Asymetrical Warefare in the Ancient World




 
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August 23rd, 2011  
Yossarian
 
 

Topic: Asymetrical Warefare in the Ancient World


The ideas and tactics employed by the insurgency in Afghanistan is well known thoughout the world today as asymetrical measures to try and thwart an occupying enemy with superior firepower and capabilities.

But this tactic is nowhere near new, and what I am asking is are there any military campgains or occupations in the Ancient Warefare realm where an asymetircal military campgain was carried out by an inferior force and proved somewhat successful.

Any and all mentions of such is kindly welcome as I will research further in into it from there.

Kind Regards,

Yo
August 23rd, 2011  
42RM
 
Asymmetric warfare has its roots as far back as the Trojan Campaign in Ancient Greece and Hannibal’s assault on Rome. Just start studying.
August 23rd, 2011  
Yossarian
 
 
Much appreciation, just wanted to see where the world was then, and how we got to where we are now, to maybe best guess on where we are heading in the future.

Especially living in a country that was founded through such means as is the topic of this thread.
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August 24th, 2011  
A Can of Man
 
 
I think back then counter-insurgency was killing off everyone and pouring salt on their farmland.
August 24th, 2011  
MontyB
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 42RM
Asymmetric warfare has its roots as far back as the Trojan Campaign in Ancient Greece and Hannibal’s assault on Rome. Just start studying.
I think you could also call Vercingetorix campaign against Julius Caesar an example especially early on before he decided to trap himself at Alesia.
August 24th, 2011  
42RM
 
Asymmetric warfare is as old as warfare itself and as recent as the last terrorist outrage.
Even the oldest written works on warfare refer to the principles of targeting vulnerabilities and of doing the radically different. The Chinese strategist-philosopher Sun Tzu, writing in the fourth century BC, clearly understood this philosophy when penning his seminal work, The Art of War. Focusing in large part on how the weak can defeat the strong, he wrote: “An army may be compared to water, for water in its natural flowing avoids the heights and hastens downwards. So in a war, an army should avoid strength and strike at weakness where the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe with whom he is fighting”.

His compatriot Sun Bin, writing in the second century BC, pointed out that, having studied the enemy, the good strategist will look to generate surprise by acting differently: “When conventional tactics are altered unexpectedly according to the situation, they take on the element of surprise and increase in strategic value” Much later, in 1513, the military thinker Niccoló Machiavelli agreed: “Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times” So, of course did the hijackers of September 11.

History serves up several examples of what are perceived to be asymmetric encounters, where the weaker protagonist has used unusual methods – often based on what were new technologies at the time – to challenge the stronger.

In AD 9, for instance, the German chieftain Arminius was able to completely destroy three Roman legions because he went about “unlevelling” the battlefield in his favour. His methods of warfare were at the odds with the norms as practiced by the Romans. Through a combination of psychological warfare, treachery, deceit, thorough knowledge of his enemy, and sound tactical thinking. Arminius was able to create a situation whereby the strength of the legions, so reliant on correct troop formations, was dissipated in long columns of march in difficult terrain. His tribal warriors could then harass and totally destroy the Roman formations.
August 24th, 2011  
42RM
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MontyB
I think you could also call Vercingetorix campaign against Julius Caesar an example especially early on before he decided to trap himself at Alesia.
Yes partly.

The Siege of Alesia was one of Caesar's greatest military achievements.
Its a classic example of siege warfare.
August 27th, 2011  
rocky71
 
 
1. Employment of asymmetric tactics is as old as man himself. Even David employed such a tactic against Goliath. Or weaker individuals fighting or dueling would employ ruse, deceit,etc to overpower the stronger combatant.

2. But asymmetric warfare or asymmetric strategy is comparatively new. An essential element in using this is the involvement of the total population with all they have. This was absent in the good old days when battles or wars were conquests for the love of conquest, historical name and fame, and to acquire more territory, wealth or subjects. Kings and commanders were always out to feed their greed for such things. These conflicts involved the armies and navies only, and rarely did the people participate in these. Most often they would become loyal subject to the conqueror as they were of the vanquished. In short warfare was limited to the military.

3. Asymmetric warfare must involve a doctrine - either the doctrine of traditional people's war or the doctrine of classical war. The ruler/govt will have to prepare the nation in advance through the sale of ideology, cultural values, economic interests and common national goals. Thus will there emerge a High Moral Ground for which the people will be prepared to suffer and sacrifice.

4. Allow may to quote one instance of asymmetric warfare from the middle ages in my own country, Bangladesh. Our history is full of efforts by the northern rulers (presently India with capital at Delhi) to subjugate us culturally, economically and militarily. We always resisted this. During the reign of Moghul Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) our people rose in revolt on a religious issue. Akbar sent his best general, Raja Man Singh to quell the revolt. The mass uprising threw up twelve local leaders who led the insurgency from their location. These local feudal lords, known as Bhuyans, harassed and molested the Moghal Army till it was dissipated in size and morale. Finally, in a text-book form, the final or conventional battle was fought at Egaro Shindhu when the combined forces of the Twelve Bhuyans of Bengal under the command of Issa Khan defeated Man Singh.
August 27th, 2011  
42RM
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rocky71
1. Employment of asymmetric tactics is as old as man himself.

Yes, we have determined that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rocky71
But asymmetric warfare or asymmetric strategy is comparatively new. An essential element in using this is the involvement of the total population with all they have.

This is bollocks. The ancient Vikings used asymmetric strategy. The essential element has nothing to do with the involvement of the total population

Asymmetric warfare encompasses a widescope of theory, experience, conjecture, and definition, the implicit premise is that asymmetric warfare deals with unknowns, with surprise in terms of ends, ways, and means. The more dissimilar the opponent, the more difficult it is to anticipate his actions. If we knew in advance how an opponent planned to exploit our dissimilarities, we could develop specific doctrine to counter his actions.

One way to look at asymmetric warfare is to see it as a classic action-reaction-counteraction cycle. Our enemies study our doctrine and try to counter it. Any competent enemy will do the unexpected, if he believes it will work. When we understand the asymmetry, we counter it, and so forth. Unfortunately, uncertainty is inseparable from the nature of warfare, and asymmetry increases uncertainty. Those who expect doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures to provide solutions and checklists for action are soon disabused of that notion during actual operations. If and when the enemy surprises us with a capability, our response is necessarily ad hoc and less effective. Depending on our preconceptions and ability to adapt, the advantage an opponent enjoys might persist.

Tactics vary constantly with the situation. There is no playbook of tactical solutions; the tactics manual only offers a menu from which to choose. Tactics are employed against an asymmetric opponent in the course of combat, but there can be no set of tactics checklists for asymmetric warfare, since each application is unique. Tactics are whatever we do against an asymmetric opponent when we arrange forces to counter that opponent. What differentiates tactics against an asymmetric opponent is that we might not have ever used that particular combination of options before, or we might have to incorporate new and novel options to counter asymmetry. When confronted by a situation, leaders must choose from a variety of possible solutions and adapt their solution to circumstances at the point of engagement.

Asymmetry is really nothing more than taking the level of uncertainty, or surprise, to a new level that involves novel ways, means, or even ends. From a doctrinal perspective, our response is the same, whether the enemy’s asymmetry is a low-level tactical innovation or a completely novel strategic approach. We must be astute enough to recognize that something has changed and then be flexible enough to create an effective response.

Sufficient skill and cunning are the only attributes that asymmetric warfare/strategy demands and man has been aware of this and used it since the times of Adam and Eve.
August 28th, 2011  
Sara
 
 
I may be way off base but,

Thank you for sharing.

I can't explain the feelings of confusion, despair?, all the emotions which come with the war as it is. My son is fighting for our freedom (kept).. yet...the enemy has the opinion we are "evil". We all know where that stems from, so I'm battling my own "struggle", if you will, over some of the tactics revealed I've seen posted here ( which I never knew about).
This is something I feel that should not be brought into war yet, it seems there is no escaping it.
It does seem that way to me. I pray that there's no "confusion"..

This is my best way to describe my feeling on this. I hope someone here understands.

"fighting fire with fire" were my first thoughts upon reading the post a few months ago.
 


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