The Art of War under Chinggis Qahan (Genghis Khan)
In the thirteenth century, all Mongols thought themselves to be the centre of the universe, a belief that they derived from their Shamanistic religion. A Shamanist worshipped natural things: the sky, the sun, the moon, rivers and mountains, etc. Heaven was both their guide and their consciousness; thus every Shamanist was born free and equal. Chinggis was, like any other Mongol, a Shamanist, and he treated every Mongol equally.
The Mongols, under Chinggis's command, were united to face the challenges of their day. Their strength lay in their unity, and the way in which they deployed their hunting skills and pursued their nomadic economy. Always superb horsemen, their iron discipline, high morale and fine leadership ensured that, as a cavalry force, they were beyond compare. Special attention was paid to the welfare of the soldiers. Chinggis Qahan once said:
'My soldiers are as numerous as forests, and their women could form a large unit within the army. I want to feed them with juicy meat, let them live in beautiful yurts, and let them pasture their livestock on rich soil.'
He was known for his personal concern for his men, and was careful not to drive them beyond the limits of their endurance.
Because the population of Mongolia was so small (some say it was over one million; I am inclined to put it at two million), human life was very precious. One can see from Chinggis's tactics that the Mongols tended to avoid hand-to-hand fighting in order to minimize casualties among their soldiers. If a Mongol soldier was killed due to carelessness, his commander would be punished; if a wounded Mongol soldier was left on the battlefield, his troop leader would be executed on the spot. In December 1241, the Mongols, under Prince Batu (the founder of the Golden Horde), entered Hungary and fought a major battle on the banks of the Sayo River. Because of the delay in sending rafts to the river banks, some twenty Mongol soldiers lost their lives. Prince Batu strongly reprimanded his second-in-command, the famous general Sube'etei (one of the Four Hounds of Chinggis), for the delay, though some say that Sube'etei and his soldiers arrived late only because they were building bridges over the Sayo.
What is clear is that Chinggis cared greatly for his soldiers. With 129,000 Mongol cavalrymen he conducted wars in foreign countries for more than twenty years, his golden rule being that of `mutual loyalty'. Because of the way in which he treated his troops, he was able to maintain fairly constant numbers of men under arms.
Through their network of spies, traders and informers, Chinggis and his generals built up an exceptional understanding of the economic, military, and political conditions of the countries they wanted to attack. It was said that in the mornings, when the air was at its clearest, a Mongol could see for up to four or five miles and hear the sound of hoofs up to twenty miles away. Even in recent times, a horseman could ride from Ulaan-Baatar to Kalgan in nine days - a distance of some 600 miles. In 1221, Chinggis's army rode 130 miles from Bamian to Ghazna, by way of Kabul, in two days. Every man learned to ride from the age of three, and served in the army from the age of fourteen until he was sixty.
Chinggis's Arts of War were based on five key elements: speed, suddenness, ferocity, variety of tactics, and iron discipline.
Marco Polo tells us that a Mongol cavalryman often slept mounted and armed while his gelding grazed, and that he could go ten days without cooking food. On such occasions he lived on ten pounds of dried milk-curd, two litres of kumiss, and a quantity of cured meat. A Mongol soldier had three or four spare geldings, and would not ride a gelding until it had rested for three or four days. The Mongols took their herds of cows and sheep with them when they went on campaigns. If they went short of food, they hunted wild beasts.
In 1211, when Chinggis attacked the Jin territory in northern China, his army comprised about 110,000 Mongol soldiers. In 1219, when the Mongol army moved into Kwarizm territory, the army numbered some 150,000 soldiers (some say only 90,000), but to these he had added many auxiliaries, including Kurds, Turks, Turkomans, and even Chinese. Chinggis Qahan never liked to fight on a second front unless absolutely necessary, preferring instead to concentrate his forces on one front at a time.
1) Crow Soldiers and Scattered Stars Tactics (also known as Ocean Waves Tactics)
2) The Cavalrymen Charge Tactics (also known as Chisel Attack Tactics)
3) Archers' Tactics
4) Throw-Into-Disorder Tactics
5) Wearing-Down Tactics
6) Confusing and Intimidating
When the Mongols encountered numerically superior forces, they often sent troops to stir up dust behind their own lines by means of branches tied to the tails of their horses. On seeing the dust, the enemy often believed that large reinforcements were at hand and fled.
The Mongols also mounted stuffed dummies, small Mongol children, and females on the spare horses to suggest that the army was much bigger than it actually was. This trick was used by the Mongol general Shigi-qutuqu in 1221, when he engaged Jaldin at Biruan between Kabul and Ghazna.
7) Luring into Ambushes
In May 1222, the Mongol generals Jebe and Sube'etei and 20,000 Mongol cavalrymen pursued the fleeing Kypchaks (or Cumans) from the western side of the Caspian Sea towards the northwest, to Kiev. The Mongols met the joint forces of the Russians and the Cumans, 30,000 men, on the eastern bank of the Dnieper River. Some say that Sube'etei, with only 2,000 Mongol cavalry, lured the Russians and Cumans for nine days towards the small Kalka River that flows into the Sea of Azov, where the main Mongol cavalrymen (numbering 20,000) were waiting. Under the direction of Jebe and Sube'etei, the Mongols attacked the enemy at the end of May and destroyed most of their forces.
8) Arc Formation Tactics
9) Lightning Attack And Surprise Attack
In 1213, the Mongol army, commanded by Jebe, failed to take the city of Dongchang (Mukden), so they retreated for six days over a distance of some 170 miles. The enemy defending the city thought that the Mongols had given up, but Jebe returned, covering the distance in one night and launching a surprise attack.
10) Outflanking Tactics (a)
In 1213, when the Mongol cavalrymen under Chinggis Qahan wanted to take the Chabchiyal Pass, the Jin army fortified the pass and spread iron spikes along the road to the north to prevent the advance of the geldings. The entrance to the pass was also reinforced by an iron gate. Chinggis left a small detachment to shoot at the Jin army, and then took his main army west and back to the southern end of the pass. He captured a place called Nankou, and went on to take the pass.
11) Encircling Tactics
In 1221, Chinggis destroyed Jalaldin Mangubirdi, who had deployed his soldiers on the west bank of the Indus, by attacking on two or three sides. Plano Carpini (who was in Mongolia in 1246) records that the Mongols always sent the captured personnel and non-Mongol soldiers in first, led by a few Mongols, to fight the encircled enemy. Only then would the strong regular army appear, as if from nowhere, to reinforce the stronghold, outflank the enemy on both wings, and destroy him.
12) Open-the-End Tactics
13) Combining Swords and Arrows
14) Hot Pursuit Tactics and Dispersing Tactics
15) Bush Clump Tactics
16) Outflanking Tactics (b)