EPLF's Strategy to Destroy Nadew Command

In the year 1987


EPLF daringly planned to destroy Nadew Command after meticulous intelligence gathering and diversionary operations behind enemy lines

EPLF freedom fighters looking out from trenches EPLF freedom fighters looking out from trenches

In the early months of 1988, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) was meticulously planning a major military offensive that would change the course of the struggle for independence.

The target was the Ethiopian army’s Nadew Ez (Command), a formidable force that had long been entrenched at Afabet as the main center of gravity (COG) for the Nakfa front especially, and the northern highlands of Eritrea in general.

EPLF’s Plan of Action Formulated

The decision to launch this daring operation to destroy Nadew Command was made at the EPLF’s Central Committee meeting on February 28, 1988, where a plan of action was formulated.

The EPLF leadership did not arrive at this decision lightly. They had spent months gathering detailed intelligence on the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses, studying every aspect of its defenses and capabilities.

Through sustained attacks and deceptive movements behind enemy lines throughout 1987, the EPLF had successfully diverted the enemy’s attention and resources away from the Nakfa front and its Nadew Command.

Dilemma within the Ethiopian Army

Two months before the planned assault, Brigadier General Tariku Yayne, the commander of the Nadew Command, wrote to his superior, Major General Regassa Jima, the commander of the 2nd Revolutionary Army.

General Tariku claimed that the EPLF was gathering huge intelligence to attack the Nakfa front and demanded the immediate return of the 15th and 22nd divisions that had been withdrawn from that front to the Eritrean highlands.

However, General Regassa dismissed these concerns, replying, “We don’t believe the EPLF will launch a massive attack soon based on our assessment. So those divisions will stay to temporarily eliminate our threat in the highlands, but extreme caution is required.”

Reasons for the Confusion

The 2nd Army commanders had concluded that “the EPLF has no capacity to attack from their defensive base at Nakfa” for two reasons:

  1. The EPLF had moved over six brigades behind enemy lines in the occupied areas as a diversional tactic, drawing the enemy’s attention away from the Nakfa front.
  1. The EPLF had launched small-scale attacks on the Nakfa front in December 1987 to capture key strategic positions and had concentrated on consolidating their hold over these newly captured strongholds.

The Diversional Strategy Worked

Little did the Ethiopian commanders know that these moves were all part of the EPLF’s carefully orchestrated plan to lure the enemy’s resources out of the front to other areas.

By making it appear as though their focus was elsewhere, the EPLF had successfully set the stage for their impending attack on Nadew Command.

  • Every day we are making Eritrean history. Let’s tell them. Soon they may be forgotten.