Military Study of Afghanistan Considering its Geography, History and Politics


Étude militaire géographique, historique et politique sur l’Afghanistan (Military study of Afghanistan considering its geography, history and politics) is an analysis of the military and strategic situation in Afghanistan, written by a French officer early in the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878–80 and intended to help explain the conflict to a French audience. The book is in eight parts, covering 1) Preliminary facts; 2) General data on the country and its population; 3) Borders; 4) Orography and hydrography; 5) Routes and thoroughfares, including passes and canyons, towns, and strategic points; 6) Domestic infrastructure (political and social as well as military); 7) History; and 8) “Political relations between England and Afghanistan, from the beginning of the 19th century until the events that led to the current conflict.” The part on routes and transportation is particularly well developed, and includes analyses of the routes into and through Afghanistan that the author classes as “eastern” (the road from Peshawar to Kabul via the Khyber Pass; the road from the Indus to Kabul via the Kurram Valley; and the road from the Indus to Ghazni via the Gumal Valley); “southern” (from Jacobabad to Kandahar, via Dadar, the Bolan Pass, Quetta, and the Khojak and Khwaja canyons); “center” (from Kandahar to Kabul via Ghazni); “western and northwestern” (the road from Kandahar to Herat; and the roads from Herat to Persia and within Turkestan); and “northern and northeastern” (the road from Murghab to Kabul via Balkh, and northeastern routes and routes to eastern Turkestan and China). Three maps of important military routes illustrate the discussion, and there is a short list of terms in French and their Afghan or Persian equivalents to help the reader understand the etymology and elements of geographical names. The book consists of extracts from the February, March, and April 1879 issues of Journal des Sciences militaires (Journal of military science).

Last updated: September 30, 2016