mongol art gallery berlin germany'ZURAG' film original  in German 2010 Berlin

'ZURAG' film in the Mongolian national television, 2011 Ulan Bator
(Original record from the MNB broadcast)
The Secret History of the Mongols
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Deutsch - Zweites Kapitel: Tschingis Chaans Jugend
English - 
Second Chapter: Genghis Khan's Youth


Mongol military tactics and organization
Six of every ten Mongol troopers were light cavalry horse archers, the remaining four were more heavily armored and armed lancers. Mongol light cavalry soldiers, called keshik, were extremely light troops compared to contemporary standards, allowing them to execute tactics and maneuvers that would have been impractical for a heavier enemy (such as European knights). Most of the remaining troops were heavier cavalry with lances for close combat after the archers had brought the enemy into disarray. All soldiers usually carried scimitars or axes as well.
Mongol armor was usually light: boiled leather, perhaps studded with metal beads. Heavier armed soldiers would usually be equipped with leather armor backed with metal or horn plates, or with chain mail if available. As a protection from arrows, a Mongol might wear a shirt made up of raw silk, as the threads are hard to break and this makes the cleaning of a wound easier, with a corresponding reduced risk of infection.
Mongolian horses are relatively small, and would lose short-distance races under equal conditions with larger horses from other regions. However, since most other armies carried much heavier armor, the Mongols could still outrun most enemy horsemen in battle. In addition, Mongolian horses were extremely durable and sturdy, allowing the Mongols to move over large distances quickly, often surprising enemies that had expected them to arrive days or even weeks later.
All horses were equipped with stirrups. This technical advantage made it easier for the Mongol archers to turn their upper body, and shoot in all directions, including backwards. Mongol warriors would time the loosing of an arrow to the moment when a galloping horse would have all four feet off the ground, thus ensuring a steady, well-aimed shot.

Logistics: Supply
The Mongol armies traveled very light, and were able to live largely off the land. Their equipment included fish hooks and other tools meant to make each warrior independent of any fixed supply source. The most common travel food of the Mongols was dried and ground meat "Borts", which is still common in the Mongolian cuisine today. Borts is light and easy to transport, and can be cooked with water similarly to a modern "instant soup".
To ensure they would always have fresh horses, each trooper usually had 3 or 4 mounts.And since most of the Mongols' mounts were mares, they could live off their horses' milk or milk products when need arose. In dire straits, the Mongol warrior could drink some of the blood from his string of remounts.
Heavier equipment was brought up by well organized supply trains. Wagons and carts carried, amongst other things, large stockpiles of arrows. The main logistical factor limiting their advance was finding enough feed and water for their animals. In all campaigns, the soldiers took their families along with them.

The Mongols established Yam, a system of postal-relay horse stations, thus creating a mail service much like the later Pony Express of the U.S. frontier era. The Mongol mail system was the first such empire-wide service since the Roman Empire. Additionally, Mongol battlefield communication utilized signal flags and to a lesser extent, signal arrows to communicate movement orders during combat.

Weapons: Mongol bow
The primary weapon of the Mongol forces was the Mongol bow. It was a recurve bow made from composite materials (wood, horn, and sinew), and at the time unmatched for accuracy, force, and reach. The bow's geometry allowed to make it relatively small so it could be used from horseback.
Targeted shots were possible at a range of 80 or 100 m, which determined the optimal tactical approach distance for light cavalry units. Ballistic shots could hit enemy units (without targeting individual soldiers) at distances of up to 400 m, useful for surprising and scaring troops and horses before beginning the actual attack. They used a wide variety of arrows, depending on the target and distance. Plate armor could be penetrated at close range, using special heavy arrows.

Mongol sword was a slightly curved scimitar which was more useful for slashing attacks than stabbing and thrusting, making it easier to use on horseback.

Siege warfare: Catapults and machines
Technology was one of the important facets of Mongolian warfare. For instance, siege machines were an important part of Genghis Khan's warfare, especially in attacking fortified cities. The siege engines were disassembled and carried by horses to be rebuilt at the site of the battle.
The engineers building the machines were recruited among captives, mostly from China and Persia. When Mongols slaughtered whole populations, they often spared the engineers and technicians, swiftly assimilating them into the Mongol armies.

A commonly used tactic was the use of what was called the "kharash". During a siege the Mongols would gather a crowd of local residents or soldiers surrendered from previous battles, and would drive them forward in sieges and battles. These "alive boards" or "human shields" would often take the brunt of enemy arrows and crossbow bolts, thus leaving the Mongol warriors safer. The kharash were also often forced ahead to breach walls.

The Mongol battlefield tactics were a combination of masterful training combined with excellent communication and the ability to follow orders in the chaos of combat. They trained for virtually every possibility, so when it occurred, they could react accordingly. Unlike many of their foes, the Mongols also protected their ranking officers well. Their training and discipline allowed them to fight without the need for constant supervision or rallying, which often placed commanders in dangerous positions.
Whenever possible, Mongol commanders found the highest ground available, from which they could make tactical decisions based on the best view of the battlefield as events unfolded. Furthermore, being on high ground allowed their forces to observe commands conveyed by flags more easily than if the ground were level. In addition, keeping the high command on high ground made them easier to defend. Unlike the European armies, which placed enormous emphasis on personal valor, and thus exposed their leaders to death from anyone bold enough to kill them, the Mongols regarded their leaders as a vital asset. A general such as Subutai, unable to ride a horse in the later part of his career due to age and obesity, would have been ridiculed out of most any European army of the time. But the Mongols recognized and respected his still-powerful military mind, who had been one of the Genghis' most able subordinates, so he was cheerfully hauled around in a cart.

Intelligence and Planning
The Mongols carefully scouted out and spied on their enemies in advance of any invasion. Prior to the invasion of Europe, Batu and Subutai sent spies for almost ten years into the heart of Europe, making maps of the old Roman roads, establishing trade routes, and determining the level of ability of each principality to resist invasion. They made well-educated guesses as to the willingness of each principality to aid the others, and their ability to resist alone or together.
Also, when invading an area, the Mongols would do all that was necessary to completely conquer the town or cities. Some tactics involved diverting rivers from the city/town, closing supplies to the city and waiting for its inhabitants to surrender, gathering civilians from the nearby areas to fill the front line for the city/town attack before scaling the wall, and pillaging the surrounding area and killing some of the people, then letting some survivors flee to the main city to report their losses to the main populace to weaken resistance, simultaneously draining the resources of the city with the sudden influx of refugees.

Psychological warfare and deception
The Mongols used psychological warfare successfully in many of their battles, especially in terms of spreading terror and fear to towns and cities. They often offered an opportunity for the enemy to surrender and pay tribute, instead of having their city ransacked and destroyed. They knew that sedentary populations were not free to flee danger as were nomad populations, and that the destruction of their cities was the worst loss a sedentary population could experience. When cities accepted the offer, they were spared, but were of course required to support the conquering Mongol army with manpower, supplies, and other services.
If the offer was refused, however, the Mongols would invade and destroy the city or town, but allow a few civilians to flee and spread terror by reporting of their loss. Those reports were an essential tool to incite fear in others. Their reputation for terror was so great, there were tales of lone Mongol soldiers riding into villages and killing the inhabitants one by one without resistance, as it was known that to resist was to bring forth the whole of the Mongol army. However, both sides often had a similar if differently motivated interest in overstating the enormity of the reported events: the Mongols' reputation would increase and the townspeople could use their reports of terror to raise an army. For that reason, specific data (eg. casualty figures) given in contemporary sources needs to be evaluated carefully.
The Mongols also used deception very well in their wars. For instance, when approaching a mobile army the units would be split into three or more army groups, each trying to outflank and surprise their opponents. This created many battlefield scenarios for the opponents where the Mongols would seem to appear out of nowhere and that there were seemingly more of them than in actuality. Flanking and/or feigned retreat if the enemy could not be handled easily was one of the most practiced techniques. Other techniques used commonly by the Mongols were completely psychological and were used to entice/lure enemies into vulnerable positions by showing themselves from a hill or some other predetermined locations, then disappearing into the woods or behind hills while the Mongols' flank troops already strategically positioned would appear as if out of nowhere from the left, right and/or from their rear. During the initial states of battlefield contact, while camping in close proximity of their enemies at night, they would feign numerical superiority by ordering each soldier to light at least five fires, which would appear to the enemy scouts and spies that their force was almost five times larger than it actually was.
Another way the Mongols utilized deception and terror was by tying tree branches or leaves behind their horses and letting the foliage drag behind them across the ground; by traveling in a systematic fashion, the Mongols could create a dust storm behind hills, in order to create fear and appear to the enemy to be much larger than they actually were, thereby forcing the enemy to surrender. Because each Mongol soldiers had more than one horse, they would let the prisoners and the civilians to ride their horses for a while before the conflict also to fake numerical superiority.

As Mongols started conquering other people, they included the male nomads to their armies if they only surrendered, particularly the Turks and other such as Armenians, Georgians and others willingly or under a threat to be destroyed otherwise. Therefore as they expanded into other areas, their troop numbers can increase as other people are included in their conquests such as during during the battle of Baghdad, which included many diverse people fighting under Mongol leader.

Ground tactics
The tumens would typically advance on a broad front, five lines deep. The first three lines would be comprised of horse archers, the last two of lancers. Once an enemy force was located, the Mongols would try to avoid risky or reckless frontal assaults (in sharp contrast to their European and Middle-Eastern opponents). Instead they would use diversionary attacks to fix the enemy in place, while their main forces sought to outflank or surround the foe. First the horse archers would lay down a withering barrage of arrow fire. Additional arrows were carried by camels who followed close by, ensuring a plentiful supply of ammunition.

In all battlefield situations, the troops would be divided into separate formations of 10, 100, 1,000 or 10,000 depending on the requirements. If the troop split from the main force is significant like 10,000 or more they would be handled over to a significant or second in command leader while the main leader concentrates on the front line. The leader of the Mongols would generally give the tactics used to attack the enemy. For instance the leader might say when seeing a city or town, "500 to the left and 500 to the right" of the city and those would be relayed to the 5 units of 100 soldiers and they would try to flank or encircle the town to the left and right.

Encirclement and opening
The main reason for this is to encircle the city so that they cannot escape and to obviously overwhelm from both sides. If situation deteriorated on one of the fronts or sides, the leader from the hill directed the army to support the other. If it appears that there is going to be significant loss, the Mongols would retreat to save their troops and would engage the next day or the next month after having studied the enemies tactics and defences in the first battle or again send a demand to surrender after inflicting some form of damage. There is no fixture on when and where units should be deployed, but it was dependent on the circumstances during the battle and the flanks and groups had full authority on what they should do at the moment of battle like supporting other flanks or doing their own feigned retreat as conditions seem appropriate in small groups of 100 to 1000 as long as the battle commences according to the general directive and the opponents are eliminated.

Feigned retreat
The Mongols commonly practiced the feigned retreat, which is perhaps the most difficult battlefield tactic to execute. This is because a feigned rout amongst untrained troops can often turn into a real rout if an enemy presses into it. Pretending disarray and defeat in the heat of the battle, the Mongols would suddenly appear panicked and turn and run, only to pivot when the enemy was drawn out, destroying them at their own leisure. Once this feigned retreat became known to the enemy, the Mongols would extend the feigned retreat for days or weeks, to falsely convince the chasers that they were defeated and only to charge back once the enemy has their guards down or retreated back to join their main formation.

Text from Wikipedia