Military of Eritrea

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Eritrea's military role stems from its strategic geographical location. It is located on the Red Sea with a foothold on the Straits of Bab al-Mandeb. Of all African countries, Eritrea has the longest Red Sea coast line at over 1,000 km.

Military of Eritrea
Military manpower
Availabilitymales and females age 18-49
Fit for military servicemales and females age 18-49
Military expenditure
Dollar figureUSD220.1 million (2005 est.)
Percent of GDP17.7% (2005 est.)


[edit] History

In the 16th century the ports of Massawa were used by the Ottomans to protect sea lanes from disruption while more recently it was used by the Italians. The Colony of Eritrea was founded by the Italians in 1890 shortly after the opening of the Suez Canal. The Italians expanded their posessions into Ethiopia. Eritrean 'Askaris' (native soldiers), along with Italian troops occupied Ethiopia in 1936 however, this was reversed by British troops in 1941.

During the war for Eritrea's independence, the rebel movements (the ELF and the EPLF) used volunteers. In the final years of the Struggle for independence, the EPLF ranks grew to 110,000 volunteers (some 3% of the population).

[edit] Manpower

Image:Soldiers of Eritrea (women).jpg
Female soldiers marching in a parade.
The size of Eritrea's population is small, particularly when compared to its neighbours. A military composed fully of career soldiers would not be adequate to meet the nation's defence needs. During peacetime the military of Eritrea numbers approximately 45,000<ref>Killion, Tom (1998). Historical Dictionary of Eritrea. The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810834375.</ref> with a reserve force approximately 250,000<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> strong and growing.

[edit] National service

Every able bodied man and woman is required to serve for 1½ years. In this time they will receive six months of military training and the balance will be spent working on national reconstruction projects. This is outlined in both the Constitution of Eritrea and Proclamation 82 issued by the National Assembly in 1995-10-23.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The period of enlistment may be extended during times of national crisis. This program aims to compensate for Eritrea’s lack of capital and to reduce dependence on foreign aid, while welding together an ethnically diverse society, half Christian and half Muslim, representing nine ethnic groups.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Military training is given at the Sawa Defence Training Centre. At the end of the 1½ year national service, the serviceman can elect to stay on and become a career military officer. If the serviceman elects otherwise they return to their civilian lives but will continue to be a reservist.

[edit] Current issues

As of 2006, Eritrea is embroiled in a military stalemate with its neighbour and rival, Ethiopia. It is estimated that Eritrea maintains a force of at least 300,000 soldiers on the border with Ethiopia. While this matches the Ethiopian side, it is done so at considerably greater proportionate expense, given the far larger population from which Ethiopia is able to draw.

The pressure on the economy posed by the consequences of maintaining the mobilisation of such a large percentage of the working population is deemed by many observers to be the single greatest pressure on the Eritrean government at the present time.

To resolve the stalemate is in Eritrea's favour; to maintain the stand-off indefinitely is in Ethiopia's. One of the fears voiced for the Horn of Africa region is that Eritrea may opt to escalate the conflict further in order to resolve its uncomfortable situation. Ironically, this would arguably work in Ethiopia's favour as well, given the well-equipped state of the Ethiopian military and its desire for a casus belli[citation needed] in order to pursue its territorial goals, notably the strategic port of Assab and the symbolic village of Badme. Eritrea therefore faces a dilemma, which, at the present time, appears to be negotiable only should international intervention materialise.

[edit] Branches of the EDF

The Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF) are composed of three branches: Air Force, Army, and Navy. By far the Army is larger than the Air Force and Navy. The Commander-in-Chief of the EDF is the President of Eritrea. The Minister of Defence oversees the EDF on a day-to-day basis.

[edit] Eritrean Army

The Eritrean Army is based in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, ZM. The Eritrean army has a cooperation agreement with China.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

More information needed

[edit] Eritrean Navy

The Commander of the Eritrean Naval Forces is Major General Hummed Ahmed Karikare. The Eritrean Naval Forces Headquarters is in Massawa.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The Eritrean Navy has a cooperation agreement with Pakistan.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Eritrean Air Force

The Commander of the Eritrean Air Force is Major General Teklai Habteselassie. The Eritrean Air Force <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Headquarters is in Asmara, Eritrea.

In 1999, the ERAF bought ten MiG-29's. The MiG-29's are probably flown and maintained by Eritean, Russian and Ukrainian pilots and technicians.[citation needed] In 2000 the ERAF bought eight Su-25's from Georgia, and six more MiG-29's from Moldavia. Unconfirmed reports mention that at least two MiG-29's were brought down by Ethiopian Flankers.

Nowadays, Eritrea has received 6 Su-27 Flankers. Other recent additions to the ERAF are four Mi-17's.<ref></ref> The MiG-21's which were taken from the Ethiopian Air Force are believed to be no longer in service.

[edit] Training Aircraft

[edit] Fighters

[edit] Helicopters

[edit] Misc. Aircraft

[edit] References and links

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