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British Strategic Planning and Operations in Central Asia, 1917-1919
by Frederick Dotolo, PhD
The assumptions of any prewar strategy can easily affect and shape wartime operations. In turn, these form part of the historical opinion and can also influence the lessons drawn from a conflict. The danger in this process is that the sampling of operations might be too narrow or colored by the debate which established a strategy in the first place, thus presenting an incomplete understanding of an army's experience. Such appears to have occurred with the British army on the Western Front during the First World War. The idea that the British were ill-prepared for an age of modern industrial warfare is part of the case against the prewar strategy adopted by the British military. This paper will argue that before a complete analysis is possible of the British army during World War I, one must account for the operational success of the limited number of British forces which fought brilliant campaigns in the theatres of Central Asia: Armenia, Central and Southern Persia, and southern Turkestan.