This article examines the controversial Strategic Withdrawal of Eritrean fighters (EPLF) in the face of Soviet-backed Ethiopian offensives during the Eritrean War of Independence of 1961–91. It highlights the long-term effects of these decisive battles and argues that despite immediate Eritrean setbacks and Ethiopian successes in these encounters, the ultimate strengths and weaknesses of the two adversaries first became apparent during the Withdrawal. Eventually, the Eritrean independence fighters decisively won the war because, as a guerrilla army, they were more adaptable to the fast changing conditions on the ground. Blinded by their belief in armaments and numbers, their far superior foe neglected to correctly appraise the situation and improvise strategy accordingly. This article stops in 1980 when the EPLF went over to the tactical offensive.