59. Current Reports Prepared in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research1


A. Role of Soviet Generals in Ethiopia

Soviet General Petrov is “almost entirely” in control of military planning for Ethiopian and Cuban forces in the Ogaden, according to a generally reliable clandestine [less than 1 line not declassified] source. Petrov reportedly controls a joint military planning group (Soviets, Cubans and Ethiopians) and does not have to coordinate his decisions with, or seek approval from, Addis Ababa. According to the source, Petrov personally gives orders to Ethiopian division and brigade commanders and decides when Cuban units should be committed to combat. He does not, however, have command of Ogaden air operations, which remain under control of Ethiopian Air Force headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Another clandestine report, meanwhile, indicates that Soviet General Vorokhov recently accompanied high-level Ethiopian military officials to the Eritrean port of Massawa to plan a break-out from that besieged city. The plan will reportedly include an amphibious landing of troops outside the port if a suitable site can be found. (Recent [less than 1 line not declassified] imagery showed an amphibious force of brigade strength being loaded on landing ships north of Assab, presumably intended for Massawa.)

INR notes that these clandestine reports, if accurate, indicate a type of Soviet military involvement in Ethiopia significantly different from earlier Soviet military activities in either the Middle East or Angola and diverge significantly, in spirit at least, from Moscow’s public and private assurances that its personnel are not involved in combat operations. Moscow’s deepest involvement in active military operations in the Third World heretofore was in Egypt during the 1969–1970 War of Attrition. At that time, Soviet air units operated under Soviet command against Israeli deep penetration raids, but there was no real question of Soviet control over Egyptian ground forces. Nor in Angola was there evidence that Soviet military personnel played more than an advisory and supportive logistic role in what was overwhelmingly a Cuban-[Page 145]Angolan military operation. (TOP SECRET RUFF/NOFORN/NOCONTRACT/ORCON/EXDIS)

[Omitted here are items unrelated to the Horn of Africa.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Horn/Special Files, Box 2, Chron File: 2/78. Top Secret; Exdis; Codeword. Carter wrote at the top of the page, “We might go public on this. J.”