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When the Mongols set out to conquer the World, there was only one limiting factor: Grass [EN]

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Su Historynet Wayne E. Lee della University of North Carolina ci parla della logistica e delle caratteristiche operazionali operative dei mongoli durante il Basso Medioevo.

La principale fonte relative all’invasione mongola dell’Europa del 1241 è quella di un prelato italiano, Ruggero di Puglia, che dettagliò l’invasione dei cosiddetti “Tatari”, il termine con cui venivano indicati i Mongoli dell’Orda D’Oro che, guidati dal comandante Batu Khan, penetrarono fino in Ungheria prima di venire respinti dalle truppe del Sacro Romano Impero e ritirarsi in seguito alla morte del Gran Khan.

He described how the Mongol wave had first crested against the Carpathians the previous year, pushing the Cumans over the mountains into Hungary, and then, in a crucial hint of how the Mongols operated, how “they retreated to the distance of four to five days, leaving untouched the borderlands adjacent to Hungary, so that when they returned they would be able to find food and fodder for themselves and their horses and so that no news might reach the Hungarians about them.”

The Mongols’ logistics and operational technique went hand in hand. As the Mongol armies moved over fresh grasslands outside Hungary during their approach, the green pastures fed the horses in a way that sustained the soldiers for days afterward—a kind of logistical “running start”—as the fattened horses provided milk for the soldiers. Then, as the Mongol forces concentrated on the business of fighting, they were able to move almost entirely unencumbered by logistical considerations—at least for a week or so. Their blinding speed deprived their victims of any kind of advance warning.

Il movimento delle truppe durante le attività militari rientra in quella che viene definita “operatività”. Per la maggior parte della storia militare, e con alcune eccezioni (le truppe di Cesare, alcuni eserciti della Cina imperiale) questa è stata piuttosto semplice e diretta: consisteva nello spostare le truppe da un “punto di pressione” a un altro, usando i distaccamenti solo in maniera limitata, e sempre con lo stesso obiettivo strategico in mente. Le cose iniziarono a cambiare con Napoleone, che disponeva di un esercito molto più grande, e usava i distaccamenti in maniera creativa, per trasformare in vantaggi le caratteristiche del territorio in cui si sarebbe comunque combattuta la battaglia campale.

I Mongoli invece proponevano uno schema inedito e imprevedibile di movimento delle truppe, che sembravano essere “ovunque”:

Nomads on the Eurasian steppe moved because they had to. Moving served the vast pasture needs of their herds of sheep, goats, yaks, and horses. Though seemingly an endless grassland, the steppe was relatively arid. Its grasses grew slowly, and seasonal temperature variations were severe. The animals periodically had to be moved to new pastures, at least seasonally, and under normal conditions it was not feasible for too many people to live too close together: A few people required many animals, and many animals required vast quantities of grass, and that grass could quickly disappear. […] The nomad story always begins with grass. While large conglomerations of nomads could not remain together in a single location for long, war required the concentration of men and horses. The challenges of that scenario mostly had to do with the calories in a steppe warrior’s ration and the acres of grass required for a large herd of horses.

 


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