|Afghan Delegation at the British outpost, 1919|
The casualties during this small conflict were not great. Approximately, there were 1,000 Afghan killed in action and 1,751 British and Indian troops but, of these, 566 died from cholera and 334 as a result of other diseases and accidents.
The war ended 29 days after it had starter, in stalemate, and both sides claiming victory with a certain degree of justification. Although small scale guerrilla activity continued during the next two years, the British had repulsed an Afghan invasion of the Indian territory (in fact, Bahg was not occupied by neither adversary, but claimed by both, due to its proximity to the strategically important town of Landi Kotal) and restored order in and around the Khyber Pass. However, they suffered almost twice casualties than the Afghan and Amir Amanullah was, ultimately, able to secure his strategic political goal, gaining the right to implement Afghanistan´s own foreing policy, independent of Delhi (besides, he had been able to secure his throne...).
An Afghan tactical victory was unlikely even against the depleted British Indian Army but the war served Amanullah to deflect domestic criticism and offered him the opportunity to gain strategic political aims. As a result of the peace treaty, the British ceased the payment of the Afghan subsidy and stopped the arms sales from India to Afghanistan. But, as the British influence declined, the Afghan were able to gain control over their own foreing affairs and emerged as a fully independent state.
|The Afghan peace delegates, 1919|
Although the fighting concluded in August 1919, its effects continued to be felt in the region for some time. The disruption sparked stirred up more unrest, particularly in Waziristan. The tribesmen, always ready to exploit governmental weakness, banded together in the common cause of disorder and unrest. They had benefitted greatly from the weapons and ammunition that the Afghan had left behind, and from the influx of manpower in the large number of deserters from the militia that had joined their ranks, so they were able to launch a campaing of resistance against British authority on the North West Frontier that led, finally to a punituve campaing which was, perhaps, the most serious ever fought on the Frontier and in which the Indian Army faced humiliating defeat.
|British Camp in Haidri Kach, Waziristan 1920|
The campaing in Waziristan, the last act of the Third Afghan War, was the first major occasion on which the British had had to come to grips in the Frontier with the new situation created by the advent on a large scale of the modern, breech-loading, magazine rifle firing smokeless powder. Despite the deployment of the full range of up-to-date military technology on the British side, their early defeats and posterior hard fighting made clear that success would depend clearly upon discipline and individual training. This campaing led also to the intention to construct a network of permanent roads in tribal territory and the creation of an also permanent base in Ladha for a full brigade, changing the Frontier policy that, until that moment and por 70 years, had been one of no interference with the tribes but the occasional punitive expedition.
After all this fighting, the British did not go away empty-handed. The Treaty of Rawalpindi and the subsequent treaty of friendship signed in Kabul in 1921 meant that, for the first time since the 1830s, they could look forward to peaceful co-existence with Afghanistan and to the disappearance of the Russian menace which had overshadowed British rule in India.
It was the real triumph.
And this is the end to my historical introduction to this project. As I have said, a fascinating war with two different campaings, one against the Afghan regular army and the other against the Waziristan tribes.
Next entries will deal with my sources of information, as books or articles, and then the wargame!