16 July 2010
An Unstoppable Force.
“An army of donkeys led by a lion is more effective than an army of lions led by a donkey”- Genghis Khan. The Mongols lived and breathed this quote, making sure whenever they found an enemy they destroyed them. They did this to great extent due to their mighty military machine. Their army was the most mobile anyone had ever seen before and combined with the information they needed about their enemies they were able to make lightning quick raids at strategic targets deep in enemy territory. The Mongol’s militaries ability to adapt to different situations and not only survive in different terrain far from home was due to the hardiness of its peoples and the fact that they actually employed experienced and talented generals. These Generals would use any tactic to win, from deception to genocide as long as it won the day who cared what tactics they used. The fact that the Mongol military was so mobile was a major factor in the overall success of its conquests. Because of their mobility the Mongols were able to surprise their enemies time after time showing up on their flanks unexpectedly. For example in the battle of Shansi against the Chin, Subotai led a surprise attack on the Chins forces from both flanks and the rear while Genghis Khan was holding them from the front, the chin army was annihilated (56). Their mobility was due to several reasons, one was that every Mongol soldier had three spare horses and they would alternate riding different horses every few hours to save the endurance of each horse, thus making them able to move great distances swiftly. Another reason is the fact that in times of war they were known to tie themselves in the saddle so it was possible to sleep. This let the army move long distances while their enemies were still asleep, a fact that helped them get the element of surprise time and time again. Subotai demonstrated their mobility by leading the longest cavalry raid in history. He led an army of 30,000 and traveled 5,500 miles in three years (102). When the Mongols chose to fight in Russia in winter, a season that defeated not only Napoleon’s army but also Hitler’s, it forces you to take notice of the hardiness of these people. The frozen terrain actually enhanced Mongol horse mobility, where the Russian military was ill equipped to fight in winter and was further crippled. The Mongols fast mobility combined with the hardiness of the Mongol way of life helped them conquer numerous kingdoms by attacking through impassable terrain at unheard of times, a harsh Russian winter for example (105). Their mobility combined with a solid strategy was essential to their conquests.
The Mongols also had a very capable military intelligence core. They would scout out areas before the army arrived to see what the local politics were, the rival factions in the area, and what kind of military units or forces they would face. The Mongols planned their entire invasion plans off of these military intelligence reports. For example when they invaded northern Russia they knew if they moved swiftly and attacked quickly, which was no problem for them, the Russians wouldn’t be able to put an army against them (105). That is exactly what happened. The Mongols tore the Russians apart piece by piece until there was no one that could stand before them. Thanks to the right information the Mongols made some strategic choices at the right time that proved very smart. The Mongols were truly innovators in this area, if you look at their enemies they very rarely learned anything about the Mongols. For example the Russians completely forgot about the battle of Kalka River where they got slaughtered and lost over 40,000 men (100). Since they seemed to have forgotten their previous mistakes they didn’t even try to adapt to the Mongols fighting techniques at all. So the battle of Sita River was a blood bath, where the last Russian army was surrounded and...
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