Ethiopia country overview

Ethiopia Government

Ethiopia information index

Armed forces and security of Ethiopia


The origins and military traditions of the Ethiopian army can be traced back to the earliest history of Ethiopia. Positioned between the Middle East and Africa, Ethiopia has historically found itself at the crossroads of Eastern and Western politics, making it vulnerable to foreign invasions. Notably, the Ethiopian Empire successfully repelled the Ottoman Empire’s expansion attempt in 1579 during the Ottoman conquest of Habesh, as well as defeated the Egyptians in 1876 at Gura under the leadership of Emperor Yohannes IV.

During the Korean War, the Ethiopian Army, specifically the Kagnew Battalion unit, played an active role as part of the United Nations Command. While some sources claim that Ethiopian troops remained for 15 years, others state that they withdrew by 1975, in accordance with the UN Command. The battalion, comprising 6,037 troops, participated in the conflict.

The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) serves as the military force of Ethiopia and consists of two branches: the Ethiopian Ground Forces and the Ethiopian Air Force. Ethiopia, being a landlocked country, did not possess a navy since 1996. However, in 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reinstated the Ethiopian Navy, which is currently undergoing training with an undisclosed date for formal establishment.

Regarded as the strongest military in East Africa and one of the top five in the entire continent, the Ethiopian military is recognized for its capabilities. According to certain assessments, it ranks as the 49th most capable military in the world.

Law enforcement

The Ethiopian Federal Police (EFP) has a constitutional duty to enforce the law and ensure public safety at the federal level. Established in 1995, the EFP has been under the supervision of the Federal Police Commissioner since October 2000. The Commissioner used to report to the Ministry of Peace, but this changed after political reforms in 2018, and now the Commissioner reports to the parliament. Previously, the federal police would directly report to the Ministry. Additionally, the federal police can collaborate with regional police commissions for assistance, while local militias independently maintain security.

Bribery is a significant concern, particularly within the traffic police. There have been instances of police brutality in recent years. A video that went viral on 26 August 2019 showed two police officers beating a handcuffed man while an elderly woman tried to intervene in Addis Ababa. This recent misconduct by the police is seen as a failure of the Federal Police Commissioner to comply with Article 52 of the constitution, which mandates the investigation of unlawful use of force and the dismissal of officers involved in misconduct. The African Union’s Luanda and Robben Island Guidelines, the United Nations’ Declaration on Justice for Victims of Abuse of Power, and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force & Firearms all require the Ethiopian government disciplinary committee to address police brutality at both individual and systemic levels.

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