When Mao Misfires: A Military Appreciation of the Tigray Conflict


  • Charles Thomas United States Air Force



The internal conflict between Ethiopia and its dissident state Tigray, known generally now as the Tigray Conflict, has been seen as a considerable amount of reporting and analysis. However, the discourse around the conflict itself has focused largely on either the political or humanitarian aspects of the conflict, with the actual military aspects of the conflict often placed as a background upon which these other topics are occurring. This approach has left the larger analysis of the conflict itself adrift, at best pieced together from the contextual discussions of news reports. However, even piecing together the course of the conflict from the limited available open-source reports and discussions, a rather fascinating portrait emerges, one that links together the military legacies of the previous sixty years of conflict in the Horn of Africa with the current shifting geopolitics of the region. As such, this essay is intended to trace these linkages and offer a preliminary appreciation of the strategies pursued in this conflict, including analysis of how the leadership of both sides viewed the war, how they chose to pursue it, and ultimately why Ethiopia prevailed despite several signal Tigrayan successes in the field.

Author Biography

Charles Thomas, United States Air Force

Charles Thomas is Associate Professor, Global College of PME, Air Command and Staff College, United States Air Force.






Special Section: Conflict in Contemporary Africa