In his first interview since attaining the nation’s first ever title of a field marshal, Chief of Staff of the armed forces Berhanu Jula has brilliantly explained how the gallant defense forces crushed the TPLF’s forces that were preparing for war for three years only in three weeks of operation. He further explained how the army repeated the same victory as it routed the terrorist TPLF fighters in three weeks of counter offensive and threw them back 400 kms to Tigray.
Field Marshal Berhanu in short indicated that the victory is outcome of effective integration of community participation, political and diplomatic excellence. Below is a summary of his answer for the question how the defense forces twice thwarted the organized attacks of the terrorist TPLF.
War is a matter of public mobilization. It utilizes all capacities of the country. It is not the task of the defense forces only. War is a comprehensive effort. There is diplomacy in it so that diplomacy can support the war. It cannot succeed if it does not participate in the community.
Even though the war is not clinched yet we have at least curbed the threat against the existence of the nation. This is the result of strong political-diplomatic and community mobilization endeavours. People have understood that the TPLF is not waging war because it faced aggression but intends to cause aggression on others. People have deployed their family members as much as they could.
Second is the issue of defence. In the first round of the war, the defence army has routed TPLF to the caves of Temben. The defence forces had recaptured the armaments the junta snatched from the northern command. It has disbanded more than 250,000 of the fighters it organized and trained. It has also emancipated the members of the north command who were taken, hostages. The centre of gravity of TPLF was stricken and was left without viable leadership. We did all these with minimal force. This was possible because every member of the defence forces was doing their jobs with perseverance.
While the army was clearing the remnants of the junta for eight months the TPLF structure was reorganizing. They had buried armaments in caves. Then they started to indoctrinate people that the defence forces are here to wipe out Tigray. People in many households were indoctrinated and organized. They look like an innocent civilian, but they were well trained and prepared. They were given orientation to develop hatred. They created many treasonous individuals. So we decided not to fight against people. We didn’t go there to administer Tigray but eliminate the bad administration so that the people can administer it themselves.
But they hampered us by mobilizing the people spreading wrong information and applying duress. And there were other crises like the increasing dependence on relief aid as agricultural farming stopped. This is likely to cause a big problem for the people in the coming 3 to 4 years as they cannot survive without producing. All these people should not continue dependence on relief aid. On top of that, the people should fight against us. Furthermore, we should not face any accusations despite helping transportation of aid, rebuilding infrastructure … etc. The international community should not accuse the defence forces based on false information by TPLF.
Yet after we left Tigray, they followed us from behind. The army that marched behind us was a newly organized mass that they trained as we routed them to the caves. They used weapons they buried in caves. As we know that they came with human waves we were preparing ourselves while on the defensive side for the four months. After we started the offensive, we routed them back first in the thirteen days up to Woldia and then a week later up to Kobo incurring them heavy casualties.
In the four months, we changed the organization of the army and raised the manpower, brought new technology and mobilized the people. As can be recalled the TPLF claimed that it has destroyed the Ethiopian Army. If so, how come it rushes 400 km back in two weeks of counteroffensive leaving behind all the areas it occupied with four months of fighting? What kind of strategic retreat is this? Or what kind of plan B is this?
This is an unprecedented sort of claim and you can never cheat anyone this way. The truth is they rushed back dropping down their arms and their soldiers to Tigray. They talk a lot of things to cheat the people of Tigray. This is the same old boring propaganda we have been hearing for more than 20 years. TPLF is cursed to make mistakes all the time and is allergic to learning.
In general, during the four months of defence, we have done a lot of jobs despite the difficulty of carrying out defensive fighting and preparing for more at the same time.
Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The
BY ZEKARIAS WOLDEMARIAM
THE ETHIOPIAN SUNDAY EDITION 13 JANUARY 2022