Walking past a section of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, one would mistake it for a war zone. There is a display of anti air craft weapons, armored vehicles, rocket launchers among other weaponry that the Ethiopian National Defense Force has opened to the public.
While some people listen attentively to explanations of how each of the machines are used, others don’t want to miss the opportunity of holding a real gun.
Many Ethiopian citizens have never come this close to interacting with their military, leave alone getting see their war artillery. This rare military display is happening for the first time in the history of Ethiopia.
When the military display was set up, there was much speculation among the public. Some people even thought that the military was trying to send a message to Ethiopia’s external enemies.
However, security analysts say that this military display of power is a strategic way by which the government can reassure the citizens of their safety and also reconfirm its might.
The military insists that the primary aim of this rare display is simply to celebrate the first ever army day.
Ethiopia has several defense industrial organizations that produce and overhaul different weapons systems. With only ground and air forces , the army has transformed to a national body.
The force reportedly boasts of a collection of approximately 250 main battle tanks, 400 reconnaissance, armored personnel, and infantry fighting vehicles, 400 pieces of towed artillery, multiple rocket launchers, over 300 surface-to-air missiles, and some self-propelled artillery.
The Ethiopian armed forces have been involved in several conflicts within Africa. The latest is their presence in Somalia under the UN peace keeping mission, AMISOM .
In 2012, the International Institute of Security Studies estimated that the ground forces had 135,000 personnel and the air force 3,000.