Razmak, the largest garrison in the Tribal Territory, bristled with all the panoply of war, but its inhabitants spent their time waiting for something to happen:
The political officers would have liked us to stay behind our barbed wire for ever. All Pathans are at all times in need of rifles and ammunition to carry on their private wars and blood feuds. The temptation to steal them from us was great, and the easiest way to get a soldier’s rifle was to shoot the soldier when he was on training manoeuvres. On the other hand, the generals knew that the soldiers would go mad if they were cooped up for two years on end in the monastic wilderness. They therefore insisted that we be allowed to take periodic walks through the countryside to admire the views, smell the rare flowers, and keep fit.
Another compromise was reached. Once every two or three months the politicals thought hard, and went on thinking until they had thought of a headman whom they suspected of intrigue or harbouring outlaws or hatching embarrassments to the Afghan Government, and in whose back yard a display of force might therefore be salutary. Then we got ready. Leaving two of its six battalions in Razmak to guard the fort, the brigade gathered its guns and paraphernalia and marched out of the main gate to spend a week or ten days stamping noisily around in the suspected headman’s section of country. Then it marched home again. This excursion was called a column because it usually was just that — a double string of men and animals defiling down the narrow valleys and stony passes.
From John Masters’ Bugles and a Tiger.