Command and Force Structure
Political requirements largely determined the military's
organizational structure in the first years after the 1974
revolution. Beginning in 1977, the military adopted Soviet
command procedures, which reflected Moscow's influence. It
should be pointed out, however, that Mengistu made all major
military decisions in his capacity as commander in chief of
the armed forces.
Military policy and all important decisions emanated from
PMAC committees designated to deal with political and
military affairs, defense, militia affairs, and security.
The Council of Ministers, through the ministries of defense,
interior, and public and national security, administered
national security policy. The armed forces chain of command
ran from the PMAC through the Ministry of Defense to the
chiefs of staff of the army, air force, and navy and through
the Ministry of Interior to the chief of the People's
Militia. Service commanders, who operated from individual
headquarters without an intermediate chairman, reported
directly to Mengistu. Four regional commanders coordinated
In August 1977, the PMAC established the National
Revolutionary Operations Command (NROC) in response to
unrest in the armed forces, political resistance from
leftist opponents of the regime, and the deteriorating
situation in Eritrea and the Ogaden. The NROC replaced the
revolution and development committees founded earlier in
1977 to mobilize militia units on a regional basis and to
direct regional security operations against "reactionaries."
Although the new command initially coordinated the
recruiting, training, and equipping of the People's Militia,
it eventually emerged as the central command structure and
assumed sweeping civilian and military powers. Headed by a
twenty-eight-member council--consisting of representatives
from the PMAC, the Council of Ministers, the Provisional
Office for Mass Organization Affairs (POMOA), and the
official All-Ethiopia Trade Union, as well as the services'
chiefs of staff--the NROC assumed command of the armed
forces and responsibility for commandeering resources,
public utilities, and manpower for the war effort. Mengistu
served as its chairman.
In December 1977, the PMAC also created the Supreme
Military Strategic Committee (SMSC) to formulate
counterinsurgency strategy for Eritrea and the Ogaden and to
direct military operations elsewhere in the country.
Subsequently, the SMSC assumed responsibility for improving
the armed forces' technical efficiency. The SMSC included
eight Soviet, three Cuban, and seven Ethiopian
In April 1983, the government established the National
Defense and Security Council, which was empowered to devise
the country's military and civilian defense policies. This
council included the head of state, the secretary general of
the PMAC, and the ministers of defense, interior, and public
and national security. The council's goal was to improve
defense strategies and coordination among the army, the
People's Militia, and the civilian population in times of
war or natural disaster.
Data as of 1991