sábado, 31 de agosto de 2013

The Afghan Regular Army, 1919

Kabul 2009; a friendly Afghan regular and his camel
I have received recently mi pre-order of "Chain of Command", so I have had not enought time for my "only" project, but I think it is an old problem of all of us...
Well. This time, I am going to write something about the Afghan Regular Army of 1919, a true "back of beyond" organization.
The real military strength of Afghanistan depended on the armed population rather than on the regular forces because, on the whole, the Afghan troops were ill-trained and lacked manoeuvrability. They could not be considered, by any standard, first class troops, although they had a great level of courage and endurance. There was not weapons training nor tactical exercises, so these troops were more liable to await than to initiate an attack.

At the begining of hostilities, the Afghan Regular Army comprised 21 regiments of Cavalry, 78 battalions of infantry and around 280 breech-loading guns and an equal number of muzzle-loaders chiefly posted on the Russian and Persian frontiers. The effectives totalled about 38,000 rifles, 8,000 sabres and 4,000 artillerymen and just half of these forces were stationed on the frontier with India.
There was no staff, nor attempt at a brigade organization except in Kabul, whose garrison of 17 battalions of infantry, 7 regiments of cavalry and 108 guns was in fact the strategy reserve of the Army. There were four mixed brigades in Kabul, every one with one regiment of cavalry, one battery of field and another of pack artillery, three battalions of infantry and three machine guns.
The Infantry varied considerably in armament and equipment; less than half the battalions were armed with small-bore rifles whilst the remaining units had Martini-Henrys or Sniders. The infantry wore also a bayonted, sometimes with an sword also, but there was no instruction in its use. The Officers and NCO´s were ignorant and deficient in everything.
When war broke out, no battalion had more than 75 percent of effectives, and many of them made up their numbers by drafting in armed tribesmen... adding a new problem to the discipline issue.
Only the Kabul units had a service dress consisted of a suit of khaki, puttes and ankle boots. The equipment was a leather belt with leather braces and three big pouches. The headdress was a round, black lambskin cap with, sometimes, a metal badge representing a mosque on a crescent. Men of other units frequently wore their local and everyday costume: a sheepskin coat, wide trousers and native shoes.

Afghan infantryman
The Cavalry were mounted in small but sturdy ponies, unsuited to shock action; they were armed with rifle and sword, but were little better than mounted infantry. The regiments in Kabul had lances, but they were seldom carried.
The Artillery in 1919 consisted on 10cm Krupp howitzers, 75mm Krupp pack guns and older 7-pounder mountain guns. There were also really old Gardner machine guns with multiple barrels, obsolete for more than twenty years in the British Army.
The field artillery was under-horsed and badly trained. Drills were infrequent, range practices were seldom carried out and field practices and calibration were unknown.
There was only an arsenal in Afghanistan, in Kabul, able to produce guns, rifles, shells, small-arms ammunition, clothes and general equipment. In Bawali, near Jalalabad, existed a factory for making black powder for the Sniders and Martini-Henrys. There was not a vehicular transport service, but there were plenty of camels available for military use in the country.
To facilitate the movement of troops, state granaries existed in the fortified post which marked the stages every 12 miles along the main roads.

Afghan Regular Cavalry
The Afghan Regular Army looked a rag-tag bunch, a true "Pancho Villa´s Army", but they could be expected to fight stoulty, and the rugged country and debilitated state of the Indian Army favoured them, in the sort term at least.
Finally, in adition to the regular troops, there were around 10,000 Khassadar (tribal militia) who wore not uniform, carried Snider rifles and were used on road protection, police work and general custom duties.

Waziri Khassadar at Miranshah
So this is the Afghan Regular Army, the enemy of the Imperial forces. I would like to have painted already some figures to represent them but... the time, the never abundant time.
I have though about to use Turkish or Arab in Turk service as Afghan regulars, but my hope is that Mr Hicks sculpt some of them soon.
In this moment I´m awaiting some terrain elements I have bought in E-Bay, and others I have ordered from Wargames News and Terrain. I´m also thinking about to adapt the new rulebook from Too Fat Lardies, "Chain of Command" and test it in a game; after playing a game of "Mud and Blood" I think it can be unnecessary complex for this period...

6 comentarios:

  1. Respuestas
    1. Thank you a lot, Fran. I have fixed in my mind the colours you have put in your Victorian tanks...

  2. Upto your usual high standards, very well written and very informative. It amazes me how you can write so well in a language that is not your native tongue.
    Came across the following site;-
    It is a bit later than the period we are interested in, but has some very good colour photos of uniforms, giving a good indication of the various shades of khaki used by British and Empire troops. It also shows some interesting examples of the mixture of uniform items once troops start operating in the colder parts of the tropics.
    At the moment I'm rereading Churchill's- " The Story of the Malakand Field Force". Came across a couple of references to the difference in colours of the tribal costumes. The clearest being;-
    "Great numbers of Bunerwals now joined the gathering. the garrison were able to distinguish these newcomers from the Swatis, Utman Khels, Mamunds, Salarzais and others, by the black or dark blue clothes they wore"
    Elsewhere Churchill refers to the tribesmen of the lower Swat valley(i.e Swatis) wearing white coloured clothes.

    1. Thank you a lot, sir. It is for me an exercise, to write in English.
      About the links, it is always interesting to have more information about the elusive "khaki".

      I also have Churchill´s book, and I like a lot his writting. White clothes appears to be the most common of them!

  3. Forget to mention, did you see the news in LAF forum concerning Renedra bringing out a generic "Middle Eastern" in plastic,
    Looks quite a useful building

    1. I have seen it just today. As you say, it can be very useful, so I have put it in my list, with many other things!


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