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The Aeroplane in British Border Wars Manchester, England, March, 1920. HEN the Great War ended we had only just discovered the full possibilities of the aero nlane In imagination we saw all kinds of W of putting it to decisive and economical use. in Articular, the highlands of the northwest frontier of frdia were constantly cited as a region where the rminable " punitive expeditions" against recalcitrant Jibesmcn could be carried through rapidly with the airman's aid. Half the battle in these tangled moun tain rcgi ni is to know where and when the tribesmen air gathering fof the attack. The aeroplane, so the experts said, would be able to see the "other side of Jju. hill" and would enable the frontier authorities to dispense with the numerous patrols which they at present maintain. , .uly so, but it would work havoc on the tribal eacatnpments and on the columns as they advanced toward India through the narrow defiles which alone (I)U. gj from the mountains toward the Indus River. o e reminded ourselves complacently of the damage wrought by the airmen after Allenby's victory j- Palestine against the Turkish forces retreating through i lie narrow valleys toward the passage of the Ionian and we thought that the development of the ajr service luring the war had given us a short cut out of the tiresome frontier campaigns which are a marked and costly feature of Indian Government. Tins theory was soon to be put to the test. When, on the top of the disorders in the Punjab last spring, the Afghani crossed the frontier, many of the border tribesmen, the Mahsuds and Waziri, took the field along with them and, worse still, part of the tribal militia revolted and went over to the Afghans with their .urns. A word about this militia. There was for many years in India a "forward" party and a "for ward " policy. The "forward" party was all for pressing on into the hill-country against the unruly tribesmen, who were forever engaged in raids and pillaging expeditions, and even 'for an advance, if there wen an excuse, into Afghanistan. They insisted that the Afghani could not be trusted and that the only ufe c urse was to pene I . .. . W t 1 trate their country, and, coming out on the other side, await the Russian at tack which in those days the "for wards" always in I ited was inevitable. But those days passed, and with them the "for ward" policy. A more sober mood prevailed and in Lord Curzon'l time as Viceroy it was accepted that the advanced fron tier posts should be with drawn and that this No Man- land of tumbled tribal country should be held, not by British troops, either white or native Indians, but by levies from the tribes who inhabited it, to he called a militia and paid by the Indian au thorities On the whole the system had worked well, but the latest Af ghan war and the pros pect the rich plunder of the plains were too much for the militia's loyalty. EVEN had the Afghan ended in a de cisiv defeat for the Af ghans, the question of what sh be done with the revolted tribesmen would have been difficult. But the rms of the Peace Treaty showed that in fact the Afghans had, to say the least, fought a drawn battle. The Amir did indeed lose the annual Wbsi Ij which the British Government had paid for mam years, but the In dian Government formal ly abandoned the right of controlling the foreign re lations of Afghanistan, to which right hitherto it had wways attached the ut most importance. In other Words, the Amir had now he right to enter into re lations, if he chose, with the Russian Government Ttne one thing of which n-' Indian Government "an always been afraid he lost no time in ng b,s opportunity. An tgnan mission was very 22;it Moscow. The in ttCbbt character of the W wai not lost on the trcmtier tribes, who, even I Z th had raw, continued an 'here a"5 EX? ta.n 1 a,nd therc man H a. footing on the Hnt,sh sde of the fron- 1 I t t Jtwo dollars IT WON T PAY MY ncome t . . . : . f , . . j , J : VrVuNOvv I f PUT TWD DOLLARS V GOTACOMEl t V , (ON EACH PAIR FOR TME JGOTA INCMEJ r WHY-n I , INCOME TAX - ' -4r - ii should I hmr- , r'TS jm I 1 1 y By W. P. tier. Hence the campaign which, after several months of fighting, still continues. In this expedition for the first time native troops alone were used, led by the white officers. It was suggested that the usual stiffening of white troops was not needed because the aeroplane would damage and demoralize the tribes, much as during the war it demoralized the native Egyptian labor corps, who used to flee post-haste down the Sinai railway track when an aeroplane appeared overhead. And at the beginning the aeroplane was re ported to have done great things. The villages of the Mahsuds were sought out and severely bombed, so that the principal among them was reduced, according to the telegrams, to a mere heap of dust ; it was not stated whether there were any non-combatants in these vil lages nor, if so, what became of them. After a time the tribesmen were reported to be seeking peace and the aeroplane seemed to have been fairly vindicated as a weapon of frontier war. But no sooner was surrender foreshadowed than fresh fighting was reported and a series of engagements of no agree able character was fought by the invading Indian col umns. The Mahsuds resemble closely the Highlanders in the eighteenth century, and like the wild Scots men in Neil Munro's "The Road" and Steven son's "Kidnapped," they resented especially the driv ing of a great road into their country and the order that they should give up their arms. The telegram describing this last grievance took one at once to the passage in "Kidnapped" in which Alan Breck com plains of the Highlandmen's enemies that "they plucked the weapons from the hands of the clans men, that had borne arms for thirty centuries." So the war went on and the airman's attack with it. It was then discovered that beyond question this sort of Who Pays the -- --- . .ii x M -l r ! I ' V. "" ' - m 1 1 I I - s .i.. -s sZOC. J WU (W. . . 'I I PAY AN INCOME ItT V ' (X That'll -H I TAX. SEE' .'-vMil .hiV- PAYYouRCOML 'U GROZIER Income Tax? terrain and this type of enemy did not make for the airman's success. The hills were pitted every where with clefts and caverns in which the tribes men and their families could take easy refuge, and they showed a marked disinclination to present them selves in compact masses for the airman's benefit. They were far from being demoralized; on the con trary, their naturally warlike character was rather sharpened than blunted by this method of attack. We are compelled to revise our opinion: for warfare against martial tribes in mountain regions the aeroplane is by no means as effectual as we had thought it. But now comes another little war, short and sharp, and a great triumph for the airman who has won it almost single-handed. Again it is a question of the abandonment of an old and accepted policy. In Brit ish Somaliland. just south of Abyssinia, there has lived for over twenty years a Mullah called the "Mad." He is the chief of a force of Dervishes, and ever and anon he has appeared out of the interior of the country, raiding and oppressing the tribes friendly to the British and occasionally cutting up a British outpost. There have been many expeditions against him, but none has er killed or caught him. He has been driven back into the desert or has re tired of his own accord the most profitable tactics that he could pursue but whatever losses he has suffered, he has always made his escape and always, after an interval, appeared again, surrounded by the Dervish force which in these regions the "holy man." be he called Mahdi or Khalifa or mere Mullah, can always gather round him. THE British Government eventually decided that the game of pursuing this elusive Mullah was not worth the cost and it adopted a policy of holding only the coast line of Somaliland and leaving the interior, which is barren and worthless anyway, to the Mullah if he chose to want it, a policy at once cautious, economical and wise. During the war there were no troops to spare in any case for such profitless side-shows as this, and the Mullah was left severely to himself. He took advantage of his immunity by emerging from the interior, attack ing the "friendlies" again and installing himself in strong stone forts and substantial encampments on our very doorstep. It was this that led to his undoing. For. natural ly enough, he did not know about the aeroplane, and when he did it was too late for regret . This "little war" be gan on January 21 and ended on February 9, with virtually no cas ualties to the British side. The stone forts and camps were pounded to pieces from the air and the Mullah fled to his last stronghold, which was captured in similar fash ion, almost the whole of his following being de stroyed. The story is the exact reverse of the Af ghan border war. On the desert everything is writ ten out flat and plain, and camp and tort stare rigid ly toward the sky. The airman could ask no bet ter target nor an enemy choose a more fatal form of "refuge." But was the victory, then, complete? Alas! truth compels one to con fess that though fort and camp were destroyed and most of his followers killed or captured, the Mad" Mullah himself escaped once more with seventy of his partisans, not a large force, indeed, but large enough to be the nucleus of a fresh army for a man whose holiness ll M repeatedly demonstrated by the com plete failure of the intidel to catch him. It is all too probable that we shall hear again of the Somali Mullah. But even if we do, he will never again, so long as we have the aeroplanes, be the formidable disturber of the peace that he has so often been.