Tim Moreman
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‘Watch and ward’
The Army in India and the North-West Frontier, 1920–1939
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The North-West Frontier of India, the most sensitive strategic frontier of the British Empire, posed a complex defence problem for the Army in India during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During the late nineteenth century, the heavily armed trans-border Pathan tribes successfully resisted British encroachment into the difficult belt of mountainous terrain they inhabited which commanded the strategic passes leading into Afghanistan. The brief Third Afghan War of 1919 prompted major military operations against the trans-border Pathan tribes who had actively supported the abortive invasion of India. The Modified Forward Policy aimed at the economic basis of the enduring conflict between the Pathans and British India, and has accurately been described as a strategy of 'hearts-and-minds'. During the 1920s, the Modified Forward Policy, and the complex civil-military framework created for the watch and ward of the administrative border, proved a highly effective solution to the problem of tribal control.

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Guardians of empire

The armed forces of the colonial powers c. 1700–1964


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