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Could the principles used in developing and implementing the T.P.L.F’s Military Doctrine be adopted in fighting and mitigating the current poverty in Tigrai?

Just upon looking at the title, some of you may say, what a crazy idea is this, how can a principle used in developing a military doctrine be adopted in the development of a development doctrine?.

Thanks to some of the ex-fighters (such as Lt. Gen. Tsadkan G/Tensae one of the ex-T.P.L.F army leader) who have started to coherently tell us the secrets of the shining victories of the T.P.L.F’s armed struggle; I will start my piece of article by answering “YES” to the above question.

History tells us that the peoples of Ethiopia in general and the people of Tigrai in particular have a history of bravery and patriotism.  This was further enhanced during the previous seventeen years of armed struggle in which T.P.L.F has played a leading and historic role in institutionalizing bravery and selflessness and in making it a culture in the Tigrayan Society. 

I do believe that since its inception and in the process henceforth, T.P.L.F. has clearly understood the People of Tigrai’s aspiration for dignity, equality, justice; liberty and development, and thus T.P.L.F’s political goals and objectives of the armed struggle era didn’t come out of notion; but they were developed and refined through a process of continuous and participatory discussions at all levels of the front’s organs. 

Besides to the overall guiding principles of the front, T.P.L.F’s Military Doctrine; which was based and guided by the front’s political ideology; has also served as a point of embarkation in the process of institutionalizing the culture of bravery and selflessness among the fighters.  

As being witnessed by the leaders themselves (for details, you may visit,T.P.L.F’s Military Doctrine was developed through a rigorous research; which followed and took into consideration of the following major underlying principles:

1.    Identifying the Guiding Ideology.  First and foremost, T.P.L.F’s leadership had come into consensus that the Military Doctrine should emanate from and be guided by the front’s political ideology.

2.    The Need for an In-depth Scientific Study and Analysis.  The leadership had also decided that the Military Doctrine be developed based on an in-depth and scientific research in which both internal and external environments should be scanned, analyzed and interpreted and aligned in-line with the local objective realities. 

3.    The Establishment of a Core Study Team.  T.P.L.F’s leadership has established a core study team comprising of political bureau members of the front.  The team was responsible to undertake and lead a research focusing on the global geo-political situation (the cold war era) and the global economic order of that time, to review revolutions and armed struggles in different parts of the world (including China, Asia and Latin America), to study the Ethiopian socio-political and socio-economic situation, to undertake extensive assessments of the military government’s (Dergue’s) strengths and weaknesses in terms of personnel combat capacity, armament, military infrastructures; military strategies and tactics etc; to launch deep study and analysis of the situation in Tigrai: including on how the armed struggle could be economically supported on a sustainably basis; how to further enhance the People of Tigray’s support to the armed struggle, studies for the development of different military strategies and tactics for different geographic locations etc.

4.    Generating Research Outcome and Reviewing It: Once the core team finalized its research and come-up with its recommendation report; it was thoroughly discussed at all levels i.e.; among the political bureau members, central committee members, among army commanders and the fighters.  Viable comments and suggestions were incorporated and the final workable document was generated.  Thus, the approach was both sides (top-down and down-top)

5.    Capacity Building.  Once the final version of the Military Doctrine Document was generated; training and orientation was organized at different levels of the army.  This enabled for all members for the combatant members (army commanders and fighters) to have a clear and common understanding on the doctrine’s principles and on the implementation principles.

6.    Development of Plans, Strategies and Tactics.  Based on the overall Military Doctrine, army commanders in consultation with their team were to develop an operation plan including localized military strategies and tactics to attack an enemy in specific area.  These localized military tactics and strategies were also communicated and consulted with the top leadership.  When the need arises specific operation based trainings were given to all the fighters in the attacking team. Agazi Operation could be taken as an example.

7.    Implementation of the Strategies and Tactics.  Operations were led by army commanders with a closer follow-up by the top leadership.  Very fast decisions and corrective measures were taken at all levels while operations were underway. 

8.    Monitoring & Evaluations (Gimgema).  The system has put in place clear duties and responsibilities of each individual and group at different organizational level of the front with a corresponding clear authority and accountability. This has enabled to undertake objective, unbiased, participatory and transparent evaluations. Thus, irrespective of the outcome of a specific operation, critical evaluations were undertaken at different levels after the end of each operation and sometimes during operations by army commanders with the involvement of the fighters and by the top leadership.  Even the most successful operations were critically evaluated to serve as a benchmark for future undertakings; which were vital for subsequent operations and were really fruitful.  Moreover, such evaluations among others were considered as a major input for promoting competent and committed fighters and army commanders to a higher level position. Both competence and commitment to the front’s objectives were the prime criteria for promotion and for assuming a leadership position; which were vital for the front to achieve its armed struggle objectives.

9.    Continuous Improvement.  The doctrine was not static; and has been enriched through time from previous practical experiences.

10.The Big Lesson Learned. T.P.L.F’s armed struggle in general has proved that nothing is impossible. This is one of the important lessons that the generation of the armed struggle has learned.

The armed struggle’s Military Doctrine is still servicing as a benchmark of our country’s defense policy and strategy. Similarly, the current T.P.L.F leadership could use the principles of Developmental State in the development of Region based Development Doctrine that fits the objective realities in Tigrai. 

In a nutshell, the above principles (1-9) are the principles being used in modern day management.  They are the guiding principles of strategic management; which could be adopted in fighting and mitigating poverty.  However, for these principles to be effective there is a need for assigning competent leaders at all levels of the region’s administration who are free of corruption and nepotism and who are committed to address our people’s aspiration for dignity, equality, justice; liberty and development.


Respect to our selfless Tegadelti and Weyenti



Gebremedhin Gebru

September 3, 2015



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