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Title: British military policy and the defence of India : a study of British military policy, plans and preparations during the Russian crisis, 1876-1880
Author: Preston, A. W.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3499 2894
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1966
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The aim of this thesis is to articulate and analyse, from the point of view of the defence of India, the British military and strategic implications of the Russian crisis, 1875 - 1880, the greatest crisis involving a major European power to confront British soldiers and statesmen between the Crimean and Great Wars. It is hoped thereby perhaps indirectly to illuminate the making of military policy in the immediate post-Cardwellian era, the influence of military, especially Indian military, considerations upon European diplomacy, and the genesis of a scientific approach to questions of Indian frontier defence. Chapter I analyses the character of the Russian threat to India in the Near East but mainly in Central Asia in terms of the emergence of Pan-Slavism, Milyutin's Prussian-inspired military reforms and the adventurism of Russia's Central Asian policy; and sets in contradistinction the fundamental factors governing the formulation of a British Indian defence policy - political influence and intelligence facilities in the buffer states, and military and naval capacity for offensive warfare. It exposes by implication the fundamental duality in Britain's Indian military policy that was to be aggravated and intensified by the simultaneous Russian threats to Merv and Constantinople. Chapter II, emphasising the shift in the strategical centre of gravity from Central Asia to Europe, discusses Colonel Home's mission to Constantinople as the first real attempt at defence planning, which showed that Constantinople could not be defended militarily except under such extraordinary conditions as would allow of the Reserves being called out, produced a wide divergence of views over war policy and suggested alternatives in the defence of Constantinople, by naval action alone, the assistance of a Continental ally, or by territorial compensation or all three. Chapter III discusses Cabinet military policy in terms of these three factors in view of an imminent Russian occupation of Constantinople; but the failure to achieve an alliance, to make adequate naval or military preparations or to create a reliable intelligence service resulted in some ludicrous defence measures that were fortunately averted by Plevna. Against this background, chapter IV discusses the Indian military policy conceived in the face of a simultaneous Russian threat to Merv, and shows how Lytton's attempts to gain time by raising the Central Asian tribes were frustrated by European complications, a surly Salisbury and finally Plevna. Chapter V analyses British military policies, plans and preparations provoked by San Stephano and tries to show how far they could have brought victory had war with Russia eventuated and how far they contributed to bringing Russia to the Berlin conference table. At the same time, the Cyprus Convention policy showed the ascendancy of Indian defence over European interests, and chapter VI discusses the final stage of this development in a discussion of the second Afghan War.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available