Ethiopia Table of Contents
Systematic military training in Ethiopia began in 1919 when, as regent, Tafari Mekonnen appointed a small group of Russian officers and some Ethiopians who had served in the British-led King's African Rifles to train Ethiopian troops. Some Ethiopian officers subsequently received instruction in France at the Saint-Cyr military academy. Between 1929 and 1935, a Belgian military mission trained the Imperial Bodyguard. In 1934 a Swedish delegation of five officers was invited to Ethiopia to open the Haile Selassie I Military Training Center at Holeta (also known as Genet Military School). Although this training helped Ethiopia field an army to resist the Italian invasion, the development of a modern army started only after liberation from Italian occupation in 1941, with British advisers primarily responsible for the training. Under a 1942 convention, Britain engaged in a ten-year military training mission to Ethiopia. In 1946, however, Addis Ababa diluted British influence somewhat by accepting a new team of Swedish military advisers. In 1953 a United States Military Assistance Advisory Group arrived in Ethiopia to train various branches of the Ethiopian security forces. Four years later, an Indian military mission came to establish and manage the Haile Selassie I Military Academy at Harer.
In 1991 there were five major military schools in Ethiopia, including the Harer Military Academy (formerly known as the Haile Selassie I Military Academy), the Holeta Military Training Center, the Air Force Training Center at Debre Zeyit, and the Naval College in Asmera.
In October 1987, the Ethiopian government announced the opening of the Armed Forces Staff Academy near Addis Ababa. According to an official statement, the academy's student body included senior officers (generals and colonels) from all branches of the armed forces. During the academy's yearlong course, officers studied and conducted research on national defense issues. Initially, Soviet personnel staffed the academy's faculty; however, Addis Ababa planned to replace them eventually with Ethiopian instructors.
The Harer Military Academy provided a three-year academic and military course for officer cadets. Military instruction included tactics, political indoctrination, engineering, intelligence, and security. Academic courses included physical and social sciences, public administration, and foreign languages, such as Russian and English. Graduates received commissions as second lieutenants, and they were eligible to receive the equivalent of a bachelor's degree after completing one year of additional study at Addis Ababa University. The Holeta Military Training Center also conferred commissions as second lieutenants on students who had completed courses lasting from six to nine months that were devoted to military subjects. Holeta's officer candidates normally were promising noncommissioned officers (NCOs) or volunteers who lacked a secondary school education.
Before 1974, Harer graduates belonged to a "military aristocracy," which monopolized high-ranking army positions. By contrast, Holeta graduates were reputed to be the products of an inferior education and were considered the "poor cousins" of the officer corps. Few of them ever rose higher than the middle ranks. But after the 1974 revolution, Holeta graduates began to establish their dominance over the army and expelled many Harer graduates, including those who had been members of various armed forces committees at the beginning of the revolution.
Although the two officer training installations had maintained separate facilities and programs, they merged after 1974 and were subsequently operated as branches of the Genet Military Academy. This training complex, initially staffed by Soviet and Cuban instructors, also incorporated advanced infantry, armor, artillery, and communications schools for officers.
The Air Force Training Center at Debre Zeyit offered cadets a four-year course of study and training. Officer candidates, all of whom were volunteers, underwent four months of basic military training and, upon entering the academy, signed a ten-year service contract. Separate curricula led to degrees in aeronautical engineering, electrical engineering, and administration. Graduates received commissions as second lieutenants. Those selected as pilots attended a flight training program at Dire Dawa. In 1984 Dornier, the West German aircraft manufacturer, provided pilot training at Debre Zeyit. Pilots and mechanics also received training in Britain. The air force operated technical schools for enlisted personnel at Debre Zeyit that trained aircraft maintenance and electronics technicians, communications operators, and weapons specialists. Upon entering these courses, which lasted eighteen months to two years, recruits committed themselves to remain on active duty for ten years.
Students at the Naval College in Asmera pursued a fiftytwo -month course of instruction that led to a naval science degree and a commission in the navy. The Naval College academic curriculum was broader than the army and air force programs and was supplemented by training at sea. In 1984 some forty-eight ensigns, belonging to the twenty-fourth graduating class, received diplomas; subsequent classes were of comparable size. Some naval officers received training abroad, notably at the naval academy in Leghorn, Italy, and at the Leningrad naval academy in the Soviet Union. The navy maintained training centers in the Mitsiwa area for seamen, technicians, and marines; recruits enlisted for seven years.
Officers received specialized in-service instruction at training centers throughout the country. Most of these centers' staffs included Soviet, East German, and--until Havana's 1989 decision to withdraw its forces from Ethiopia- -Cuban advisers. These advanced schools emphasized preparation for the supervision of technical personnel responsible for maintaining Soviet-supplied weapons, communications equipment, and electronic gear. Senior officers attended a two-month command and leadership course, which, based on Marxist-Leninist principles, stressed the need to develop "political consciousness" in the ranks as well as the technical mastery of weapons and equipment. There also was instruction in international relations and public speaking.
Army recruits underwent twelve weeks of basic training before being assigned to line units or to technical schools for specialized training. The largest technical school was at Genet, where NCOs studied tactics, engineering, logistics, and communications. Genet also offered courses in technical and secondary-level academic subjects to a limited number of students prior to their assignment as NCOs to operational units. Soviet instructors at the Genet armory school taught six-month advanced courses in weapons and vehicle maintenance. The size of each class ranged from 100 to 150 students. Genet also was the training center for women's army corps recruits. The government assigned uniformed political commissars to all units for the political education of enlisted personnel.
Data as of 1991
Ethiopia Table of Contents