Thousands of Ethiopians are flocking to join the country's armed forces in their major battle in the Ogaden desert against Somali nationalists.
Thousands of Ethiopians are flocking to join the country's armed forces in their major battle in the Ogaden desert against Somali nationalists. At a mass rally in Addis Ababa this week (25-26 SEPTEMBER) a recruiting drive saw a massive response to the Government's efforts to swell the army's ranks in the face of a war which, according to reports from the battle-front, Ethiopia was in danger of losing.
SYNOPSIS: One news report from the Ethiopian capital said ??? the struggle for final victory, the revolutionary masses of Ethiopia are more than ever before determined to put an end, once and for all, to the naked war of aggression'. Somalia, consistently denied being directly involved in the battle-saying the Somali forces involved are local guerrilla fighters claiming the Ogaden Desert as their own territory. But whatever the merits of the opposing sides' claims, the recruiting fever in Ethiopia appeared to be high, and the campaign itself was a highly-organised affair.
The recruits, including retired army men up to the age of 60 gathered in a huge meadow, called the ???an Mida Camp, in Addis Ababa. Small boys with mock wooden guns have also joined in the recruiting campaign launched by the Government to find another 40,000 soldiers.
Manpower is a major factor in the Ogaden Desert war, according at least one news report, and with the limited amount of weapons available to both sides it's the one who can raise the largest number of soldiers which could swing the tide of battle. In that respect alone, Ethiopia has been doing well-although reports from the war-zone said the Somalis were already occupying large areas of the disputed zone.
And so while the Ethiopian recruits were en route for the combat-zone in any transport available to join the ten-week-old battle, it was obvious from war dispatches that they had a hard fight ahead to retain control.