This photo is an apt summary of a good chunk of my four days in the Afar region of Ethiopia. In one of the most inhospitable environments on Earth and the hottest inhabited place on the planet, even the Land Cruisers struggle. Apparently, the 4WD system on this cruiser wasn't working, and so it just wasn't up to handling the off-road driving and kept getting stuck in the sand.
When traveling in the Afar, it is compulsorary to have both a local police officer (non-uniformed gun-toting man) and a soldier (uniformed gun-toting man) along as escorts. The bigger the convoy of vehicles, the greater the number of escorts.
The need for security is based on a tourist attack from January 17th, 2012 in which five European tourists were killed. The attack was carried out by Eritrean-trained groups, although Eritrea denies having trained and armed the attackers. Eritrea is basically the North Korea of Africa, and has border disputes with its neighbors.
Given that the Afar region shares a border with Eritrea, and you do get rather close to the border, the extra security is deemed compulsory. Whether or not the security is really needed currently is hard for me to say, but if nothing else it at least means there are several more Afar people employed thanks to the stream of tourists that endure the heat in the name of adventure.