Ethiopia’s war with Somalia in 1968-1970
In 1968 our calender Somalia invaded Ethiopia, because, Somalia was well prepared for 18 years and had modern weapons. And had 70,000 solders.
in contrast, Ethiopia had 40,000 solders poorly equipped and unprepared to a large scale war. Also, Ethiopia was in the grip of internal conflict ; in addition, in the north west ,Sudan militarily started to attack Ethiopian garrison towns , also there was a strong rebel movements in the Sahel Eritrea, Begemder and Tigray regions . All these stretched Ethiopia’s army beyond its capacity. thus, the condition was ideal for Somalia’s plan.
In 1967- to the -middle of 1968 Somali’s invading army took several cities across vast area of Ogaden region. in the late 1968 Ethiopia’s army by paying ultimate price manged to stop the advancing Somali, therefore, for the following 6 months the war was in stall-mate. This bought time for Ethiopia and by 1969 the Durge government manged to raise the number of solder to 300,000 strong. At this time a massive Russian military aid, 15,000 Cuban solders and few hundred south Yemeni solders came to Ethiopia’s aid.
In Somali’s side the united state government massively supplied ammunition and military equipments. Egypt sent military advisers , used experts in military intelligence gathering , military related equipments and firing weapons to Somali . China also sided with Somalia and supplied weapons and materials.
15,000 Cuban solders , Russian advisers and Yemenis played significant role for which we are grateful. Let us say, if no solders arrived from Cuba , Yemeni and if no adviser came from USSR would that mean Ethiopia would have lost the war completely and permanently as one of a speaker seems to suggest in this video? i don’t think, because the arrival of modern weapons from USSR was though crucial or the missing element, zeal of the gallant Ethiopians for whom ethiopia is a holy land worth fighting to the last man, it is this mind set that turned out to be as crucial as the ammonations.
Baed on the out come of the war Somalia learnt that it miscalculated the whole thing. But there is irony here. The irony is that the victory Derge had achieved in Somalia made it to miscalculate in its own part about the war in the north, which was totally different from the east. the war in the north is gorilla not conventional, the train is not low land but impenetrable mountains region, above all,the war in north required more of political wisdom than military might.
The out come of the war in the north brought another irony.The other irony is that Shabi or the government of Eritrea miscalculated its ability and inveded Ethiopia. Shabia thinks that it had managed to achieve its goal because of its military brilliancy and undying fighting zeal. As a result, it felt unstoppable and invaded the northern tip of Ethiopia. As it turned out , Ethiopians were not only able to recaptured what had been captured by shabia, but the Ethiopians were able to advance as close as 90 kilo meter to Eritrea’s capital. Had it not been a sudden oppression stop order by the government of Melese Zenawi, Ethiopian army would have travelled the 90 kilometres and capture the capital city.
Of course one can argue that Eritreans would have fought back and prevent that from taking place. but we should not forget that at that time Eritreans army was in the loosing side and Ethiopia’s advancement was swift. This is because, now shabia fights conventional not gorilla, now it has defined space not suspected area, now it can not be illusive as it used to be, now its responsibility is not only fighting but providing all services and running the day to day civilian activity. All these are burden that it did never had. As a result, shabia lost what it captuerd’ hence, it miscalculated.