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Ask me about Warfare

Discussion in 'Research' started by thecoldembrace, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. Shadowfirelance

    Shadowfirelance Scribe

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    Here's two that I think you might be able to answer;

    1) What was the longest known siege?

    2) The Great Bombard, built with today's technology, would be an equivalent to...?
     
  2. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Well building off of Cold's description of the Bombard used as a tool to create an opening in the target's defenses that more convential weapons can take care of and the fact that today's primary form of defense is information based; radar, electronic communications to provide foreknowledge, etc and so on, I would say that the modern equaivilent to the bombard would be an EMP. This would cripple the target's information gathering abilities and severely hurt their infrastructure. In fact, you can create an EMP by detonating a nuke in the upper atmosphere/edge of space. However considering that this requires, ya know, detonating a nuke and that an EMP doesn't distinguish between knocking out a radar system and knocking out the machines that keep someone on life support alive.... not really the best tactic.
     
  3. 1) I think that'd be the Siege of Leningrad in WWII. That would also be the bloodiest siege in history. Or perhaps the Siege of Troy, but then again, that city wasn't really sieged continuously for 10 full years (according to several historians).

    2) That's quite hard to answer. Because if you'd build that bombard with today's technology, then it would take away all its drawbacks and it'd just be any long-range artillery piece.
     
  4. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    Luckily for me, some of the longest sieges in recorded history belong to the Ottomans. The longest was twenty one years long on the island of Crete that started in 1648 after the Knights Hospitaller foolishly attacked the Ottoman navy bringing the plunder they obtained and part of the Sultan's harem to the city. Its now in what we call Heraklion. In the end the siege could not be broken by outside interference on the side of the knights, and the Ottomans could not breach the defenses. In the end Crete was ceded to the Ottomans in return for the safe passage of all Christians wishing to leave out of the area. It also led to several noisy naval engagements between the Ottoman navy and the Venetian navy.

    As to what the great bombard with today's technology would be... thats an interesting and very difficult question. It wouldn't be anything close to the original, it would be a cannon and that's about all they would have in common. I'll have to think on this one.

    -Cold
     
  5. Oh wow, I sure missed on that first question. Leningrad was only two years and a couple of months if I recall correctly. That's only a difference of nineteen years or so. Oh well!
     
  6. TywinLannister

    TywinLannister Acolyte

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    Hey, I'm back again :) sorry to change the topic but I have a new question.

    I was learning about formations for soldiers on the battlefield (things like the wedge and the line) then went on to learn about maneuvering. I know the Romans used a checkerboard-like system and in one of the battles in Game of Thrones, Tywin put his weakest rabble at the front to tire his enemy before charging with his strongest knights. I also know that attempting a pincer maneuver is a classic going way back to Marathon, but my main question is, what other maneuvers throughout history would commanders attempt after they had deployed their soldiers into formation?
     
  7. Double envelopment is a good technique, and you don't even need disciplined troops to do it. You just put the mellowest soldiers at your center, have your enemy push inwards (so your line becomes concave) and then the sides of you line will wrap around his. Hannibal Barcas used that technique at Cannae, but it has been used quite a lot in history.

    Oblique order is another good one, favored by Frederick II of Prussia. Basically, you use overwhelming force on one end of the line to rout it, while using a smaller portion of troops to hold the rest of your line. Routing their flank will not only cause a panic, it will allow you to flank the enemy. You do, of course, have to rely on your men to hold the center and the other side of the line against superior numbers (in the hypothesis both armies have about the same numerological strength).

    Advance en echelons was used in gunpowder times, but I suppose it might work without guns too. I'm not too familiar with this formation, so I'll just leave this to people more knowledgeable on this.

    Edit: I just wanted to add this: for more information on formations, tactics and strategy, you could read J. F. C. Fuller's "Decisive Battles of the Western World". It's a bit of an old book (from the 60ies I think) but it's a very in depth look at tactics and battles of the world (from Marathon to Leuthen), with diagrams. It was written by a general who fought in the Great War. He was also a military historian and quite respected at that.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  8. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    Books have been written on this very thing, and it would likely take a book to answer such a broad question. Usually what I tell my students to do is pick up the journals and memoirs of the great commanders of the past. Armies across the ages have adapted new tactics and formations for their particular terrain, their type of arms and so forth. New weapons required new tactics, new formations to best use those weapons. The gunpowder age saw a shift in standard tactics and battlefield formations to best use muskets, grenades and the cannon. The American Civil War towards the end developed the first well versed use of trench warfare that lead into WW1 as a way of trying to adapt to the new accuracy of rifled guns and airburst shells fired by cannons.

    What I would say is, if you have a specific period in time you would like me to focus on I can go into a much greater detail of formations, maneuvers, tactics and the overarching strategy. Say you want to know something about Alexander the Great and how his formation differed from traditional Greek battle tactics and formations, I would be able to in depth go into it for you. I want to address what you prefer to learn rather than ramble on about something that might not interest you.

    -Cold
     
  9. Shadowfirelance

    Shadowfirelance Scribe

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    I'd personally love to hear about Alexander's, I love the time and the fact he was just so awesome he beat most of the world.
     
  10. TywinLannister

    TywinLannister Acolyte

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    Hey, thanks Abbas, I've actually read some of those things. and I'll check out the book!

    And thanks thecoldembrace, I guess I'll go digging for some journals then. And I wouldn't mind Alexander, but I was more curious on medieval Europe.
     
  11. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    What kind of missions could a special-ops commando force carry out? I have an order of highly-trained elite warriors who function as special-ops commandos for their king, but the mission I originally assigned them (assassination) seems better suited to espionage.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  12. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Modern-day SOF (Special Operations Forces, not to be confused with "Special Forces," which are a mission-specific SOF element) carry out missions that, by definition, the rest of the conventional military is not tooled to do.

    Modern SOF capabilities include:

    Direct action / commando (seizing a key piece of terrain, infrastructure, or a person, and holding it for a short time until "management" moves in; the Rangers excel at this. . . and, frankly, little else. Sorry, Rangers. DA is not war. It's the world's coolest hobby.)

    Airborne or air-mobile operations (in our world, choppers, fast-ropes, or parachutes; so, maybe mounted on gryphons or pegasi?)

    Counterinsurgency (defense of the realm against internal armed threats, i.e. revolutionaries, paramilitaries, rabblerousers)

    Unconventional warfare (which is the opposite of counterinsurgency; UW is training revolutionaries and paramilitaries until they can stand up for themselves; at which point SOF shakes hands and makes themselves scarce -- Rambo was a movie; this is Special Forces' bread and butter)

    Covert operations (operations planned in secret but with publically-visible and attributable results; in our world, the raid on bin Laden was covert)

    Clandestine operations (the opposite of covert ops; in clandestine ops no one ever knows who did it, or sometimes even that it happened at all; midnight snatch-and-grabs, "making it look like an accident," you get the idea. Also, unconventional warfare is usually clandestine.)

    Counterterrorism (whacking badguys - this is ACE / Jack Bauer stuff; kicking down doors and blowing baddies away -- the stuff the Rangers like to think they do.)

    Personnel recovery (finding lost or captured people; a series about a team of ranger-types [EDIT: Aragorn-types] who just find lost people in a fantasy wilderness would be AWESOME)

    Intelligence Operations (gathering information, reconnaissance, special reconnaissance -- SR is recon while forward deployed [beyond reinforcement or supply lines] in hostile territory without being seen -- and human reconnaissance, which is just going out and asking people what's been happening lately. In a fantasy setting, IO would also include transporting secret information.)

    Civil Affairs (winning hearts and minds; in our world, CA teams do humanitarian work and conflict mediation in places the Peace Corps would run away from screaming; in a fantasy world, they'd be sent by the king or government to help out after a disaster or crisis to show that the ruler was still "the good guy.")

    PSYOP (winning hearts and minds through manipulation of the "official" story; the Catholic Church were the masters of this throughout the Middle Ages)

    Foreign internal defense (training foreign militaries to stomp out revolutionaries)

    Asymmetric warfare (guerrilla tactics; tactics and strategies used to defeat an opponent who has a significant advantage in capabilities or numbers. Often taught hand-in-glove with unconventional warfare.)

    Terrain-specific operations (desert, riverine, naval [think SEALs] jungle, mountain)

    Interdiction / countersmuggling / counterpiracy.

    I would add a cartographic team to this; in a fantasy world, somebody has to go out there and make maps for the ruler of the place. It would be hideously dangerous and really cool.

    So, yeah. Pick one or two, and have fun. Most First-World armies have an array of Special Ops units that each specialize in one of the above. Most of the armies in the developing world have one type of SOF, if any at all, with a capability set dependent upon the nation's most urgent military need. [EDITED AGAIN: "Urgent" is highly subjective, of course. Qaddafi's "Green Nuns," AKA "The Amazonian Guard" -- his all-virgin female personal security detail armed to the teeth in high heels and fatigues -- were Libya's only real, functional SOF.]
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  13. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    So lets take a look at Alexander the Great. I apologize for taking so long to get to these posts, but research papers from my students came in and I was drowning there for awhile.

    I call Alexander the Master of the Anvil and Hammer method. There was a reason he conquered so much land in so little time, and remained undefeated until his death at the young age of 32. Alexander was gifted with the ability to almost instantaneously read the battlefield and come up with a workable plan that would grant his forces advantage regardless of usually being outnumbered. I will get into the hammer and anvil shortly.

    We will start with the battle of Issus which took place not long after the battle of Granicus in November 333 B.C.E. This was the second battle in a series of three against the Persian Emperor Darius III. On one side of the Pinarus River, which stretched from Mediterranean Sea to foothills stood the enormous army of Darius and his Persians/Greeks while on the other side had Alexander and his Macedonians/Thessalians/Greeks. The Persians had chosen a solid defensive position, however it was in a narrow stretch of land which denied them the ability to use their superior numbers.

    Because of this the Persians deployed in a double echelon which is basically two main lines running parallel to one another. Darius did two main things, he moved one large core of cavalry to attack Alexander's right in the foothills, and moved his other large core of cavalry to his right flank to an area better suited for horse combat and charges.

    So we have a very large core of Persian cavalry on the Persian right (Alexander's left) which would face off against Greek cavalry and Thessalians. On Alexander's left he countered by using the flying column in ad hoc with Agrians (Agrains being fast moving, crack javelin throwers that excelled in hilly and mountainous terrain) and a small core of light cavalry to combat the core of Persian cavalry.

    On the Persian side we have Darius set in the center amongst Greek mercenaries which were flanked by Cardace infantry (Persian heavy infantry) with teams of archers set out in front along the banks of the river. The second line was made up of less reliable infantry.

    Alexander used the oblique battle order, which is to strengthen a single flank and weaken the rest in order to achieve a local superiority of numbers while the rest of the army attempts to pin the enemy against them and hold out. This takes an extremely disciplined army to achieve, as weakening the line anywhere can have grave consequences if the troops fail to hold the enemy in place. He put his heavy infantry in the center, in the traditional Macedonian phalanx which pitted them against the Greek mercenaries on the Persian side. At Alexander's right he placed his hammer, himself with his Companions and the disciplined hypaspist corps along with archers and more Agrians.

    Using his Macedonians to pin the Persians in the center they operated as the anvil. The Persian right pressed forward against the opposing force of Greek cavalry and Thessalians putting Alexander's left in great peril. However using the strength of his hypaspists and combined Companions and skirmishers Alexander smashed the Persian left with a rapid ferocity. He used this momentum to roll his force 90 degrees to attack the Persian center which was holding very well against the Macedonian phalanx (which was fighting in the water while the Persians held the shore). Alexander attacked the Persian center at its rear, front and left flank against the Persian Greek mercenaries. They could not hold being attacked at every direction and began to break.

    Seeing his left completely disintegrated and his center being surrounded, Darius abandoned the field, which the rest of the army saw and followed as an example. The Persian right had very nearly won the right flank but upon seeing their king flee along with the rest of the army they too withdrew.

    Thus by using the oblique battle order and the hammer and anvil, Alexander was able to beat the numerically and defensively superior Persian force AT a river battle. Using his Macedonians as the anvil (to set the enemy in place) and using his elite Companions and hypaspist infantry he smashed the Persian left and brought his force around to act as a hammer to the anvil attacking the pinned Persian center between his Macedonian phalanx and the rest of his army.

    Alexander used the hammer and anvil tactic yet again at the final battle of Gaugamela against an even larger Persian host, which subsequently destroyed the Persian Empire and gave Alexander the crown.

    There is a bit of information there. It might quench the thirst of some minds.

    -Cold
     
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  14. TywinLannister

    TywinLannister Acolyte

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    thanks thecoldembrace, that was pretty good insight into the mindset of a commander, I appreciate it. hope grading those papers wasn't a killer!
     
  15. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    Glad I could help, Lord Tywin. I did see that you were interested in medieval commanders. Is there anyone in particular that you'd like me to talk about?
     
  16. Shadowfirelance

    Shadowfirelance Scribe

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    That's extremely impressive and detailed. I think I love you now. :D
     
  17. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    Meh, I could have gone into more detail, but that was the gist of the battle. Alexander was a simplistic commander that used normal battle order with unique twists to gain the upper hand. I'm glad that it was helpful though.

    -Cold
     
  18. TywinLannister

    TywinLannister Acolyte

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    How about Charlemagne thecoldembrace?
     
  19. Gray

    Gray New Member

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    I've been trying to find out, without much success, about warfare in the 18th century, specifically the point at which matchlock and flintlock had been introduced but melee combat with sabers and pikes was also still going on. Could you tell me:

    *How large scale battles would typically play out

    *The various strategies used to help in this regard

    *The various formations of soldiers

    *The types of protection worn by soldiers

    Sorry if any of this is vague. As you can probably tell, knowledge of warfare isn't by strong point.
     
  20. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    Ah Charlemagne, the great man that waged war across Europe and yet we have almost no first person or second written sources. Luckily for you, I hated not knowing about Charlemagne's battle tactics, other than from third to fifth person sources, which suck by the way. So for seven months I pieced together my own personal theory on what made Charlemagne the main man, and why he beat so many foes.

    I won't go into a battle here, but I can explain what he used to win and why his emergence at that specific time contributed to his victories.

    So first of all we need to understand the world that Charlemagne lived in and what he inherited when he took the crown in 768 alongside his younger brother Carloman. The following year, Charles had to deal with a rebellion by himself, as his brother would not come to his aid. There was not much familial love in these times, and both men wanted to rule by themselves.

    The Dukes of Aquitaine and Gascony would be swiftly put in their place when Charles mobilized his army and marched. He went immediately into the stronger of the two's lands, Aquitaine, building a fort at the border from which he would launch his campaign and to supply his army.

    Using swift almost force marches and night marches Charles surprised the Duke of Aquitaine who promptly fled to Gascony. Gascony now without an ally was ordered by Charles to hand over the Duke, which it did rather quickly. This destroyed the rebellion in just a few weeks, while it was still in its cradle, a marvel of the time period.

    This would dominate how Charles conducted his campaigns. While Alexander was a master of battle, Charles was a master of logistics and speedy movements. He had one of the best logistical systems ever organized that kept his men from foraging which Charles hated as it forced his men to spread out over an area at the expense of the local population which he always tried to keep intact. This allowed his men to be ever present in their bulk to confront their enemies, while moving at a rapid pace that surprised his enemies time and time again.

    A short time later Carloman died of natural causes, or so the reports read, leaving Charles with sole control and rule of the Frankish Empire and a very, very powerful army.

    Since this is probably why you are reading aside from the history lesson on Charlemagne, lets delve into what made his army so formidable.

    The army that Charles inherited from his father and grandfather was extremely organized. It had been hardened by near constant warfare. The main component of the army was what amounted to a professional army: the royal scara. Young nobles recruited from the wealthiest families in the kingdom formed this part and were organized into three tiers according to a type of seniority of trust and experience. They were full time soldiers, which meant with the resources of their nobility they were extremely well equipped and very well trained.

    One thing to note about Charles's army was that every part of it provided its own equipment, which gave Charles a sort of break on having to fund it from his own pockets to do so.

    The scara was all mounted, and most had the use of the stirrup, saddle and used the lance and dressed in mail and had metal helmets (which most men in this time period never had, most never even had helmets.) These men also had short swords and wooden shields, some of which that I have seen had metal bosses.

    The next level of the army was pretty much the standard feudal levy called the lantweri. (The German Landwehr very likely came from this. What made this up was those under the Frankish system owed their lord around ninety days of service a year, and you did it because the penalty of not doing so was death. However, apart from the other feudal systems in practice at the time the Frankish system did something different than what we call a universal levy to a district levy. Each district was required to field a single man, armed and trained, a professional soldier. This did lower the size of the army but gave it the advantage of quality and also fed into Charles's logistical system, making it easier to feed and supply the army.

    When fully levied the Frankish army had a very large core of mounted men at arms, who had been trained very well and armed with the best weapons and armor. However, most of the army was still on foot soldiers who while had better armaments than most, were not as well trained.

    Charles also used archers regularly, a tactic at the time that most other territories often despised as a coward's weapon.

    Throughout Charlemagne's reign he fought many wars against his neighbors, expanding the Frankish Empire. Every defeated foe brought a new element to his army. Saxons provided very powerful light infantry troops and archers. Bretons used javelin throwing cavalry that would do fake charges, throw and ride away to rearm and do it again. Gascans also fielded light infantry and light cavalry meant to harass.

    What gave Charlemagne the edge however was the full shock of mounted combat. In an age when cavalry in Western Europe was just beginning, he used it to best advantage. He would hammer home and harass and ride away and do it again until the enemy broke. This combined with a very powerful scouting force and logistics allowed the Franks to move quickly against their enemies, many times catching them barely organizing and smashing them to the winds. Also in an age when few had helmets, Charles's use of archers wreaked a heavy toll on thick enemy formations.

    Put everything together and you have a very powerful army that can basically march extremely quickly to a target area, build a fort to launch operations and steamroll the enemy. In all of his time Charles was only really beaten by the Saxons in Northern Europe and the Moors in Northern Iberia. It took fifteen years to finally pacify the Saxon tribes, but the Song of Roland gives us the account of the Moorish troops attacking the Frankish rearguard and destroying them.

    I know its alot, but it should give you some extra information, and what kind of history professor would I be if I didn't take time to give you a small history lesson?

    -Cold
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2014
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