9. Intelligence Appraisal Prepared in the Defense Intelligence Agency1

DIA IAPPR 109–77

[Omitted here are a cover sheet and a map of the Horn of Africa.]



(S) The insurgents have seized the initiative in the 15-year-old secessionist war in Ethiopia’s Eritrea Province. Guerrilla sieges of government garrisons have resulted in the abandonment of remote outposts and isolation of others. Moreover, morale among Ethiopian troops in the area has deteriorated seriously. The military government’s response to these challenges has been to increase the size of its force in Eritrea to more than 25,000.

(S) Insurgent forces are divided into three movements whose combined strength is about 12,000 to 15,000 armed regulars. These groups have grown rapidly during the past two years, due largely to the government’s harsh policies. Both internal and external backing appear sufficient to support the growing insurrection, although there are some indications of instability in the flow of resources—funds, small arms, and training—from the major benefactors in the Arab world. In response to Arab pressures, the three insurgent groups are now engaged in unification efforts which, if successful, will enhance their military capabilities.

(S) The outlook for the foreseeable future is for continued deterioration of Addis Ababa’s military posture in Eritrea. However, Ethiopia’s capacity to defend the main military centers in the province is formidable, so, barring a psychological blow that precipitates a chain reaction among government troops, a sudden insurgent victory is unlikely. While there is appreciable potential for sharp shifts in Ethiopia’s political situation, the most probable near-future pattern in Eritrea is a continuation of present trends. The guerrillas are expected to consolidate their hold on the countryside and peripheral towns, and the government forces will concentrate in the larger centers.

[Omitted here is the body of the report.]

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files, FRC 330–80–0017, Box 66, E–F–1977. Secret. Drafted by W. Barrows.