The Ethiopian Post-Transition Defense Review: Building a national army from a revolutionary democratic army

The Ethiopian state underwent major restructuring at the beginning of the last decade, adopting a federal system to replace a highly-centralized state. Specifically, the Ethiopian security sector was transformed, leading to a new conception of threats and security needs. The objective of this paper is to chronicle and analyze the unique Ethiopian experience of restructuring a people’s army into a national military force. Through an examination of the restructuring of the National Defence Force, this paper provides background information on the pre-reform structure and organization of the army, a discussion of the restructuring process, and analysis of how these changes moved the security agencies toward full professionalization. It also demonstrates how, in turn, these processes supported Ethiopia’s democratic transformation.

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