“The Jezailchis are so called from their jezails or long rifles. The Afghans are said to be among the best marksmen in the world. They are accustomed to arms from early boyhood, live in a chronic state of warfare with their neighbors, and are most skilful in taking advantage of cover. An Afghan will throw himself flat, behind a stone barely big enough to cover his head, and scoop a hollow in the ground with his left elbow as he loads. Men like these only require training to make first-rate irregular troops.” — General Colin Mackenzie
Besides his Regular army, the Amir has always available the Jezailchis, which were formerly the only infantry in the country ; they are tiralleurs or light troops, armed with matchlock or jezail, and accustomed to hill warfare; and are perhaps as good skirmishers as are to be found
in Asia, being good judges of ground and distance; instinct teaches them almost to scent an ambush, and it is a current remark in the country that a good jezailchi on a hill side will conceal his body behind his own grass sandals. They are of two descriptions, those in Government pay on a nominal salary of five rupees per mensem (paid chiefly in grain) and armed by the State, and the jezailchis of the different chiefs who generally have a piece of rent-free land assigned them in lieu of pay. The Government jezailchis now muster some three thousand five hundred men, are chiefly employed in holding forts and thannahs all over the country, and are commanded by Sadbashia and Dahbashis, or captains of hundreds, and heads over tens, who receive a proportionate increase of pay and are divided as follows :
With Sirdar Muhammad Afzal Khan in Balkh, 400.
Sirdar Muhammad Azim Khan, 100.
The heir-apparent, 1,000 (scattered over
Kandahar, Gharisk and Farrah).
Sirdar Sher Ali Khan, 300.
Sirdar Muhammad Amin Khan, 200.
Sirdar Muhammad Aslam Khan, 200.
Sirdar Muhammad Sharif Khan, 100.
The Amir’s own, 200.
Distributed over different petty chiefs in bodies of thirty and forty, 1,000
The other jezailchis are the immediate followers of their respective chiefs, and may be considered as mere local militia, liable to be called upon to follow their lords whenever the Government require their services. Of the strength of the latter, it is difficult to form an estimate; but if we take the truest criterion, the numbers which have on former emergencies been collected, I consider that from a thousand to fifteen hundred is the utmost that could be got together at one place, for we must remember that although it is natural for people to talk of combinations to oppose common enemies, and the rising of a population en masse, yet an Affghan hates no one so sincerely as his nearest neighbour if he be more powerful than himself, and that his love of country or any other human tie will always give place to his self-interest or love of revenge; so that a collection of the whole male population for any length of time, for a given object, is simply impossible, although a considerable mob might be got together to make a simultaneous rush for the sake of plunder. — Major H. B. Lumsden
The military heritage of what is now the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan stretches back into pre-history. The Jezailchis are a respectable part of that military heritage, and the new APPF would do well to establish a connection in the mind of the people between them and those old sharpshooters. In America, the Reserve Components of the United States Army and Air Force fedgov.mil “shares” with the States have successfully claimed a heritage stretching back further than the existance of the Republic, which is good for their esprit d’ corps and fosters acceptance and even local pride in the home town heroes. An influence operation promulgating a narrative that the APPF are legitimate Sons of Jezailchis could improve their reputation among the people, fostering cooperation and dispelling fears that they’re just another version of the discredited ANAP.
The jezail is their Kentucky long rifle. Americans have that in common with Afghans. Our Over Mountain Men calculated Arithmetic on the Frontier in much the same way. Our guys teaching Basic Rifle Marksmanship to the APPF need to talk that connection up.
See also Afghan Public Protection Force