Ethiopia, U.S. Discuss Support for National Army

ADDIS ABEBA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has held a discussion with the top general for U.S. military operations in Africa on ways to build the capacity of Ethiopian national defense force or ENDF.

U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is on an official visit here as part of his east African tour where he so far visited Djibouti and Somalia.

During their talks on Wednesday, Prime Minister Abiy and General Townsend “discussed on strengthened short term and long term capacity building support for the national army”, said the prime minister office Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is currently engaged in reforming work within its National Defence Forces.

Prime Minister Abiy told AFRICOM’s head his government’s commitment to professionalizing the national army and ensuring it is a non-partisan and non-political entity in support of democracy.

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor, who accompanied Townsend during his meetings, noted the commander’s visit underscores the United States’ commitment to supporting the unprecedented reform effort underway in Ethiopia.

“As Ethiopia continues down the road of reform, its ability to bolster regional stability, while also safeguarding the Ethiopian peoples’ rights and security, will be crucial,” said Raynor.

“We are pleased to partner with the ENDF as they strengthen their capability to play these important roles,” the ambassador added.

General Townsend also congratulated Abiy for his recent Nobel Peace Prize Award, noting the award as remarkable for Ethiopia and the region, according to the PM office.

He also discussed security cooperation endeavors with Ethiopia, African Union missions, and long-term stability in East Africa.

“Ethiopia plays a critical and significant leadership role in the region, and across the continent,” said Townsend. “It has taken the initiative with effective counter-terrorism and peacekeeping operations. These efforts, along with their willingness to develop and enhance security capabilities, have helped create a safer region.”

The general also highlighted Ethiopia’s initiative in hosting AFRICOM-sponsored exercise Justified Accord in 2019 and 2020. These training exercises enable regional leaders to come together around common practices and challenges related to African Union peacekeeping in Somalia.

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Photo: Office of the Prime Minister-Ethiopia