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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 57

Right Zone (defensive)

Right Zone (defensive).

The main hill roads penetratsing this zone from Afghán-Turkistán, exclusive of those viâ Chitrál and Gilgit, are four in number; two of these verge into one at Bamian.

Supposing 7,500 troops to advance by each—a hazardous operation considering the want of intercommunication between them, and only to be attempted against an Asiatic foe—30,000 men is the greatest force of the first advance that need be met, if met in time, and but a proportion of these could come into the fighting line.

If the passes over the Hindú Kush are ill-defended and troops be allowed to debouch from them, they become open to the passage of successive bodies, and the number that may be concentrated at Kábal is determined only by what the country can support by its own resources and what the transport can bring up from the base, say:—
Supported by local resources 60,000
Supported from base 20,000
Total 80,000, inclusive of camp followers.
page 18

The first case only will be considered, for to allow 50,000 Russian troops to concentrate about Kábal is tantamount to giving them the province in perpetuity.

To meet the first case 30,000 troops will err on the side of safety, 15,000 being pushed forward to defend the passes and 15,000 held in reserve, in bodies of 5,000, in prepared positions to the rear, ready to aid any of the advanced parties compelled to retire and to block all egress.

To take the initiative 10,000 of this reserve could be pushed through the hills, should the satisfactory progress in the Southern Zone render it advisable.

With the Afgháns friendly, 10,000 of the 30,000 might be Afghán troops, the remaining 20,000 British, one-half European, one-half Indian.

With the Afgháns unwilling to allow us liberty of action, about 30,000 more British troops would be required in this zone.

Total number of British troops to operate in the Northern Zone:—
Afgháns friendly 20,000
Afgháns unfriendly 60,000

Supplies for the larger number can be drawn from the district with arrangement and the opening of the country to the rear.

In the first case 10,000 Afghán troops are considered to be available.