trainers at Hurso were not immediately aware of Ethiopia’s plans to wage war on southern Somalia’s Islamist militiamen, they did notice a sudden increase in troops at Hurso, as well as other preparations.
Thank you for the additional information, Parag.
You are definetly a spy? Listen, I don’t like the current Ethiopian Gevernment. But you are posting details of my country’s military stuff for our enemies. I am angry how could they let you take a picture of such stuff??? You go there under the cover of humantarian work but what you do is collect information. You are hurting the very poor people of my country who you deceive in the name of hurting.
The stupid woyane government should stop filling his pocked and his belly in exchange for the spy work like yours.
You are definetly a spy? Listen, I don’t like the current Ethiopian Gevernment. But you are posting details of my country’s military stuff for our enemies. What business is yours to post detail type of weapons and plains Ethio has at a specific location????? How much money you got for doing that?. I am angry how could they let you take a picture of such stuff??? You go there under the cover of humantarian work but what you do is collect information. You are hurting the very poor people of my country whom you deceive in the name of providing help.
The stupid woyane government should stop filling his pocket and his belly in exchange for the spy works like yours.
Ethiopia has been a strong ally to the U.S. since at least 2006, when Ethiopia invaded neighboring Somalia to remove the Islamic Court Union from power in the southern part of the country. Now, the relationship seems to have reached a new high, with a U.S. drone base in the Ethiopian town of Arba Minch going operational. U.S. officials stress that the Reaper drones are only equipped with surveillance gear, but together with the establishment of other new U.S. bases in the region, the move is a significant escalation of U.S. efforts to project military force to the volatile Horn of Africa region.