Ethiopia

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Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

This country is officially known today as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. For most of its history, the region has been ruled by a monarchy. The earliest kingdom, the D'mt, reigned from 700 to 400 BC and was succeeded by the Askumite Empire, which gained prominence in the 1st century CE and declined around the 9th century. Both Ethiopia and its neighbor Eritrea were ruled by the Zagwe dynasty from 1137 to 1270, and after this the Solomnic dynasty, which is the traditional ruling house of Ethiopia. Europeans first made contract with Ethiopia in the 15th century, but the nation retained its independence through the colonial period and resisting the Ottomans in the mid-16th century. Christianity was introduced to the nation in the 4th century, and eventually it was brought under the dominion of the Coptic Church of Alexandria.

Following a period of isolationism from 1755 to 1855, Ethiopia endured a series of local rebellions, as well as incursions from the Ottoman Empire, Egypt and a military expedition from Great Britain. The borders of the present nation were established under the reign of Emperor Menelik II in the late 19th century. In a treaty signed with Italy, a region of modern day Eritrea was ceded in exchange for political support and arms. The early 20th century was marked by the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie I, who undertook the modernization of Ethiopia from 1916. The nation was briefly occupied by Italy from 1936 to 1941, but was liberated with the assistance of British forces during the East African Campaign, although the Italians continued to fight a guerilla campaign until 1943.

In 1952 Haile Selassie orchestrated the federation with Eritrea which he dissolved in 1962, and which instigated the long-lasting Eritrean War of Independence that did not end until 1992. Haile Selassie's reign came to an end in 1974, when a Soviet-backed Marxist-Leninist military junta, the "Derg" led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, deposed him, and established a one-party communist state which was called People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. During the Ogaden War with neighboring Somalia the nation lost the Ogaden region in the north, only regained after receiving military aid from Eastern Europe, North Korea and Cuba. The Ethiopian Red Terror, a period of violence, deportations, widespread hunger and genocide from 1977 to 1978 was followed in the 1980s by a series of famines that affected as many as eight million Ethiopians. In response, an opposition movement, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), waged a guerilla war which ultimately collapsed the military government and set up a transitional government in 1991. Eritreans voted for and achieved independence in 1993, and the first free and democratic election took place in May 1995.

In May 1998, Ethiopia and its neighbor Eritrea went to war over a border dispute that continued until 2000. Ethiopia continues to occupy the territory gained during the conflict, despite a UN determination that the land actually belongs to Eritrea.

The armed forces of Ethiopia are today called the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), and consist of the Army and Air Force. The Ethiopian Navy existed from 1955 until 1991, but was dissolved after the independence of Eritrea as the country is now landlocked. It is estimated there are as many as 182,000 active duty personnel in the ENDF.

Ethiopian Camouflage Patterns

  • Under the "Derg" regime, the standard camouflage pattern of Ethiopian forces was the South Korean-produced "waves" pattern worn by the ROK Special Forces. Although not universally issued, the pattern was commonly worn by Commando brigades and other ground forces.

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  • In the modern era, many Ethiopian forces wear copies of the US m81 woodland camouflage pattern, sourced from a variety of manufacturers and nations.

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  • Copies of the US six-color chocolate chip desert camouflage pattern are also in distrubution with Ethiopian forces.

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  • Witnessed primarily on Ethiopian troops deployed on peacekeeping missions, a variation of DPM pattern has also seen some distribution.

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  • Special units of the National Police are known to wear a variation of the woodland camouflage design with a blue colorway as seen here.

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  • Other units of the Ethiopian Police wear a desert-type pattern consisting of large russet blotches on a sand-colored background. What makes this pattern interesting is the concentric colored circles embedded into the pattern.

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