The Ethiopian Government has established a vast tent city on the outskirts of the capital of Addis Ababa as part of its massive mobilisation programme to provide troops for the border conflict with Somalia.
The Ethiopian Government has established a vast tent city on the outskirts of the capital of Addis Ababa as part of its massive mobilisation programme to provide troops for the border conflict with Somalia. Three hundred thousand volunteer civilians have been undergoing an intensive training programme before being sent to the battlefields near the Somali border.
SYNOPSIS: Within two short weeks, this large tract of land was transformed into a sprawling tent city used as Ethiopia's main training centre for its war with Somalia.
The Tatek training centre was established to bolster a desperate shortage of troops.
Thousands of tents mushroomed almost overnight after bulldozers had cleared the site and volunteers had installed an extensive sewerage and water supply system.
The vast army of volunteers who'd left behind their families, farm and factory jobs in the emergency of war...converged at the site of the tent city. some even making their way on foot.
As soon as the men finish their training at the camp, they will be dispatched to the front lines, so that more volunteers can be recruited and trained here. Ethiopia now boasts the biggest armed force in Africa after the Nigerian and Egyptian armies.
The militia being produced at the Tatek training camp has been well turned out and in the peak of fitness.
While these volunteers are groomed and trained reports of heavy losses have been coming in form the Somalia border, where for the past two weeks Somalia and Ethiopia have been engaged in the biggest battle so far in the two month old war, over the Ethiopian town of Jijiga.
According to Reuters News Agency, Jijiga has fallen to Somalia, and 4,000 Ethiopians were killed in the battle. Jijiga was crucial to both sides. Somalia's victory now means they have consolidated gains made in the opening week of the war in the Ogaden Desert.
But away from the battlelines, the morale of the newly recruited soldiers appears to be high. Life at the training camp is heavily disciplined with strict physical programmes but it does have its lighter moments.
The Government claimed that it would 'mould an army' within two months. They issued some of the recruits with combat uniforms and boots from South Korea, Soviet made rifles, and taught them to march and take part in an armed combat. The authorities say these 300,000 men represent only the beginning of their defense forces against Somalia, and a further half a million fighting men could be called up if necessary.