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"Afghan Regulars: tactical doctrine?" Topic

19 Posts

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472 hits since 10 Sep 2018
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Comments or corrections?

sausagesca11 Sep 2018 3:06 p.m. PST

There have been several queries about the uniforms of the Afghan regular units in the 2nd Afghan War, but less chatter about their tactical doctrines. For Battles for Empire I am inclined to base them as close order regulars (although, perhaps on bases a little wider than Brits et al) and have them adopt European doctrines, but is that overstating their discipline and training?

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 3:45 p.m. PST

While it's true that they stood and traded volleys with the British at Maiwand, I also read that they were very aware of their inferior small arms (mostly rifled muzzle loaders) and had a tendency to assume skirmish order and fire from cover. In my BfE Maiwand OB from 2004 (!) I classified them as Trained Colonial Recruits – 3rd Rate firearms – Green. Of course there were lots and lots of them!

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 4:55 p.m. PST

Were the Afghan regulars trained by European soldiers?

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 6:27 p.m. PST

"Though some contemporaries believed that the introduction of uniforms into the Afghan army only began after the First Afghan War, they were already in limited use at least 30 years earlier, and began to be adopted on a larger scale under the influence of foreign instructors hired during the 1830s. From the outset these uniforms reflected British influence (Elphinstone described Afghan infantry he saw in 1809 as ‘dressed in imitation of our sepoys'), and this remained the case throughout most of the century, even after Russian influence increased during the 1880s".
You can read the rest here: link

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 6:42 p.m. PST

Very interesting article comparing the qualities of the two armies at Maiwand written by a modern Afghan army officer:
PDF link

sausagesca11 Sep 2018 7:09 p.m. PST

Superb, Nick. Thanks for the feedback. I agree about the BFE category you chose but, as I noted, I am thinking of basing some/most of the Afghan regs on wider stands to make them a bit more awkward to maneuver compared to fully trained troops.

sausagesca11 Sep 2018 7:27 p.m. PST

What a superb article. It details aspects of the battle that I have not before considered -- the analysis is really useful. Thanks for the link, Nick.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 8:10 p.m. PST

By the way, Chris, I am running the Battle of Atbara on Saturday using BfE 2nd Ed. This time the Dervish army is hunkered down behind a zareba for a change. Should be interesting!

Gone Fishing12 Sep 2018 4:26 a.m. PST

Atbara is a very interesting battle, with a good twist on the usual positions. Will you be doing it in 28 or 54mm?

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 11:15 a.m. PST

Gone Fishing, this one is in 28/25, mostly the old Ral Parthas.

Gone Fishing12 Sep 2018 12:31 p.m. PST

Have a great time! Any chance of pics?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 1:04 p.m. PST

Foundry makes a nice range of "a little bit bigger than true 25mm" Afghan Regulars based on the Ian Heath paintings.
I find them very compatible with Ral Partha.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 1:19 p.m. PST

I'll post pics if they're worthwhile. I'm still a bit burned out from running two convention games over Labor Day weekend, so it's short of my best efforts. But I wanted to make sure I played Atbara during its 120th anniversary year. Seems like everyone is playing Omdurman, but no one I know is doing Atbara.

sausagesca12 Sep 2018 3:16 p.m. PST

Would love to see the scenario design for Atbara. How large are you going in terms of scaling the action and what table size?

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2018 8:31 a.m. PST

Hi Chris,
I'll be using my usual 5X8 foot table. I have a low desert hill that measures approx. 2X3 foot and I'll put a lichen zareba around it. The hill will have lots of trenches, palm trees, and as many native huts as I own. Imperials will have ten BfE units, in this case representing battalions. The Dervish will have an equal number of foot units, but only two will be rifle armed. Imperials will have three modern cannon and one Maxim gun. Dervish will have two brass cannon. Two Egyptian cavalry units vs. three Dervish mounted. I'll post the OB in the BfE Yahoo Group files.
BTW, Chris, do you ever attend Enfilade? I flew up from California for the first time in May, hoping to run into you among the many west coast Canadians. I am planning to run your Isandlwana scenario there next year, on its 140th anniversary year.
Best regards,

sausagesca13 Sep 2018 1:44 p.m. PST

Hi Nick,

Thanks for the details. Yes, I usually do head down to Olympia (superb convention) but was going to Normandy at that time so couldn't make it. I hope to be there next year, so perhaps I could help you with the scenario? Or bring down RD as a compliment to your game?


sausagesca13 Sep 2018 2:35 p.m. PST

Just saw your scenario noted on the Yahoo site. Love seeing the old Henty map. Thanks for posting this. Looks like a very tough fight for the Dervishes, as it should be.


Henry Martini13 Sep 2018 4:14 p.m. PST

It's interesting that the author assigns the jezail a maximum range of only 80 yards. So much for all those long range, sharp-shooting tribesmen so dear to the hearts of colonial wargamers.

sausagesca20 Sep 2018 2:24 p.m. PST

Hi Henry,
I suspect that in narratives that emphasize lower level actions that 'perhaps' local marksmanship might be noted, but in battle, volume of fire is more important as marksmanship will be compromised in the chaos and stress. Here the inherent limitations of the smoothbore would affect effective ranges. This is all to say that both kinds of narrative might apply circumstantially.

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