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HTST489 - Oct 25 - The Mongols and Conclusion of the First Age of Intelligence

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University of Calgary
HTST 489
John Ferris

HTST489 Oct 25 Wrapping Up FirstAge of Intelligence Mongols – unique political situation. Combines all the major nomadic tribes ofAsia. Political triump that allows a qualitatively different military/strategic operational system. Between 1220s and late 1200s across asia is it becomes possibly for a confederacy to maintain armies in the vicinity of 20-50k range and at their height to conquer all of asia, extending to Sinai dessert and north of Himalayas. Had to unify the tribes, had extremely able commanders. Some of the greatest in history.Also able to generate system which in military terms has immense intel advantages. Military system which is unique in terms of composition and capabilities.Able to combine simulataneously advantages of mounted bowmen and advantages of recon. Strengths: Once political cohesion achieved, able to create nomadic force composed almost entirely of calvalry – able to add other weapons as it gets stronger, but classic period is mounted bowmen.An army where every mongol has 5 or 6 horses – switch horses as they tire. Speed is unprecedented – move 100 miles a day. Operationally and tactically, incredibly mobile. Most dangerous weapon in history is the concave bow previously described. Combination of strategic redeployment and speed, devastating battle capabilities and intelligence advantages, as well. Can eliminate any reconnoitering ability of the enemy. Possibly to move so quickly you can attack an enemy before they realize you're there. Tactically, immense advantages: opportunistic and “formless” - advancing, can manuevre as they like. So fast that if you try to attack them they retreat. Classic central asian nomad trick of luring enemy to charge after you, wait for them to lose formation and tire before turning around. Intel gathering capabilities multiply all Mongol advantages. Limits: 1240s – vulnerability is classic mongol forces are not well designed to take walled cities. Develop very effective seige trains under Kubla Kahn. Mongols move thousands of Persian engineers and craftsman to mount seige capabilities against Chinese forces. But in classical era of expansion, don't have this advantage. Take out Northern independent lands of China – starve cities out. Start to learn some means of operation. Moving into Muslim world, confronting fairly loosely organized states, cities protected by brick walls. Strategic decision taken by the mongols – in early stage of invasion, find way to take city by treachery and absolutely wipe out the population. Done to terrify people so completely that they won't dare stand against them. Scare them into believing if they resist you, you'll kill them. Towns of russe/modern Ukraine are built with wooden fortifications – easy to get around, just burn them down. Immediately kill people to reiterate message. Mongols have military system great for field of battle – can jump strategically quicker than any other, perhaps even into modern period – and have a devastating battlefield punch. Limits to seigecraft always get in the way, however. This is the reason Mongols eventually stop expansion pretty much all together. Combination of difficult geographic obstacles, stone walls, and enemies who won't surrender suddenly blocks the Mongols everywhere. Most notable example occurs between Poland, Ukraine, Hungary and the Carpathian mountains. 2 or 3 long period where the Mongols overrun Russe, overryn the Polish and Ukraine armies and much of Hungary. Overrun Hungary, but as part of latin medieval Europe, is unique. Highly divided – feudalism stems from disintegration of political unity – every prince has a castle he wants to hold. Mongol dilemma – not just one big walled city but hundreds of little forts that are unwilling to surrender. Can overrun territory, beat field armies, but can't take the town. Latin Christians will fight and face their own death and prefer to burn the town down. Mongols warn the towns they're returning and they'd better surrender – never come back. Southern Syria approaching Egypt, Mamluk dynasty – slave army, create military system based on young men, often non-Muslim, who are slaves, basically. Experienced army. Willing to take on Mongols. Mongols can't take any of Mamluk positions, surrender, never come back. India, similar problem with Hindu Kush in Himalayas. Slave dynasties of Muslim states in northern india with huge armies – Slave Dynasty of Dehli. Same in Japan – Mongols have to cross east China sea, winds get in the way and Japan as a society has stone fortifications with people who don't surrender easily. Mongols have warfare abilities great with open hilly territory, if dealing with major civilizations can actually overwhelm them. But if dealing with enemy who makes you play it's game with stone garrisons and people who won't give in, these advantages evaporate. Given the sources available in that time, able to use intel better than many others at that stage, however. Info processing in Mongol empire 60 yr period before Mongols start to disintegrate. From Yangtze River to Romania – single biggest empire to exist. Mongols create the most astonishing system of information transfer that we know of. Establish pony express system from one end ofAsia to another – possible for rider to carry messages hundreds of miles a day. Ride from one station to another, hop on to another pony, transfer dispatch bag to someone else 200 miles down who goes on further, etc. Effective real time communication for about 50 years. How they process it, however, is hard to tell. Hard to know how mongol strategy is formulated. They're at least able to transfer this information, however. End of the Mongol Empire As the Mongols start to fall
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