{short description of image}  


Ali Ahmad Jalali


Subtitle - From the Great Game to the Global War on Terror, University of Kansas Press, 2017, 617 pgs., index, notes, bibliography, maps


Reviewer comment -

This is a very important book that provides essential information and analysis of the history of Afghanistan which is vitally needed today by everyone concerned with recent and current events in that country. Very few Americans (including those making government policy) have this essential understanding. In this book the author provides so much detailed history that it is almost overwhelming. The complex interactions of dozens of individuals, dozens of clans, tribes, many external political agents; all shifting over time, requires intensive study. Practically all the names the author identifies are unknown to Americans. The names of battles, places, military units and irregular forces are unknown. The extensive detail that author provides on the weapons used, sizes of forces engaged, casualties, tactics, strategies, political objectives are all mostly unknown. Yet they must be to enable rational evaluation of real conditions and situations today. As an aid to the reader, I have attempted to provide links to other sources such as encyclopedia articles to which the reader may turn.

The author is exceptionally well qualified to write this important study. He is a scholar, patriot, professinal military officer, diplomat, Senior government official, teacher, author and historian. He personally participated in the Afghan wars against the Soviet invaders and the struggle against the Taliban. He is multi-lingual in all the primary sources for this history. He knows personally many of the leading Afghan officials involved in the recent 40 years of conflict there. The descriptions of events, personal motivations, official policies and military operations all reflect his personal career experiences. The maps are valuable for the reader's understanding.
The author's biography is here. {short description of image}



The reader is greeted with a summary of the entire book. "Military history is virtually the history of Afghanistan". The remainder of the introduction summarizes the truth of this statement. However, warfare serves a purpose -it is a means rather than an end. Ambassador Jalali writes that the nature and mode of warfare changes with the social, political, cultural and economic environment in which it is waged. Above all it is influenced by the beliefs of those who are waging it.

He writes: "The nature of the military forces that emerged and operated on the Afghanistan political scene throughout history has been conditioned by the makeup of the state-security relationship and the dynamics of projecting power within a changing environment". And: "Thus, there were a variety of military institutions created and nurtured by dynasties, empires, tribes, and communities to achieve their distinctive goals and secure their particular interests."

This book sets the author's detailed professional military descriptions and evaluations of the numerous strategies, operational concepts and tactics employed by an enormous variety of actors over 2000 years in the contexts of these broader social/political environments, while also elucidating the personal beliefs and objectives of the hundreds of individuals. He identifies two different but complementary forms of warfare - regular (conducted mostly by state agencies) and irregular (conducted by the people's natural political agencies - tribes and clans). The two forms were employed frequently together to create a "unique way of war". In this introduction he cites as examples Shah Mahmud Hotak's victory over Safavid forces at Gulnabad in 1722, and Ahmad Shah Durrani's victory over the Maratha army at Panipat in 1761. Observant commentators have noted the effectiveness of the combination of regular and irregular warfare by Afghan warriors. Most recently the Taliban fighters have added explicit use of terrorism to their strategic, operational and tactical playbook.

Still, the author summarizes, warfare in Afghanistan is conditioned by three fundamental realities: the difficult geographic environment, the decentralized sociopolitical human structure, and the "multiplicity of military institutions within that decentralized population. The result is the extreme difficulty of a centralized 'state' to monopolize power throughout its claimed domain."


Chapter - 1 A Distinct Geography and a Turbulent History

Ambassador Jalali understands the critical importance of geography in general and terrain in particular. Man lives and fights in a specific physical area of land and water. Along with the terrain itself the soldier must consider climate and weather, which are influenced by the geography. The author provides in this chapter a detailed understanding of how the specific geography of Afghanistan has determined so much of the nature of life and warfare conducted in this region. Viewing the geography broadly, one sees that the extremely high and rugged mountain chain across the center divides the landscape to inhibit a power on one side from easy control over the other side and to enable inhabitants of the valleys in the center to maintain significant independence. While the lands to the north, west, and south merge with the adjacent external regions, enabling outsiders to attempt to control at least those areas.


Chapter - 2 - Highlights of the Past: From Antiquity to the Emergence of Modern Afghanistan in 1747

The history of Afghanistan spans millennia. To discuss it all at depth would require several volumes. The likely interest of the reader today is on the 20th and 21st centuries. But this is so much influenced by the events of the not so recent past that the author is right to focus on modern Afghanistan since 1747. Nevertheless the events that occurred during previous centuries have had impact and do show the continuity of the nature of warfare over these centuries. The author therefore compromises and describes the earlier military events in sufficient detail to illustrate that continuity. In summary it shows the two sided nature of near continual warfare there. On one side, the local inhabitants divided by geography into local groups continue to fight each other.

(That is not surprising, the first Mesopotamian cities fought each other over small plots of land. And the classical Greek cities continually fought each other and so did the Renaissance Italian cities).
Occasionally the military resources of all or most of the Afghanistan area could be unified to enable a central power to expand its control over neighboring territories. Thus, for a time different Afghan rulers managed to control much of Persia twice, and (more significantly) toward the end of the period described in this chapter Afghan rulers managed to incorporate the region now called Pakistan into their domain and even were involved in the support of the Muslim empire at Delhi against the Hindu Maratha rulers from southern India.
But the location and geography of Afghanistan created another stream of warfare. It lies in the central position between three neighboring regions in which competition was conducted on a grander scale. And the rulers of all three sought to control Afghanistan for their own benefit, or at least to prevent the powers in the other regions from taking control. The author has selected enough of the events and personages of the centuries of warfare to illustrate how, while rulers and their powerful political organizations came and went, the nature of their campaigns, strategies and tactics continued, only being enhanced by developments in technology and religion.

Ambassador Jalali identifies: "three sets of constant struggle between rival forces:
1 the struggle between migrating hordes and the natives;
2 the war of settled communities against the nomads;
3 the strife between the religion's followers and the unbelievers".

The author in 60 fact filled pages leads us on a whirlwind tour across this battlefield - that is, Afghanistan, from the arrival of the Medes and Persians to the entrance (reluctantly) of Afghanistan into the 'Great Game' about 1747. Along the way we meet three world class conquerors; Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane; all three rampaging through Afghanistan, leaving millions of dead in their wakes, without permanently annexing it into their empires, along their way to India. Between these there were the Arabs, many smaller scale fry who did not annex the region permanently politically but did permanently change the population's religion and much of its culture. But they too, moved on into Central Asia and northern India spreading the new faith. And we witness an expansion of religious belief as a motivational factor itself generating conflict: Zoroastrianism versus local tribal beliefs, Classical Greek religious concepts versus Zoroastrianism, Islam versus Zoroastrianism, Islam versus Buddhism, Islam versus Byzantine Orthodox Christianity, Islam versus Sikhism and Hinduism. Sunni versus Shi'a Islam. Sunni and Shi'ite Islam versus western materialism.

We visit fabled grand cities that were founded, became cultural as well as political centers, were destroyed, rebuilt again and again; among them: Balkh (which no longer exists), Margiana, Herat, Kandahar, Ghazni, and Kabul. These remain, but also remain the scenes of continual local warfare. In addition to 'world conquerors' we met dozens of lesser lights, both individual Afghans and outsiders and dynastic 'empires'. Including, Cyrus the Great, Darius I, Bessus, Diodotus, Parthians, Sakas, Kushans, Ephthalites, Arabs, Turks, Kabul Shahis, Zunbils, Rutbils, Abu-Muslim, Amir Yaqub Laith Safar, Barmakids, Tahir ibn Hussein (Tahirids), Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khwarazmids, Amr Laith, Alptigin, Sebuktigin, Sultan Mahmud, Gandhara, Alauddin Hussein, Bahram-Shah, Ghiasuddin ibn Sam, Mu'izuddin Mohammad (known as Mohammad Ghori), Shah-Rukh, Ulugh Beg, Babur Mirza, Safavids, Shah Abbas Safavi, Shah Suleiman Safavi, Shah Sultan Hussein, Shaikh-ul-Islam Mohammad Baqer Majiisi, Abdali Afghans, Mir Wais Khan, Shah Mahmud Hotak, Shah Ashraf, Nader Quli Afshar, Ahmad Shah Durrani, and Timur Shah.



So we have witnessed the overture - 2000 years in 60 pages. We observed human actions stemming from personal beliefs, but the actors had many and frequently opposing beliefs. We are now ready to observe the coming main acts - 200 years in 458 pages. The author's level of detail shifts dramatically - it is indeed a drama (all the world is a stage). We read about different actors, and groups of actors. But are they fundamentally the same or different when it comes to motivations? What games are they playing? Human actions remain based on motivations based on beliefs. The nature of the conflicts remain the same at one level. Indigenous leaders and 'would-be leaders' are still striving to dominate each other as they struggle to oppose external domination. But the scale of the external domination has greatly expanded. Afghanistan was once the battleground of 'world conquerors' whose motivations were personal and relatively limited. Now Afghanistan has become a battleground of 'world powers' whose motivations are corporate, institutional, bureaucratic and conducted on a world wide scale.


Chapter - 3- The Great Game and the British Invasion of Afghanistan 1809 - 1839

This is a great chapter describing the almost irrational beliefs of the British in the possibilities of (first - Napoleon) and then Tsarist Russia in crossing Afghanistan to conquer India. Belief generated action. The action began as farce and turned into tragedy. As usual, we find the two sets of continual struggle (domestic power wielders inside Afghanistan) and (external among the personnel of the surrounding 'great' powers, Britian - British India, Persia. Russia, Sikhs, Bukhara emirs) extremely complex in themselves but exponentially escalated when the two sets are mixed into each other.

Consider domestic affairs in Afghanistan.
Structurally (institutional) there are at least the following: A would be central government at Kabul, official government appointed territorial local governors in several cities such as Kandahar, independent governors in such places as Herat, tribal chieftains trying to dominate their own of many tribes throughout the country, clan chieftains vying with their own tribal chieftains, the tribes and clans disputing hegemony over territory with other tribes and clans, religious leaders seeking to exert authority: Dozens of individuals within each of the mentioned groups seeking to manipulate or over throw their own official bosses. And many of these figures are dealing with or attempting to deal with one or many simultaneously of the foreign powers.

Consider the foreign powers.
Britian - politicians of several competing parties plus 'advisors' adopting changeable 'policies' with respect to Afghanistan to suit their own power - governor generals and other British officials attempting to maintain British control of India in the face of multiple indigenous rulers - Sikh. Sind, Mogul, and Maratha rulers seeking to increase power. Plus a rebellion (Indian Mutiny) and conflict between its own Muslim and Hindu units over the issue of using 'pig fat' anathema to the one - versus using cow fat (anathema for the other) as the grease for rifle cartridges.

Imperial Russia seeking to expand control over the Central Asian khanates, and expand influence in Persia while maintaining relationships with the other European powers, especially Britain. And there were numerous individuals competing with each other over making the policies to achieve these objectives.

Persia - the central ruler concerned to maintain his personal power - the government defending Persia against Russia and Turkey to the west, while seeking to expand into Afghanistan in the face of British power there.
The British main concern was Russian expansion. To counter it they sought to establish 'friendly' buffer states in a defensive belt- Persia, Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, Sikh Punjab and Sind. But the objectives of these independent rulers were conflicting. The British solutions largely turned out to be misguided or failures.

The story:
In 1809 Shah Shuja, ( a Durrani) the ruler at Kabul and nominal ruler of Afghanistan was deposed by Shah Mahmud and exiled to India. Afghanistan devolved into civil war. Shah Shuja attempted to regain his throne but was defeated by Amir Dost Mohammad Khan (A Barakzai). From then on the British had to seek support from one or the other or both at the same time. The British also had to support Maharaja Ranjit Singh who ruled a powerful Sikh state and army in Punjab in order both to protect its western border and defend against the Marathas from southern India. But Ranjit Singh captured Peshawar and its local area in 1834 and installed Sardar Sultan Mohammad (brother of, yet enemy of, Dost Mohammad) as local satrap.. And Peshawar was the long time winter capital of the Afghan rulers. Dost Mohammad's non-negotiable demand was return of Peshawar. Meanwhile the Persians, now ruled by Mohammad Mirza Shah Qajar, with Russian military assistance, besieged Herat in an effort to regain Khorasan.-The British needed major Afghan participation to prevent Persian control of Khorasan. Afghan 'central' government of Dost Mohammad would oppose without return of Peshawar. Ranjit Singh would not agree to relinquish it. What to do?

The British cabinet and Parliament was concerned about the Persians in northwestern Afghanistan and the contention between the Kabul ruler and Ranjit Singh. The Afghan princes were even more disunited. The British governor general of India, George Eden, First Earl of Auckland, made his decision. The British depended on the friendship of Ranjit Singh and the Sikhs than on Dost Muhammad in Kabul. To obtain a pliable ruler in Kabul (and hopefully more) the British would depose Dost Muhammad and instal Shah Shuja. And as a further pretext they would mount a British expedition across southwestern Afghanistan to remove the Persians from Herat and Khorasan. This required an all out mobilization of available British forces in India - elements of both the Bombay and Bengal Armies would assemble in Sind and advance through Quetta to Kandahar and from there march north to Kabul while detaching a force to march northwest to Herat. Both armies were composed of a mixture of British European units and Indigenous units including Sikhs, Gurkhas, and others. Plus, Shah Shuja raised a small army to accompany the main British forces, and the Sikhs commanded by Prince Timur were to advance directly from Peshawar through the Kyber pass on Kabul. Jalali comments that the "campaign plan violated many tested military principles and was a high-risk venture".

Ambassador Jalali describes in detail down to the regimental level the organization of the forces, the concept of operations, the very difficult logistic problems, the few major battles (really only one) and continual skirmishes as the British spent 10 months to reach Kabul. As always, he also describes in detail all the Afghan forces, both regular army and iregular tribal elements. He describes the weapons used on both sides. One very interesting detail is his description of the Afghan locally made Jezail, a powerful, long barreled, large caliber rifle that greatly out ranged the British muskets. A factor that was to prove decisive.

Meanwhile the Persians had been defeated at Herat, in a siege which ended in September 1838, that Jalali also describes in detail, eliminating one British justification for invasion. But the campaign proceeded anyway, beginning with initial movements of the two armies in November and December of 1838. Besides a vivid narration of the events and individual performances, Jalali incisively critiques strategic operational, tactical and logistic decisions and performances.

Army of the Indus and Afghan Army
Professor Jalali describes both armies in detail. The British called up units from both the Bengal and Bombay Armies including both British and Indian infantry and cavalry regiments. Their initial strength Jalali gives as 30,000 combat troops plus thousands of rear area support and camp followers..
The Afghan armed forces consisted of both the Amir's regular army, units of local governors and many tribal militia.

Kandahar was occupied without significant opposition. Shah Shuja entered on 8 May, 1839 and was crowned king. There was a major battle at Ghazni on 22 July 1839. Outside the fortress masses of local ghazis attacked from the hillsides. the Amir Dost Mohammad attempted to block the British forces at Arghandeh, south of Kabul. The British spies and agents enticed the Khostani tribes north of Kabul to rebel. On 3 August Dost Mohammad Khan abandoned his army and fled north through Bamian and on to Bukhara were he was held by its emir. Thus the British arrived in Kabul with their puppet king, Shah Shuja. They were not to last there for very long.

The author's summary: By the time they completed the initial campaign in Afghanistan they had minimal losses in combat ( a few hundred) but thousands in the support and camp followers. They lost about 30,000 camels and 1,500 horses plus tons and tons of supplies along the way.

Leading personalities:
- Viscount Henry John Temple Palmerston, British Foreign Secretary
- George Eden, Earl of Auckland - British governor general
- Arthur Conolly - British intelligence officer
- Mohan Lal - intelligence officer and spy master
- Alexander Burnes - British explorer, advisor and political officer
- General John Keane - commander of the British force that captured Ghazni and Kabul
- Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk - replacement as king
- Timur Mirza - Shah Shuja's son, led Sikhs through Kyber Pass and then was his choice as replacement governor of Kandahar
- Amir Dost Mohammad Khan -deposed ruler of Kabul
- Sardar Ghulam Haidar Khan - Dost's son and governor of Ghazni, captured in the siege.
- Maharaja Ranjit Singh - ruler of Sikh Punjab
- Sardar Akbar Khan - Dost's son, attempted to defend Khyber pass
- Fateh Ali Shah - ruler of Persia
- Mohammad Mirza Shah Qajar - his grand son and heir
- Muhammad Shah Qajar, ruler of Persia
- Shah Kamran - ruler of Herat
-Vizier Yar Mohammad Khan - vizier at Herat
- Sardar Mehrdil Khan - governor of Kandahar
- Sardar Abdul Rashid Khan governor in Ghazni
- Ghulam Khan Popalzai - raised forces in Kohistan

Persian Invasion and siege of Herat 1837 - final failed assault, 24 June 1838
Battle of Jamrud 30 April, 1837 {short description of image}between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Emir Dost Muhammad Khan
Battle of Ghazni 22 July 1839- There were battles at Ghazni in 998, 1117, 1148, 1181, and 1839. {short description of image}This entry is for 1839, the battle described in this book. {short description of image}There also are Wikipedia entries for the others.


Chapter - 4 - The First Anglo-Afghan War: Occupation, Rebellion, Retreat, and Retribution, 1839- 1843

Here we witness that the British having arrived in Kabul and Kandahar in the preceding chapter are driven out of Afghanistan. For those Americans who know anything about Afghanistan, probably, the single image they have is of Dr. Brydon limping to the walls of Jalalabad as the sole survivor of the British garrison in Kabul. But that is but one incident in three years of complex warfare on several separate fronts.

Dost Mohammad returned and led the Barakzai family princes in widespread attacks to regain power. Shah Shuja continued his cruelty and atrocities increasing the hatred of the population. He mostly remained holed up in the Bala-Hissar fortress at Kabul and was eventually assassinated the moment he ventured out. The British did not withdraw as much as they promised. The Bombay Army did evacuate the country via Quetta. But the British stationed units of the Bengal Army division, (some 8,000 combat troops and many camp followers) in many cities, in effect occupying as much of the country as Shah Shuja nominally controlled. The vast countryside remained under control of the multitude of tribal chieftains. The British garrisons were large enough to incite ferocious indigenous opposition to foreigners but much too small to act as anything but sitting targets for revenge.

The Occupation:
Professor Jalali describes the disposition of the British occupation forces in detail, its units were garrisons in Kabul, Jalalabad, Ghazni, Kandahar, Girishk, Qalat, and Quetta plus Gurkha detachments.

Leading Personalities:
Amir Dost Mohammad Khan - driven from throne then exiled to India
Mir Masjidi Khan Mir, influential throughout, one leader of the insurrection in Kabul
Shah Shuja - returned to throne, then overthrown
Osman Khan Nizam-u-Dawlah, Vizier for Shah Shuja
Mohan Lal - organizer of spes
George Eden, Earl of Aukland, British viceroy of India
Edward Law, Earl of Ellenborough, replacement as British viceroy
William Macnaughten, Envoy and Minister to the court of Shah Shuja
Brig. General Sir Robert Henry Sale- original commander of British expedition - led brigade that was departing Afghanistan in October 1841 held Jalalabad during winter siege 1841-42
Major General William Elphinstone, took command of British forces in Afghanistan in April 1841
Sir Alexander Burnes, British diplomat, killed in Kabul
General William Nott, British commander in occupied Kandahar
Nao Nehal Singh, successor to Ranjit Singh, ruler of Punjab
Akhtar Khan Alizai, leader of Durrani and Ghilzai tribes
Abdullah Khan Achakai ,leader of insurrection in Kabul and murder of Alexander Burnes

Kohistan Uprising, September - October, 1840 - again later
Battle around Bamian Pass, 17 September, 1840
Siege of Mir Masjidi's fort near Charikar, October 3, 1840
Battle of Parwan, November, 1840, Afghan victory
Attacks on British brigade of General Sale between Kabul and Gandamak in Oct. 1841
Attack on Alexander Burnes in Kabul , 2 Nov. 1841
Assault on British Sia-Sang camp at Kabul in Nov. - Dec. 1841 -
Siege of Jalalabad 12 Nov 1841 - 13 April 1842{short description of image}
Disaster retreat of British from Kabul toward Jalalabad {short description of image}
Battle of Kabul, 1842{short description of image}


Chapter - 5 - Geopolitical Changes in Central Asia Leading to the Second Anglo-Afghan War, 1842 - 1879

Leading Personalities:
Amir Dost Mohammad Khan - had 27 sons - reunited Afghanistan, died 1863 during successful siege of Herat
Vizier Yar Mohammad Khan Alkozai - self proclaimed ruler of Herat
Sayed Mohammad Khan - son of Yar, sided{short description of image} with Persia 1853
Mohammad Yusuf - Sadozai chief - ousted Sayed
Sardar Sultan Ahmas Khan - Dost nephew, hero of First Anglo-Afghan war - ruled Herat 1857- 1863
Sardar Ghulam Haidar Khan - Dost son, defended Ghazni in First Anglo-Afghan war, died early
Sardar Afzal Khan - Dost brother, governor of Turkistan - fought Shir Ali for throne
Abdur Rahman Khan, Afzal son - fought Shir Ali for throne
Sardar A'zam Khan, fought Shir Ali for throne and held it briefly
Sardar I'shaq Khan, son A'zam, fought Shir Ali, attacked Balkh 1869, but lost
Amir Sardar Shir Ali Khan, Dost 6th son, named successor 1863 - lost to relatives, regained it in 1866
Sardar Ayub Khan, brother of Yaqub Khan, held Herat then fled to Persia
Kohendil Khan- ruler of Kandahar, died 1855
Nawab Zaman Khan
Sultan Ahmad Khan
Mohammad Shah Khan Babkar-Khil
Sardar Mohammad Akbar Khan - Dost son
Mir Afzal Khan gov. of Kandahar - then of Turkistan at Balkh - Dost son
Amir Yaqub Khan - Sher Ali son appointed regent by father, became heir - signed treaty of Gandamak, 1879
Sardar Akram Khan - Dost 3rd son -sent 1850 to capture Balkh
Mir Nasir Khan Talpur, Amir of Sindh - lost battle of Miani 1843
Mohammed Jan, Afghan commander at battle of Kabul 1879
General Charles Napier - won battle and captured Sindh 1843 {short description of image}(Legend about "Peccavi" {short description of image}
Lt. Gen. Sam Browne, commander of British forces on Peshawar, Kyber - Kabul axis
Maj. General Frederick Roberts, British commander on invasion axis via Kunnar - Piswar Khal Pass and battle of Kabul 1879
General Donald Stewart, commander of British forces to Kandahar
Major Pierre Cavagniac, British signer of Treaty of Gandamak, May 1879, then envoy to Kabul July 1879

Professor Jalali describes these battles in detail.
Ali Masjid Fortress 1878 in front of the Khyber Pass{short description of image}and {short description of image}
Jamrud 1879
Piswar Kotal 1879 on the Kunnar Valley axis{short description of image} and here {short description of image}

There were 'monumental changes' in the generation after the First Anglo-Afghan War.
There were shifts of power inside Afghanistan and in external regions. The situation created new 'conflicts and competitions' Afghanistan internally was weak generating a struggle for power among the decentralized local rulers and would be rulers and the tribal leaders. This was the same kind of struggle during previous and subsequent conditions including after ouster of Taliban
Kokendil Khan returned from Persia to regain Kandahar
Vizier Yan Mohammud Khan murdered Shah Kamran in 1842 and ruled Herat.
Many heroes of the First war sought power and positions.
Amir Dost's son, Sardar Mohammud Akbar opposed his father.
Amir Dost raised and improved a new national army.
Persian influence and operations were against Herat in 1851 and 1856, with Russian encouragement during Crimean war, 1853-56. The British forced Persians out in 1857, but put Sardar Sultan Ahmad Khan as governor instead of Amir Dost.
Amir Dost campaigned to Herat and won siege but died in 1862.
Dost's son, Afzal Khan, ruled Turkistan from Balkh and also improved army. Dost died in 1862, setting off a dynastic civil war. Designated heir, son Amir Shir Ali ruled 1863 - ousted by relatives and returned in 1866 to rule until 1879. He also improved the army.
Professor Jalali describes the army organization and its weapons in detail. Meanwhile the British expanded their control and domain through Sikh territory (2 wars - 1848 - 1849 Battle of Gujrat) to control Punjab and Sindh (campaign 1843, Battle of Miami) and Baluchistan; to the Afghan border.
Russians advanced from Orenburg clear to Bukhara. General Konstantin Kaufman was conqueror and viceroy for Central Asia and attempted to increase Russian power in Afghanistan.
The British has their last chance to influence Amir Shir Ali toward alliance in 1873 but Lord Lytton's attitude wrecked it.
(British attitude toward Indians was much like British commander's attitude toward American colonists in 1750's)
In November 1879 the British demand to send envoy to Kabul was refused at Khyber Pass. Lord Lytton decided on war and so did Amir Sher Ali.

Opposing Forces:
Professor Jalali provides another detailed examination and analysis of the organization, strength and weapons of the Afghan forces. His summary: "Amir Sher Ali's army looked large on paper but it lacked sustainability for fighting drawn-out battles."

British concept of Operations:
They would advance along three axes - north from Peshawar through Kyber Pass to Kabul - middle through Kurran Valley and Piswar Kotal (Pass) - south from Sindh via Quetta to Kandahar.
November 21 1879 attack strong Ali Masjid fort and reach Jalalabad by 20 Dec. November 21 cross border on Kurran axis - Dec 1-2 defeat Afghan defenders at Piswar Kotal (Pass).
General Donald Stewart reached Kandahar without resistance.

Amir Sher Ali Khan fled north to Afghan, border expecting aid from Russians General Kaufman. He found he was betrayed and died on Feb 21, 1879 at Mazar - i- Sharif. He appointed his son, Yaqub Khan as heir. Amir Yakub accepted the very one sided British treaty of Gandamak in May 1879 which was signed for the British by Major Pierre Cavagniac, who entered Kabul on 24 July.
This ended the first phase of the war and began the much more vicious second phase.


Chapter - 6 -The Second Phase of the Second Anglo-Afghan War 1879 - 1881

Leading Personalities:
Amir Yaqub Khan
Sardar Ayub Khan, governor of Herat
Sardar Sher Ali, a member of the Kandahar Sardar families.
Sardar Abdur Rahman Khan- of the Dost Mohammad clan and son of Amir Afzal Khan and cousin of Sher Ali
General Daud Shah - commander in Kabul
Lord Edward Bulwer Lyton, governor general of India
Lepel Griffin - British Foreign Service officer
Major General Bright - British commander Jalalabad
General Frederick Roberts
General Donald Stewart
Sardar Nek Mohammad Khan -tried to stop British advance at Chaharasis
General Mohammad Jan Khan - tried to attack British as they occupied Kabul
Mulllah Mushk-i-Alam - Religious leader of Afghan attacks on British

Battles: Professor Jalali describes these battles in detail, with size and names of the units involved, the objectives and tactical plans of both side and the results. For several he has detailed tactical maps. Some of the most important or famous also have Wikipedia entries.
Insurrection in Kabul 1879 {short description of image}
Battle of Chaharasis (Charasiab) 6 Oct 1879 {short description of image}and {short description of image}
Battle of Ali-Masjid 21 November. 1878 {short description of image}and {short description of image}
Battle of Futtehabad, 2 April 1879 {short description of image}
Battle of Pinjar Kotal 1879 (chapter 5)
Battle of Chahar Dehl 1879 {short description of image}
Siege of Sherpur cantonment 23 Dec., 1879 (Battle of Kabul){short description of image}
Battle of Ahmad Khel 19 April, 1880 {short description of image}and {short description of image}
Battle of Maiwand 27, July 1880 {short description of image}and {short description of image}
Siege of Kandahar 1880, August 1880 {short description of image}
Combat at Deh-Khuaja 16 August, 1880-{short description of image}
Battle of Kandahar 1 September, 1880 {short description of image}

The British invaded Afghanistan in a rapid advance along 3 axes but did not advance to Kabul.
Amir Sher Ali died and was succeeded by his son, Yaqub Khan.
On 24 May, 1879 the British and Afghans signed the one-sided Treaty of Gandamak.
The British began to withdraw toward Peshawar and returned Kandahar and Jalalabad to Afghan government but with British residents.
Major Cavagnari was sent as official British envoy to Kabul.
Yaqub Khan appointed his brother, Sardar Ayub Khan as governor of Herat. He was very strongly anti-British and sent 6 of his regiments to Kabul, where they promptly caused trouble.
On 3 September, 1789 an anti-British riot in Kabul quickly expanded into a full massacre of the British there including Major Cavagnari.
The British immediately decided to invade Afghanistan again and began assembling forces under Major General Bright to capture Jalalabad, and Major General Sir D. Stewart to retake Kandahar. A large force commanded by Major General Sir. F Roberts was designated the Kabul Field Force to occupy Kabul. Other troops remained to occupy Kurran Valley.
Amir Yaqub Khan went to ask General Roberts not to invade.
On 6 October General Roberts defeated the Afghan blocking force at Sang-i-Nawishta and Chaharasia and occupied Bala-Hissar fortress at Kabul on 12 October. Whereupon Amir Yaqub Khan abdicated his rule and was soon exiled to Peshawar.
By December 1879 large masses of Afghan tribal forces were assembling to eject the British from their camp at Sherpur outside Kabul. General Roberts decided to attack these Afghan forces before they could unite, but his plan was unrealistic and poorly executed. The result was a complex movement of separated British units chasing Afghans through passes and valleys. He suffered tactical defeat in a battle at Chahar-Dehi and was forced back into the Sherpur cantonment.
The Afghans occupied Kabul and began the siege of Sherpur. The situation was very similar to the siege of 1841, except the British had a larger and better equipped force.
An Afghan massed attack on Sherpur took place on 23 December. General Charles Gough's brigade from Jalalabad arrived the following day.
The British routed the Afghan besiegers and reoccupied Kabul. By March 1880 they were reorganizing and repositioning their units. The British force in Kandahar was divided, with General Primrose commanding small Bombay Army forces, remaining there, while General Stewart would move his regiments north to reinforce the British at Kabul. The British believed Kandahar was in no serious danger.
Stewart departed Kandahar on 8 April.
By 18 April Stewart's column was being followed and harassed by multi-tribal forces along his route.
On 19 April Stewart decided to force a battle at Ahmad Khel, which he won.
On 21 April Stewart's forces reached Ghazni, where he had to fight and win over another Afghan tribal force.
In May, Sardar Sher Ali was made governor of Kandahar.
On June 14th 1880 Griffin presented Lord Lyton's demands to Sardar Abdur Rahman Khan describing the future relations of the Afghan government with the British.
On July 20th Abdur Rahman was made Amir in Kabul.
On 27 July Sardar Ayub Khan, marching from Herat to Kandahar, routed Brig. General Burrows' outnumbered brigade at Maiwand northwest of Kandahar. The next day Brig. General Brooke left Kandahar with a small relief force to rescue the survivors of Maiwand. Then the British abandoned positions outside the strongly fortified city and awaited the coming siege which began on 8 August.
On 16 August the British attempted a sally and were defeated at Deh-Khwaja.
The British in Kabul had planned on evacuating via direct marches east. But on 9 August General Roberts had to lead a strong force south, back to Kandahar. By forced marches Roberts was approaching Kandahar by 18 August, when General Primrose by dispatch informed him that Ayub Khan had lifted the siege and established a defensive position north of the city. The combined British commands now out numbered Ayub Khan's army.
On 1 September General Roberts attacked Ayub Khan's positions outside Kandahar but the battle is generally named the Battle of Kandahar nevertheless. The British routed the Afghans.
On 8 September the first British units departed Kandahar for India. The remainder departed on 16 April 1881.
But in July 1881 Sardar Ayub Khan again attacked and captured Kandahar. Amir Abdur Rahman Khan left Kabul and took command and defeated Ayub Khan on 22 September. Ayub Khan fled to Persia and then to British India.

Ambassador Jalali comments; There were continual raids, riots and ambushes but only nine major tactical battles of which the Afghans won 3 and the British won 6.
At operational level the British retained control over only the territories they occupied, a small part of Afghanistan.
At the strategic level the British India government expanded its influence, took control of the area between the Indus and Afghanistan mountain range to secure a defensible western border, took control of Afghanistan foreign relations. But at huge cost - nearly a disaster - The basic pre-war status quo was retained. The financial cost was 20 million pounds sterling, There were large loses including 50,000 casualties. Transportation means were disrupted including loss of 90,000 camels.


Chapter - 7 - A Period of Uneasy Peace and the Third Anglo-Afghan War, 1880 - 1919

Leading Personalities:
Amir Abdur Rahman Khan - ruled from 1880 - 1901
Amir Habibullah, Abdur Rahman's son 1872 -1919 -assassinated
Sardar Nasrulllah Khan, Habibullah's brother, proclaimed himself Amir but failed
Amir Amanullah, Habibullah's younger son, became Amir, proclaimed independence of Afghanistan
Ghulam Haidar, Afghan postmaster in Peshawar who instigated local efforts for uprising there.
General Nader Khan, commander on the Khost front in greater Paktia province
General Saleh Mohammad Khan - his movements on Afghan frontier in 1919 led to conflict, then commander on the Khyber front
Prime Minister Sardar Abdul Qodus Khan, commander on the Kandahar front
Lord George Nathaniel Curzon, British Governor General of India until 1905, he reorganized the Afghan frontier, separating it from the Punjab, creating the North West Frontier Province, which still influences local government in Pakistan
British Viceroy, Viscount Frederic John Napier Thesiger Chelmsford
General Charles Munro, British commander in Chief in India during the Third Anglo-Afghan war
Sir George Roos-Keppel, British civilian chief Commissioner of the North west Frontier province an expert on Pushtun affairs.
Summary of conditions: Professor Jalali describes these under the following headings

Pacification and Integration
The new Amir, Abdur Rahman Khan spent 12 years in defeating opponents and local uprisings of which that of the Hazara was the worst.

External Affairs
Abdur Rahman's main effort was the define Afghanistan's borders with India and Russian Central Asia. The British forced the Russians back and established the border. In 1891 the border with Persia was established. The Wakhan Corridor was created to separate Russian Tajikistan and establish a border with China. But the border - Durand Line - was never accepted by Afghanistan. It divided the Pushtun tribes and placed many mountains and valleys into India - now Pakistan. Abdur Rahman annexed (non- Muslim) Kafiristan in 1895.

Rebuilding the Army
Abdur Rahman rebuilt the Afghan central government army as the military force needed to create a unified Afghanistan. He had British assistance. Professor Jalali describes the process in detail

The Development of Afghan Nationalism
Amir Habibullah sought national modernization, which accompanied increased popular conceptions of nationalism . This was influenced by similar ideas in India and the world-wide effects of the First World War. Meanwhile Russia and Great Britain settled their competition in Central Asia - Afghanistan - Tibet - India. The entry of Muslim Turkey on the German side increased Muslim thought throughout the region for self-determination.

Amir Amanullah and the Declaration of Independence
Upon his replacement of his brother, Habibullah, Amanullah vented his anti-British views and considered independence a part of general modernization and national improvement. He decided to take advantage of the changing world scene, the increased Muslim fervor and anti-British movements in India. The immediate event was a British attack on Sikhs at Amritsar. Amanullah mobilized troops and sent them toward the border, but gave strict orders not to cause any reaction from the British.

Tension Increases on the Border
Despite Amanullah's orders Afghan commanders by 2 and 3 May had caused reactions. Afghan troops occupied strategic Bagh village and Kafir Kot ridge, but failed to advance to take Landi Kotal. The immediate British reaction that drove the Afghan units out of Bagh forestalled greater Afghan offensive and resulted in the various tribes on the British side of the Durand line to remain passive. The British also rapidly forestalled a planned Afghan- Muslim uprising in Peshawar. On 6 May the British declared war on Afghanistan.

The Third Anglo-Afghan War
Professor Jalali describes this war as significantly different from the first two in terms of its political content, purposes, dimensions in time and space, violence and outcome. It was limited to operations along the border, lasted only a month, but did end British interference in Afghan foreign affairs. Also, the first two wars were results of the British- Russian competition to gain control of Afghan territory in opposition to each other. The Third war was due to British concern about revolts of the Pushtun tribes along the border that might increase the independence movements in India.

The Opposing Military Forces
Again, Professor Jalali describes the forces of both opponents in great detail, stressing his military appraisal of their strengths and weaknesses. He includes not only order of battle but also specifics about the weapons held by both sides, including the British aircraft.
The Afghan Aim of War and the Campaign Plan
The author identifies Amanullah's objective as obtaining Afghan independence. His strategic campaign plan had three coordinated actions: simultaneous attacks by regular and tribal forces at six points along the border; create an uprising of the Pushtun tribes on the British side and riots in India; and expected mutiny of Indian (especially Muslim) regiments. The shift of military defense of the Afghan border by Lord Curzon - removal of all British units and creation of organized local Pushtun units such as the famous Khyber Rifles and Chitral Scouts - placed success by each side on the defection or loyalty of the Pushtun tribes in the event of an Afghan invasion.

The British Campaign Plan
The British exercised economy of force, offensive, and mission - they would attack on the Khyber axis (that directly threatened Kabul), while maintaining defensive on the other axes. The immediate objective would be Jalalabad. With General Charles Munro acting as commander in chief from HQs at Simla, the North West Frontier force, commanded by General Sir Arthur Barrett, would advance, while the Baluchistan force, commanded by Lt. General R. Wapshire, would hold that wide sector. Professor Jalali describes the units and equipment that comprised each force.

Operation on the Khyber Line
Professor Jalali describes in detail the terrain, disposition of units and tactical movements from 6 - 9 May around Landi Kotal and Bagh, which constitute the first battle of Bagh, a local British setback against entrenched Afghan regulars and swarms of local tribesmen. Note that while the local Afghan tribes (but so far not the Afridis) but (including elements of the Khyber Rifles) joined the Afghan regulars, the British Indian Army regiments there were Sikhs and Gurkhas, no friends of the Afghans.

The Second Battle of Bagh and Advance to Dakka
Recognizing that delay would encourage more local tribes to revolt, General Fowler renewed attacks on 11 May. Jalali provides an excellent tactical diagram map of the actions. His tactical plan was to push the Afghan right flank and then roll up their entire position. The British were entirely successful, forcing the Afghans to retreat after incurring significant casualties. Realizing that this tactical victory should be rapidly expanded to forestall more local tribal uprisings, the British quickly advanced to seize Dakka, which they secured by 16 May.
On 15 May Amanullah declared Jihad war to drive the British out. More regular units and experienced generals were dispatched to Jalalabad.
The British suffered from continual Afghan attacks on the Dakka camp, but the Afghans failed to launch sufficient attacks that would have overwhelm the isolated British units. Meanwhile attacks along the Khyber Pass route forced the British to deploy two more divisions to hold it open and keep the Afridi from revolting.
Peshawar itself was becoming increasingly vulnerable.
The British air forces expanded bombing to Jalalabad and Kabul.
The uprising of the tribes in Waziristan (the same area that supports the Taliban today) forces the British to expand strategic operations.

The Chitral Front
The Afghans launched an offensive into Chitral in May, expecting to be joined by the local tribes. They apparently did not understand that the Mehtar (ruler) there was firmly a supporter of the British who had enabled him to seize his family Throne. But quick British actions and their retention of local tribes enabled them to drive the Afghans back on 23 May. (see links below)

The Kurram Front
General Mohammad Nader's mission was pass through the Kurram valley to stir up the Waziristan tribes to attack the British. He reached Gardez in April where is proceeded to organize the local tribes for the campaign and send agents into Waziristan. In May he and his two brothers advanced along three separate routes. The British defense was commanded by General Eustace. Professor Jalali describes the deployments of both sides in detail. The British were spread rather thin along the mountainous border. Many of the Wazir tribal warriors joined the Afghans. The main Afghan attack centered on the British frontier fort at Thal, located on the Kurram River at its confluence with the Sangroba and Ishkalai Nala rivers.
Thus came the Battle of Thal in 27 May - 2 June 1919. Professor Jalali describes this, again, in great detail with a tactical battle map. It was a siege of the Thal fort and battle between the Afghan attackers and the British relief force, which was in the process of driving General Muhammad Nader's forces back when Nader received an order from Amanullah to cease operations and withdraw due to the operation of an armistice. Meanwhile other Wazir and Mahsud tribes had begun operations throughout a wide area forcing small British detachments and posts to withdraw.

The Southern Front
The Afghan campaign from Kandahar into Baluchistan and southern Waziristan had the same objective - to raise tribes to Jihad against the British. But Sardar Abdul Qodus Khan was late in reaching Kandahar from Kabul and in beginning an offensive, so was preempted by the British launch of their operations in May. General Wapshare's plan of operations was to concentrate on capture of the powerful Afghan fortress at Spin Boldak key to the road to Kandahar. Again, Professor Jalali provides a detailed analysis of the local terrain and then of the order of battle on both sides and their weapons - and a tactical map. The British scored a victory con 27 May. Sardar Abdul Qodus Khan did not reach Kandahar until 31 May..

The Peace Agreement
The cease fire agreement became official on 3 June 1919. Amanullah realized that British air power as well as insufficient support for the Afghans in India made an end to fighting necessary. The British realized that continuing military campaigns would expand and increase the anti-British uprisings of the Pashtun tribes and might spread even into India. Amanullah, however, would not compromise on his insistence at complete Afghan independence. The peace conference began on 26 July. he new Treaty was signed on 8 August.

The Tribal Fallout
Despite the official peace treaty, the many tribes along the border, that had been goaded into action by the Afghan agents remained at guerilla war for months. And their military strength was a worse opponent for the British than the regular Afghan army.

The Outcome and Lessons Learned
The Rawalpindi Treaty of 8 August marked the official independence day for Afghanistan. Professor Jalali analyzes the war and its results. He considers Amanulllah's broad strategic plan to have been excellent, but its execution was faulty, disorganized, lacking of central direction. He notes that despite the war lasting only a month or so, the size of the combat forces in the field was much greater than in the preceding wars which each lasted over 2 years.

The British battles are described in the article on the Third Anglo-Afghan War {short description of image}
Battle at Punjdeh with Russian invaders, 30 March 1885
Battle of Ghilzai uprising 1886-87
Sardar Ishaq Kahn rebellion 1888
Hazara revolt 1888-91
First and Second Battles of Bagh, 6-10 May, 1919
Battle of Thal, May 27 - June 2, 1919
British Attack on Spin Boldak, 27 May, 1919
And there were many smaller or local revolts.


Chapter - 8 - Afghanistan under King Amanullah and the Civil War, 1919 - 1929

Leading Personalities
Shah Amanullah
Shah Babibullah Kalakami, overthrew Amamullah and ruled briefly
General Mohammad Nader Khan, Afghan commander at battle of Thal, led military overthrow of Babibullah
Shah Mahmud Khan, governor of Jalalabad, raised tribes against Babibullah
Ghulam Nabi Khan, led brief invasion from Russian Central Asia to Mazar-i-Sharif
Sayed Hussein, commanded Afghan forces to expel Soviet invasion

Main Events
The Third Anglo-Afghan War left Afghanistan broke. King Amanullah had to enforce austerity measures, while increasing taxation. The government also began issuing paper money, which of course depreciated.
In 1920 a team of Turkish military instructors led by Jamal Pasha arrived to teach army modernization. He was frustrated and departed in 1921, but his new army organizational structure remained.
Imperial Russia efforts to gain influence in Afghanistan were replaced by Soviet ideological efforts.
King Amamullah's foreign policy was to balance off Soviet Russia and Great Britain. Professor Jalali describes the years of diplomatic shifts in detail.
King Amanullah's strong efforts at modernizing Afghan society drew opposition and a major uprising at Khost in 1924.
In 1927 the king and queen visited many west European countries.
At the same time King Amanullah's foreign policy included continual efforts to incite the border tribes including in Waziristan to rebel against the British. He pursued a strong pan-Islamic and anti-British policy.
Upon their return they renewed efforts at Westernization which generated renewed opposition and rebellion in 1928. The king also softened his anti-British policy.
Encouraged and supported by religious leaders a former soldier, Habibullah, led a major armed attack on Kabul in 1929.
King Amanullah abdicated and retired to Kandahar.
Habibullah Kalakani captured Kabul and proclaimed himself Amir. He remained in fragile power for 9 months.
In 1929 Amanullah attempted to regain his throne by marching from Kandahar, but was stopped at Ghazni by the Ghilzai tribe warriors. He gave up and eventually moved to Italy.
As usual, with the King gone, civil war again erupted. In 1929 Nader Khan, General Mohammad Nader Khan, his brothers, Shah Manmud Khan, and still others raised tribes to overthrow Habibullah. The struggle went back and forth with alternate successes and failures. Eventually Habibullah was captured and executed and Nader Khan was proclaimed king.


Chapter - 9 - The Cold War and the Soviet Invasion, 1929 - 1979

In this chapter the detail really becomes extensive and overwhelming. The author was personally involved at the highest levels in the Afghan government and military. The previous chapters described the background. This and following chapters is the foreground. The infighting between individuals and political or ethnic or tribal groups follows the historical pattern. The external political players continue to seek to control Afghanistan. The stakes the external players consider critical become much greater than those in the 'great game' of the 19th century. The technological tools are much more powerful. It is not practical in this brief overview essay to discuss all this detail. But by now the reader, hopefully, will realize that he should study it all carefully.

Leading Personalities:
Nader Shah
Abdul Rahman Taraki - attempted uprisings
Ghulam Nabi Khan Charkhi and his brothers, continued supporters of Amanullah
Mohammad Zahir Shah, son and heir of Nader Shah
Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan - led coup against King Zahir Shah
Burhanuddin Rabbani founder of Jamiat-i-Islami, professor at university
Gulboddin Hekmatyar, founder of Sazman-i-Jawanan-i-musulman at university
Nur Mohammad Taraki - leader of Afghan Communist Party, PDPA, Khalq group
Hafizullah Amin - help organize the coup against Daud Khan in 1977 - killed by Soviet special troops during coup
Babrak Karmal - deputy leader of PDPA, leader of Parcham Communist group - then Soviet puppet ruler
Ahmad Shah Massoud - northern leader

Events: There were continual uprisings by various tribal groups including the Kalakani who lived close by north of Kabul.
In 1932 Nader Shah proclaimed a new policy plan that retained Islam as the basis of law but encouraged diplomatic and commercial modernization.
He signed a new treaty with the Soviet Union.
He managed to restore peace within the country.
But he continually faced opposition from supporters of King Amamullah who expected Nader Shah to restore the King.
He faced opposition also from both conservatives and liberals who believed he was either doing too much or not enough modernization. In November 1932 Nader Khan had Ghulam Charkhi beaten to death. Result was that in November 1933 a student Charkhi supporter killed Nader Shah.

Professor Jalali identifies the main trends during the long reign of Mohammad Zahir Shah.
Rebuilding the armed forces to crush internal opposition;
the partition of India created Pakistan as a neighbor;
the influence of the Cold War.

The Modernization of the Afghan Army
Professor Jalali describes this process in great detail

Indian Partition and the Issue of Pashtunistan
The creation of a separate, Muslim, Pakistan split from India brought the long festering issue of the Durand Line to the fore. The line had arbitrarily divided the dominant Pashtun tribes in half. The referendum that was held to let people vote, only provided two options - either join Hindu majority India or Muslim Pakistan. Uniting into Afghanistan was not an option. Of course Afghanistan protested but was ignored by Britian and the United States. Both had much larger, world-wide, objectives. The United States also refused numerous Afghan appeals to buy arms from the U.S/. Naturally the Soviet Union jumped at the opportunity.

Soviet Military Penetration

The Cold War and Sociopolitical Changes

The 1973 Coup and the End of the Afghanistan Constitutional Monarchy
In July 1973 Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan led coup against his cousin, King Zahir Shah. The Communist groups quickly gained power and expanded influence with Soviet Union. By 1977 Daud was attempting to remove Soviet influence.

The April Coup: The Sawr Revolution
On 17 April 1978 the Khalq faction of the PDPA led an uprising by Afghan army and air force officers and coup against Daud. Hafizullah Amin was local leader who issued final order. Nur Mohammad Taraki was declared head of the new Revolutionary Council and prime minister Hafizullah Amin became Foreign Minister.

The Communists' Rule
The small Communist group lacked any support in Afghan society. They soon faced opposition and uprising. This led to extensive arrests and executions. In March 1979 the city population of Herat revolted along with a army infantry division. Thousands died in the subsequent Communist government regaining the city. Taraki urged the Soviet government to send troops to his aid. The Soviet leaders were dismayed and reluctant to intervene. But by 1979 they decided that something had to be done and began preparations to send in army units. A KGB unit was dispatched. Uprisings continued throughout the country, including by regular army units. Hafizullah Amin was the main official conducting the most violent government retaliations. In summer of 1979 Amin was plotting against Taraki, of which the KGB warned Taraki. But in September Amin succeeded in ousting Taraki and having himself appointed chairman. Taraki was murdered. The Soviet Politburo decided that intervention was necessary to remove Amin and replace him with Babrak Karmal.

The Plan for the Regime Change
The Politburo initially planned to remove Amin quietly, without a large Soviet military intervention. But the KGB plan failed and the Soviet military insisted that much more forces would be needed.

Decision for Military Invasion
Professor Jalali describes the planning and execution of this operation in great detail. He provides excellent tactical maps.

Operation Storm 333
And so the operation was executed. Amin was poisoned, but survived long enough to be executed by KGB special troops. Simultaneously the Soviet 40th army divisions and brigades crossed the Amu Darya and occupied their assigned assembly areas. They learned that their war had just begun. As the British had learned three times during the previous century.


Chapter - 10 - Soviet Occupation and the War of Resistance, 1979 - 1989

Professor Jalali uses Soviet, Afghan and western sources for a comprehensive analysis of the conflict from detailed tactical actions to high level political and international policies. He opens the chapter with a very interesting appraisal of the Soviet concept and objective. The main Politburo leaders did not want to get involved in Afghanistan. But they believed that the problem was the failure of the Afghan leadership, especially Hafizullah Amin who was alienating the public with draconian reprisals. Their plan was the remove him and replace him with Babrak Karmal, whom they believed they could manage. Previous efforts by the KGB alone had proven failures and the military claimed that a powerful, but brief, appearance by Soviet troops could pacify opposition quickly and then withdraw. They over estimated the level of popular approval the Afghan Communists had in the country and under estimated the level of military resistance the rural Afghan society could muster. They very soon found out they had been wrong on both counts.

Leading Personalities
Hafizulla Amin - Communist party factional leader who had seized power
Babrak Karmal - Soviet selected ruler to replace Amin, and then also replaced
General Alexander Maiorov, chief Soviet military advisor
General Gromov - final Soviet commander
Mikhail Gorbachev -Soviet Premier
Najibullah- replaced Karmal as leader of PDPA and government as President
Amad Shah Massoud - leader of northern Mujahedin forces
Gulboddin Hekmatyar - founder of Hezb-e Islami radical group
Burhanuddin Rabbani - leader of Jamiat-e Islami
Mawlawi Yunus Khales - leader of Hezb-e-Islami Khales
Abdur Rab Rasoul Sayaf - leader of Etihad-e-Islami

Phases of the War
-1- December 1979 - Feb. 1980 - Soviet invasion and executed security operations
- 2 March 1980 April 1985 - Combined major military operations
- 3 April 1985 - April 1986 - Soviet force at largest strength - 'year of decision' in which they attempted win
- 4 May 1986 - Feb. 15, 1989 - Soviet leaders established a new Afghan government and attempted a political solution then withdrew the Soviet forces.

The Political and Geopolitical Conduct of the War

The Asymmetric Conflict and Ways of War

The Foundation of the Afghan Resistance

Mujahedin Tactical Operations

The Soviet Miliary Operations

Examples of Major Combined Operations - 1980-89, Part 1: Military Operations in the Panjsher Valley

Examples of Major Combined Operations - 1980-89 Part 2: Offensive Operations on the Zhawar Base

Examples of Major Combined Operations - 1980-89 Part 3: Operation Magistral

Professor Jalali writes: The war created tremendous losses for both sides. Soviet casualties were 14,453 dead, 53,753 wounded, 415,932 sick plus missing. And he lists huge materiel losses.
Afghanistan losses included 1.2 to 1.5 million civilians dead, 5 million refugees and 2 million internal displaced. The war also destroyed the infrastructure including water system, many government buildings, social disruptions, subsequent civil war.
He writes: "No war in the past had ever caused so much social change in Afghanistan - it ripped society apart vertically and horizontally." And: "The war left no party untouched." The war led to the break up of the Soviet Union. And the war also led to the "mentality of Jihad, which motivated a world wide terrorist network centered in war-devastated Afghanistan".


Chapter - 11 -The Civil War and the Rise of the Taliban, 1989 - 2001

Professor Jalali summarizes: 'The Soviet withdrawal and the end of the military occupation of Afghanistan did not end the war. The war merely entered into a different stage, as the Kremlin continued to supply and support the Moscow-backed government in Kabul while the Mujahedin's Western backers kept open the pipeline of weapons and money flowing to the resistance forces.' In this chapter he provides detailed information about events, personalities, political plans and objectives as well as numbers of weapons and military supplies

Leading Personalities:
Najibullah - Soviet backed president and leader of the Parcham wing of the Communist Party
Shahnawaz Tanai - defense minister and leader of the Khalq wing of the Communist Party
Abdul Ali Maari - leader of the unified Shi'a political groups
Pakistani General Hamid Gul - encouraged the premature attack on Jalalabad in 1989
Gulboddin Hekmatyar - leader of Hezb-i-Islami - continued his independent efforts to obtasin power.
Ahmad Shah Massoud - leader of Tajik Mujahedin forces in north, while also opposing Hekmatyar
Abdul Ali Mazari - Hazara leader of Shi'a Hezb-e Wahdat - killed by Taliban in 1995
General Rashid Dostum - Uzbek commander of military forces in nothern Afghanistan
Burhanuddin Rabbani - emerged in 1992 to act as interum government leader - invited OBL to Afghanistan
Ismail Khan - controlled Herat during this period
Mullah Mohammad Omar - former Mujahedin and religious leader who was selected by Talibs as their leader in 1994.
Mawlana Fazi Rahman - fundamentalist leader of Jamiat-i-Ulema-e Islam who gave significant support to initial Taliban campaign.
Osama bin Laden - leader of al-Qaeda moved to Jalalabad in 1996.

The Najibullah government continued to attempt to discredit the Mujahedin. It also greatly expanded the Afghan armed forces with a greater amount of armament.
The Mujahedin continued to attempt to overthrow Najibullah, but was split into rival factions
The Najibullah government continued its internal conflict between the Khalq and Parcham groups.
The Pakistan government continued to seek its own objectives by support of certain Mujahedin groups, especially Hekmatyer.
Iran sought to increase the influence of Shi'a parties.
In 1990 Tanai and Hekmatyer attempted a joint coup to overthrow Najibullah
In 1990 US President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev reached some agreement about future conditions in Afghnistan, but it was another year before much was accomplished. But by 1992 the Soviet agreement and loss of power and American focus on Iraq resulted in American loss of interest in Afghanistan affairs.
In 1991 the Iranian and Pakistani foreign ministers reached an agreement on sharing power. Pakistan continued to arm the Hekmatyr and Sayaf forces.
In 1992 Tajik Ahmad Shah Massud, Uzbek General Rashid Dostum, and Iranian backed Abdul Ali Mazari formed the Northern Alliance. When Najibullah resigned and attempted to fly to India he was apprehended at the airport and forced to remain at the UN headquarters.
The Northern Alliance rapidly captured Kabul, thwarting Hekmatyer's efforts. Hekmatyer then his continual opposition by beginning to shell the city with rockets. He continued to attack the new overnment in Kabul.
Professor Jalali observes that both government and armed forces then collapsed. As usual all the factions began struggling for power. A temporary agreement was reached in April establishing a brief administation by Sebghatullah Mujaddedi followed by another, longer, but interum administration led by Burhanuddin Rabbani. But Hekmatyer continued to wage civil war against the government. Mujahedin groups fought each other throughout the country.
In 1993 neignbor countries obtained an agreement by which Rabbani would be president and Hekmatyar would be prime minister for a year and other groups would receive various cabinet offices. But the fighting continued.
In 1994 Dostum, Hekmatyar, Wahad and Mujaddedi joined in a failed attempt to defeat Rabbani and Massoud and capture Kabul. The civil war expanded from personal power struggles, ideological differences, religious differences to include ethnic conflicts as well.
Professor Jalali's appraisal: "The trend defied classic norms of warfare and widely accepted military concepts. Instead of war being a 'continuation of politics by other means'; militarized politics was an extension of war through other channels."

The Battle of Jalalabad
Soon after the Soviet withdrawal, in Marck 1989, some Mujahedin elements with Pakistani support attempted a premature conventional attack on Jalalabad and were badly defeated. Professor Jalali describes the battle and results in detail.

The Regional Actors
Pakistan continued throughout to interfer in Afghanistan for its own strategic purposes - namely confrontation with India. It set various Mujahedin factions aginst each other and favored those that were Islamists supported by its military, such as Hekmatyar.
Iran was trying to secure its own rear border but did not follow a systematic strategy.

The Rise of the Taliban
Professor Jalali provides a full description of the origin and initial purposes of this movement. It was formed by former Mujahedin leaders studying in Pakistan in 1994 with the objective of clearing the various criminal and factional elements out of Kandahar. He notes that the reality is a mixture of genuine Afghan religious students wanting to eliminate crime and oppression in Kandahar and a planned recruitment by Pakistani ISI to enable it to gain greater influence in Afghanistan. Pakistan was getting tired of supporting Hekmatyar in all his repeated failures to win.
In October 1994 the Taliban members with considerable support by Pakistani ISI drove the Hekmatyar units out of Spin Boldak, thus opening the road route between Kandahar and Pakistan for Pakistani commerce. This victory set the Taliban on its way to power and was a major change in the civil war.

The expansion of the Taliban
The puritanical Sunni movement gained popular support by its ouster of the corrupt, gangster elements from Kandhar and then by 4 years gained control of 90% of the country. They also had support from the Pashtuns who felt their loss of power to the Tajik lead Northern Alliance. And they had strong support from Pakistani intellige4nce officers, Saudi Arabia and Arab fundamentalist fighters. They captured Kabul in 1996. This generated a reaction by the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Shi'a groups. And their puritanical version of Islam - supported mostly by rural Pashtuns - was not so popular in the major cities. In early 1996 Osama bin Laden arrived, bringing more fundamentalist Arab fighters. He declared war on the United States in August 1996. He helped finance the Taliban and opened training camps. At the same time the Taliban power generated rifts in the Pakistan- Iran efforts to establish peace -of course on their own turms. Both Aghan sides then had foreign backing.
The question of constructing a pipe line from Turkistan across Afghanistan generated more controversy. In 1998 the U.S. sruck Msama's camps with cruise missles.

The Iran-Taliban Standoff
In August 1998 the Taliban recaptured Mazar-i-Sharif. They were accused of massacring thousands of Shi'a Hazara civilians in the process, as well as some Iranians. This generated increased Iranian military preparations. But actual military intervention was impractical. The overall situation was that the Taliban, by its own extreme actions created its own international and domestic opposition.

A Military Review of the Conflict
In this section Professor Jalali provides a military analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the contending opponents in the continuing civil was - the Taliban versus the Northern Alliance (1996-2001). The size of the forces available for combat varied. Professor Jalali estimates that the Taliban had a base of 25,000 that could expand to 40,000. The unitedFront had 12,000 to 15,000 on its main axis to the south near Kabul and another 10,000 in the northern mountains.
The Pashtun Taliban, led by Amir-ul-Momenin Mullah Mohammad Omar, controlled most of the territory but the United front, led by Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massoud, maintained control not only in the far north, but even on the Salang tunnel highway near Kabul. He points out that the official government established army had disintegrated . And neither of the contending sides had institutions capable of organizing a national government.
The Taliban militia units varied widely in composition, quality, experience, loyalty and effectiveness. Both sides did have some elite militia units they could operate under command of experienced veterans whose names designated the unit. The Taliban began conscription. Pakistin supplied religious fundamentalists and There were similar volunteers from Arab countries, Kashmir, Caucasus, Tajikistan and China. Meanwhile Taliban controlled Afghanistan became a training groud for OBL's international terrorist network.
The United Front military was also a mixture of various armed groups. But its main force was the highly trained and well orgqanized army created by Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Diverging Operational Concepts
Professor Jalali describes Ahmad Shah Massoud's concept of opertations as guerrilla war - a war of attrition, in which he relied on movement and survival.
He describes the Taliban operations as rapid strikes by troops mounted in pickup trucks. And in preparation of the battlefield by political measures. Their light forces were not effective in ruggen mountainous areas. They were ideologically motivated but poorly trained and vulnerble to counterattack.
He describes the Taliban offensive in summer 1999 north of Kabul as well planed but poorly executed in 5 days as it did gain considerable territory. But it then they lost almost all that gain in a 6v hour counter offensive by Massoud's well planned counter attack.

The Unconventional Use of Conventional Weapons
In tis section Professor Jalali decribes in great detail the many different weapons used by either side, from Kalashnikov rifles to tanks, rockets, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. He notes the general failure to use the weapons effecively, but also the clever modifications they sometimes made to enable effectieness in the difficult terrain. He notes the general poor logistics.
The Decline of the Taliban
The author notes that the Taliban lost much of the civilian support that it had relied on in its early years because the population concluded that it had not lived up to their expectations. Actually, they became unpopular. Their harsh treatment of Tajikis and Hazarasand extreme fanatical fundamentaslist conception of Islam alienated many modern oriented Afghans. Their reliance on pakistanis and the al-Quada terrorists generated foreign opposition. The wanton destruction of the Bddhist statues at Bamian generated international outrage. Their initial support of poppy -drug - production also was a public relations problem.
In September 2001 two al-Quada terrorists assassinated Ahmad Massoud. Professor Jalali, who was the Minister of Interior of Afghanistan from 2003 -2005, states that he conducted the subsequent investigation that remained inconclusive as to the otiations for this attack. But no doubt it proved detrimental because it the combinerd Northern Alliance and American offensive campaign quickly defeated both the Taliban and al-Quada.


Chapter - 12 -The US Invasion, the Fall of the Taliban, and the Bonn Process 2001 - 2005

The chapter is a detailed 'blow - by- blow' examination with maps from the initial American operation which defeated the Taliban up to the conclusion of the Bonn Process efforts to defeat the resurgent Taliban. Professor Jalali was personally involved -and has written much about this. It should be required reading for anyone involved in Afghanistan today.

This is in the following topics:

The War Strategy

The Campaign Plan

The Main War Fronts

Diversionary Raids on Kandahar

The Battle for Mazar-i-Sharif

The Battle of Kabul

The Battle of Kanduz

The War in the South

The Battle of Tora Bora

The Bonn Conference

The Battle of Shahikot - Operation Anaconda

The Bumpy Road to Peace.



The structure of the previous chapters has been to describe the events and participants in some detail and then to analyze and critique them. The structure of this concluding chapter reverses this method - The theme is the analysis and critique of events and policies since the start of the American intervention and supply suitable examples of events and personalities to illustrate. The author of course was a direct participant himself in activities during much of this period.

The chapter is a devastating critique of the failures of both the U.S. Government and the Afghan Government to build on the initial defeat of the Taliban and expulsion of al-Qaeda from the country.
Professor Jalali opens with a note that the initial American intervention, in contrast with every previous 'invasion' by foreigners, was greeted with huge friendship and great hopes that it would succeed not only in expelling the enemies but also bring permanent peace and prosperity to the nation. By then the country was experiencing a disaster in all aspects of life. However, as he points out, the American intervention was rather an historical accident due solely to the coincidence that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack on New York were based in Afghanistan.
He continues: "The euphoria, however, did not last long, as the foreign aid failed to live up to the people's expectations in spite of some major changes in the country."
He lists four causes for the subsequent deterioration.
nation building on the cheap;
tactics without strategy;
a failure to integrate domestic authority structures;
competing regional actors.

He narrates, describes and evaluates the events, efforts, and results in the following sections:

The Afghanistan Compact


Counterinsurgency Operations

Major Counterinsurgency Operations

2008: The Moment of Truth

The Military Surge and the Exit Strategy

The Policy Debate

The Transition

Looking Ahead


Further References:
I provide Wikipedia entries for some of the more important personages and places mentioned by the author that might be of further interest for the readers.


Jalali, Ali - "Rebuilding Afghanistan's National Army" - in Parameters, Vol XXXII No 3, Autumm, 2002 - This is Professor Jalali's summary of the historical problems leaders in Afghanistan have faced for centuries when attempting to create a national army totally responsive to and loyal to the central government. Unfortunately his excellent recommendations as of 2002 have not yet been fully implemented.

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Afghanistan - The entry in the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica provides historical information not found in recent encyclopedias.


Stein, Sir Aurel - On Alexander's Track to the Indus, Castle Books, Edison, N.J., 2004 (reprint of 1929 edition, index, illustrations, maps - The author mentions this story. On one of Sir Aurel's many archeological expeditions he found the famous Aornos mountain fortress that Alexander stormed on Pir-Sar mountain in present day northwest Pakistan. Stein quotes extensively from Arrian, Diodorus and Curtius. His reports from his three expeditions across the Northwest Frontier territories of British India prior to WWI provide valuable information of the social conditions typical then also of Afghanistan. {short description of image}


Arrian - trans Pomash Mensch - ed, James Romm - Anabasis Alexandron - The Landmark Arrian


Fox, Robin Lane -The Search for Alexander, Little Brown and Company, Boston, 1980, 452 pgs., index, bibliography, illustrations, maps


Grousset, Rene - The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia, Rutgers Univ. Press, New Brunswick, 1970, index, notes, maps


Marozzi, Justin - Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World, Da Capo Press, Bury St. Edmonds, 2004, 449 pgs., index, bibliography, chronology, illustrations, paperback


May, Timothy - The Mongol Art of War, Westholme, Yardley, 2007, 214 pgs., index, notes, bibliography, illustrations

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Kushan Empire - Wikipedia article

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Bactria - Wikipedia article

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Herat - Wikipedia article

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Kandahar - Wikipedia article

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Kabul - Wikipedia article

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Bamian, city and Pass - Wikipedia article

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Afghanistan - Wikipedia article

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Invasions of Afghanistan - Wikipedia article

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Abdur Rahman Khan - Wikipedia article

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Ahmad Shah Durrani - the founder of the modern Afghanistan - Wikipedia article

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Durrani Empire - the original modern Afghanistan that included Pakistan, Kashmir, Punjab and parts of Iran -Wikipedia article

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Akbar Khan - Wikipedia article

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Chinggis (Genghis) Khan - Wikipedia article

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Ala ad-Din Muhammad II - Wikipedia article

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Jalaluddin Mungabet - Wikipedia article

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Kunduz - Wikipedia article

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Tokharistan - Wikipedia article

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Khorasan - Wikipedia article

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Balkh - Wikipedia article

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Sistan -Wikipedia article

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Durand Line - Wikipedia article

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Tamerlane - (Timur) - Wikipedia article

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Saffarid Dynasty - Wikipedia Article

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Yaqub ibn Laith - Wikipedia article

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Mughal Empire - Wikipedia article

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Safavid dynasty - Wikipedia article

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Ghurid Empire - Wikipedia article

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Ghaznavid Kingdom - Wikipedia article


Battle of Terain, 1192

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Battle of Parwan, 1221 - Wikipedia article

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Battle of Gulnabad, 1722 - Wikipedia article

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List of heads of state of Afghanistan since 1709 - Wikipedia article

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First Battle of Panipat 1526 - Wikipedia article

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Siege of Kandahar - 1605 - Wikipedia article

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Third Battle of Panipat 1761 -Wikipedia


Further references for later chapters.

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Shah Shujah Durrani - Wikipedia article

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Dost Mohammad Khan - Wikipedia article

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Amir Abdul Rahman Khan (ruled 1880 - 1901)

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Chitral state - Wikipedia article - a fascinating place, independent princely state

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Chitral - Wikipedia article - capital of the above princely state

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Bala Hissar - the fortress above Kabul, scene of much excitement during 18th and 19th centuries - and even during the civil war in the 1980's.. Wikipedia has good photos also {short description of image}

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Simla - also called Shimla - was the British summer capital during the Raj. for obvious reasons - it is located high in the cool mountains. - was headquarters from which many orders cited by Prof Jalali originated.

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Hazaras - Wikipedia article

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Kafiristan - Wikipedia article

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Taliban - Wikipedia article

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Osman bin Laden - Wikipedia article

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Sardar - from the Persian - equivalent to Arabic - Amir -denotes a senior prince or military commander - like Field Marshal


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