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What made the Mongol Army very good?

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  • What made the Mongol Army very good?

    Many people tend to equate the Mongols military success due to its horse archer composition. One of the favorite contrast is comparing the Mongol horse archer to the melee based European Knight. However, horse archer army model have existed for thousands of years before the Mongols came. These horse archer armies have never built an empire of the scale of the Mongols.

    What made the Mongol army the exception?

  • #2
    Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
    Many people tend to equate the Mongols military success due to its horse archer composition. One of the favorite contrast is comparing the Mongol horse archer to the melee based European Knight. However, horse archer army model have existed for thousands of years before the Mongols came. These horse archer armies have never built an empire of the scale of the Mongols.

    What made the Mongol army the exception?
    Three words spring to mind:

    Adaptability, agility and leadership.

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    • #3
      Second the Ibis I remember for example the Mongols faking retreats to lure their enemies into ambushes. European knights would have found both faking a retreat and ambushing unacceptably dishonorable, hell they found holding back reserves dishonorable. And said ambushes-by-fake-retreat worked all to well because said knights would heedlessly pursuit them, no matter what their leaders said, all in for the glory.
      In other words, the Mongols had actual disciplined soldiers, while Europe had warriors.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Acheron View Post
        Second the Ibis I remember for example the Mongols faking retreats to lure their enemies into ambushes. European knights would have found both faking a retreat and ambushing unacceptably dishonorable, hell they found holding back reserves dishonorable. And said ambushes-by-fake-retreat worked all to well because said knights would heedlessly pursuit them, no matter what their leaders said, all in for the glory.
        In other words, the Mongols had actual disciplined soldiers, while Europe had warriors.
        I would basically echo what Ibis and Acheron have already stated,but add that they were completely ruthless.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
          What made the Mongol army the exception?
          It's chief weapon was surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise... It's two weapons were fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... It's three weapons were fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Mongol Emperor... Amongst its weaponry...were such elements as fear, surprise... I'll come in again..

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          • #6
            Originally posted by skoblin View Post
            It's chief weapon was surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise... It's two weapons were fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... It's three weapons were fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Mongol Emperor... Amongst its weaponry...were such elements as fear, surprise... I'll come in again..


            The reason for the success of the Mongol army, and the reason why the Empire did not survive was its willingness to use any means necessary to win. Terror and torture may get what you want in the short term, but is not the basis for lomg term empire building.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by skoblin View Post
              It's chief weapon was surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise... It's two weapons were fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... It's three weapons were fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Mongol Emperor... Amongst its weaponry...were such elements as fear, surprise... I'll come in again..
              Indeed skoblin. The Mongols under Genghis Khan and Subatai were masters of the moral level of warfare.


              By the way with so much to see, how soon before you take a trip to the Mohi/Sajo River battlefield? That will be pretty close to you.
              Last edited by The Ibis; 22 May 10, 11:41.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post


                The reason for the success of the Mongol army, and the reason why the Empire did not survive was its willingness to use any means necessary to win. Terror and torture may get what you want in the short term, but is not the basis for lomg term empire building.
                Well, the Mongols weren't slouches at governing either. The unified Mongol empire didn't survive mainly because the Khans, their descendants, and generals fought over the throne like what happened to Alexander's Empire.
                The main Mongol Khans inherited the four (or five?) main chunks of the divided empire ruled pretty well for a few hundred years or so. (most famous is the Yuan Dynasty by Kublai and the Persian Khan-ate by ____)
                Surrender? NutZ!
                -Varro

                Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death. -Sun Tzu

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Intranetusa View Post
                  Well, the Mongols weren't slouches at governing either. The unified Mongol empire didn't survive mainly because the Khans, their descendants, and generals fought over the throne like what happened to Alexander's Empire.
                  The main Mongol Khans inherited the four (or five?) main chunks of the divided empire ruled pretty well for a few hundred years or so. (most famous is the Yuan Dynasty by Kublai and the Persian Khan-ate by ____)
                  Four. Kublai, Golden Horde, Chagatai Khanate and Ilkhanate(Persian Khanate).

                  Hulagu was the founder of the Ilkanate.

                  Golden Horde and Chagatai Khanate refused to accept Kublai Khan as the Great Khan.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
                    Many people tend to equate the Mongols military success due to its horse archer composition. One of the favorite contrast is comparing the Mongol horse archer to the melee based European Knight. However, horse archer army model have existed for thousands of years before the Mongols came. These horse archer armies have never built an empire of the scale of the Mongols.

                    What made the Mongol army the exception?
                    I think religious ambition is also a factor. Genghis Khan was a megalomaniac who thought he was the rightful divine ruler of the world. Attila was satisfied with getting loot and the Parthians with defending their territory.

                    The mechanism of the nomad armies is that they absorb militarily the conquered peoples and build bigger armies that way, so it was not just about horse archery. The Ilkhanate for example had large amounts of Iranian infantry and Yuan Chinese infantry and firearms.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by suntzu View Post
                      I think religious ambition is also a factor. Genghis Khan was a megalomaniac who thought he was the rightful divine ruler of the world. Attila was satisfied with getting loot and the Parthians with defending their territory.
                      When did Genghis Khan claimed to be a God?

                      The mechanism of the nomad armies is that they absorb militarily the conquered peoples and build bigger armies that way, so it was not just about horse archery. The Ilkhanate for example had large amounts of Iranian infantry and Yuan Chinese infantry and firearms.
                      The Mongolians were themselves assimilated to some extent, to the point where culture and religion became a bigger divider than the squabbles over ascension claims.

                      Kublai Khan was challenged because some factions thought he had become too "Chinese" and had abandoned the Mongol roots and traditions. Religion also contributed to their fallout. Hulagu Khan of Ilkhanate had sacked Bagdad and killed just about all except for Christians....he burned down mosques and erected cathedrals. Berke Khan of the Golden Horde had converted to Islam and killed Christians in his conquest of Europe. The Byzantine Empire was an ally of Hulagu and Bulgaria was a vassal of Berke.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Salinator View Post
                        When did Genghis Khan claimed to be a God?
                        I didn't say that, I said divine ruler.

                        To Genghis Khan and the people he ruled, heaven had given him a mandate to conquer and to spread a new way of living. This cultural imperative shaped the tie between the sky god Monkh Khokh Tenger, ( literally ‘Eternal Blue Heaven’) and the destiny of the Mongol people.

                        The opening lines of The Secret History of the Mongols are “Genghis Khan was born with his destiny ordained by Heaven above.” This combination of destiny and heaven is vital to the unlikely story of Temujin’s rise to power from a poor boy under enslavement to the greatness he later achieved.
                        http://www.macalester.edu/anthropolo...ia/heaven.html

                        Heaven has ordered me to rule over all men, the protection and help of the Eternal Heaven has enabled me to destroy my enemies and attain this high dignity.
                        http://books.google.com/books?id=a4p...heaven&f=false

                        The Mongolians were themselves assimilated to some extent, to the point where culture and religion became a bigger divider than the squabbles over ascension claims.
                        A similar pattern as with Alexander, another megalomaniac. (Although the Hellenistic culture was probably more viable.)

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                        • #13
                          The quick answer is

                          A. fully exploiting the nomadic abilities : while nomadic tactics have existed for thousands of years. not many nomadic leader have actually exploited their advantage succcessfully and consistently on a strategic scale.

                          B. adapting better than everyone else : when Genghis first ran up against the Xi - Xia kingdom, his troops won on the field but had much trouble during siege. something that almost everyone else took notes of , but then he hired chinese to help him with siege tactics (such as eventually daming and flooding the Xia capital into oblivion) The Chinese engineers were also instrumental in several siege during their attack on Peria.

                          Then his grandsons in turn hired Persian engineers to built massive trebuchets and blasted the Song dynasty defenses into dust. while also hiring recently conquered Chinese to built a navy to use againsts the Song (and eventually, attempted to take Japan) . so in one quick swoop, the Mongols manage to use the special knowledge of two of the greatest ancient civilization on earth against each other. the end result was that the Chinese civilization was badly set back for centuries while the Persian was nearly annihilated as a distinct culture.

                          C. Ruthlessness and a purely expansion mind set : This isn't particularly new to nomads, but few had the backing of large resources from settle cultures like the Mongols eventually did , while most that did (such as several instance in China's history when they were overran by nomads) , were usually just as quick to absorb the settle cultures mindset. the Mongols took longer to do that.
                          Last edited by RollingWave; 07 Jun 10, 04:30.

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                          • #14
                            The Monglos were able to field a sizable strike force of mounted archers, say 20 men, with a minimal logistical tail compared to the contemporary armies of the time. Of course, they were quite able to adapt infantry and siege units for a combined arms force made up of Mongols, Chinese, Persians and eventually Turks for full scale invasions.
                            "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
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                            Co-author of the Second Amendment
                            during Virginia’s Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788

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                            • #15
                              Organization and communications. The Mongols had a unified system of command. They had a defined chain based on competent leadership and expected results. In addition, they had a field communications system using flags, drums and horns that the troops could hear and see to take orders and direction from their leaders by.

                              Their command system was based on tens just like the later Roman system. It was orgainzation and communications that gave the Romans their edge too.

                              An organized force with a single mind will always beat an unorganized rabble. This is why the riot police though few in number are able to stop huge mobs.
                              The same is even more true in military operations. The Mongols beat their opponets first and foremost through superior planning, orgainzation, reconnissance, and communications.

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