Tes3Mod:Tamriel Data/Military Tactics in the New Era
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As we all know, the Imperial army is by far the greatest military force ever to have been formed. This fact is undeniable. However, part of the Legion's greatness rests in its ability to transform tactically and strategically with each passing era. With this new age of general peace and stability, the greatest threats are the dissatisfied, particularly the peasantry, the Dunmer, and upstart revolutionaries or religious leaders using either of these groups. Therefore, I will address each with regard to their potential tactics, strengths and weaknesses, and ways to deal with the situation.
Combat with the peasantry of Tamriel cannot be engaged in the same manner as that of general warfare; there are a number of vast differences between the trained armies against which the Legions fought and the average peasant militia. First of all, peasants lack the training of a true military force, and there is rarely a semblance of organization amongst their ranks. This means that they will rarely manage to take advantage of a momentary lapse in judgement on the part of their enemies. They will not be able to deliver a truly decisive strike. However, because they lack a commander, there is no true target; whereas an ordinary military force would be crippled by the death of their leader, a peasant militia is protected from such damage. In their case the role of leader rarely belongs to one individual alone.
The strength of the peasantry lies not in their numbers (although there is the potential for them to rapidly draw upon almost anyone in the populace), but in their methodology of warfare. Typically, a force of peasants will avoid direct confrontation in battle and there are several factors working towards this. Despite its presentation as a mass, a mob of peasants remains a collection of individuals. An individual peasant is principally interested in avoiding, if at all possible, personal injury. The consequence of this that peasant mobs once forced into a confrontation tend towards making a show of force,
presenting a fearsomely threatening appearance, in the hopes that the opposing force will back down before any blood is drawn whatsoever. If the opposing force does not back down and actually closes in then the peasant mob will often, given the opportunity, retreat. Occasionally circumstances dictate that the opportunity is either missed or does not exist and fighting is unavoidable. More often a peasant mob will make a deliberate choice to attack based on perceived advantages of time and place. In most cases, their fighting method is a species of hit and run, the idea being that they strike rapidly and do as much damage in as short a time as possible and then get away in the confusion before the target can recover. If the mob has sufficient leadership, this can be done repeatedly. Because of their nature, they may, after each encounter, melt into the general population fairly easily. The difficulty in fighting peasant mobs is one of bringing them to a decisive battle, something which they almost always avoid. By conducting guerilla campaigns, peasant forces have often been successful in frustrating bodies of trained legions for extended periods.
While there are difficulties, there remain three primary advantages the legion has over the mob. The first is commitment, the capacity to simply outlast any peasant rebellion. Even if an entire legion is dismembered the empire will always maintain the resources to recoup losses that would be fatal to its enemies. Another is that the legion is a regular employer of spies, ensuring that information regarding peasant leaders and their movements is obtainable. Intelligence gathering also presents a legion commander opportunities to force by entrapment the conditions for a decisive encounter. Once such an encounter is engineered then the discipline of the legion almost always succeeds, the surprised peasants are quickly broken and upon turning their backs to flee present irresistibly easy targets. Commitment, intelligence and discipline will always run down the mob.
In general, the Dunmer harbor the greatest resentment towards the Empire and pose the greatest threat to its security. Because the potential for widespread insurrection in Morrowind exists, I will address tactics for both individual battles and for war in general.
The Dunmer have proven that they are capable of employing a wide range of means necessary to triumph in battle. Their fervor is unmatched by any Tamrielic race, and they are well-adapted to their homeland, giving them a great advantage in any revolt they might organize. For these reasons, Tiber Septim himself decided that it would be best not to actually battle them for supremacy in their homeland.
The Dunmer usually fight wearing a light armor made from the resources of Morrowind - there are very few metals, and they can't afford to use them for armor. They call this armor bonemold, and it has surprisingly good protective properties for its light weight. Furthermore, this lighter armor allows for increased mobility amongst their forces. Coupled with their knowledge of the land, the Dunmer forces possess incredible speed in their own lands. Therefore, they primarily fight using guerilla tactics, moving in and hitting their enemies quickly before withdrawing to the safety of the wilderness. Should a commander have the opportunity to fight Dunmer forces in a pitched battle, he should take it. The heavy Imperial armor gives the Emperor's troops an advantage in these situations and being able to subvert the Dunmer preference for mobility gives them another. However, be warned. The ardor of the Dunmer forces gives them their greatest advantage. In battle, particularly with foreigners or invaders, the Dunmer will fight with a dangerous ferocity derived from their devotion to their lands and their gods, the enigmatic Tribunal. Little is known about these deities, but they are said to be called the "Living Gods," gods who walk amongst the people. Perhaps this is why the Dunmer feel such closeness to their divinities. Regardless, they will fight to the death for their homeland.
The climate of Morrowind unfortunately works to prevent the use of horses and other beasts useful to the Legion. The animals cannot handle to diseases carried on the strange winds of Morrowind. Also, the Dunmer have a taste for horse-meat, and when emissaries travel to Morrowind, they usually don't get to come back in a carriage if they brought one.
The advantage the Legion has over the forces of Morrowind is quite simple and has been mentioned earlier: the Empire has far superior resources. The Imperial Legion can draw on forces from all over Tamriel to build an army, whereas the Dunmer are isolated and without allies. The Imperial forces have the possibility of simply overwhelming the Dunmer armies should an insurrection get out of hand. Secondly, the Dunmer are not entirely united. Morrowind houses five major factions, which call themselves Great Houses. The five are called House Indoril, House Dres, House Hlaalu, House Redoran, and House Telvanni. House Hlaalu has created a strong relationship with the Empire and is not likely to want its expulsion from Morrowind. Therefore, they would side with the Legion if war were to come. Considering that they are located primarily along the western border of Morrowind, the Imperial Legion could easily transport troops through the mountains via their lands, and supply lines could easily be maintained by this alliance.
The first objective the Imperial forces should meet in a war with the Dunmer would be the capture of all major Dunmer cities. The Dunmer would be forced to fight an open battle to preserve their cities, and the Imperial forces would be able to seize the advantage. If possible, a commander should prevent the Dunmer armies from retreating to the wilds; a guerilla war is the last thing the Legion wants to deal with. The second objective would be to locate and take prisoner the so-called "Living Gods." This would be a death-blow to the morale of the Dunmer armies and could potentially end a war very quickly. Finally, the Imperial Legion would have to initiate a campaign to slaughter the remnants of the armies hidden in the forests and mountains of Morrowind, a very painful but necessary task. The Dunmer are quite likely to fight to the bitter end, and it is the Legion's responsibility to give them that end.
Overall, the Dunmer - if handled properly - are by no means an impossible foe for the Imperial Legion. While war is the least desirable outcome of Morrowind's occupation, we must always be ready to fight.
Revolutionaries and Religious Leaders
Revolutionaries and religious leaders present a very different kind of challenge to the safety of the Empire. These people can give rise to sudden dissent almost anywhere throughout the Empire. Furthermore, they can manipulate any group to do their bidding, particularly those groups mentioned above. Oftentimes, a Legion commander cannot deal with them as directly as one might hope; the martyrdom of a charismatic leader can potentially rally others to his cause, leaving the Legion with a larger problem than the one with which he began.
In general, the rise of a revolutionary or religious leader follows the same kind of path. Revolutionaries will spring up more commonly in large cities where they can quickly spread their message and rouse a large number of people. Usually, they begin with a close order of loyal followers created from their friends and family, and then they begin publishing pamphlets to incite the populace against the ruling force. Any military commander who discovers free-floating pamphlets around the base should immediately initiate an investigation of the barracks using only his most trusted officers - any soldier may have been seduced by the revolutionary, and a pamphlet rarely reveals the more insidious nature hidden beneath the veil. Furthermore, the commander should alert the government about the existence of organized resistance to law and order. Religious leaders, however, will usually rise from the god-fearing and superstitious areas of the land; most commonly, these are farmlands and rural districts. Because Imperial Law is rarely as well enforced out in the countryside as it is in the cities, these insurgents are able to speak publicly against the government without the moderating effect of a military presence. A great speaker can empty entire towns, and patrols sent out into the countryside should be asked to report any strange emptiness found in smaller towns.
The strength of a revolutionary leader or religious leader resides in his natural, inborn charisma, something entirely impossible to combat. Cut out his tongue and people will be drawn to his silence, cut his throat and the people will be drawn to his sacrifice. Indeed, even death cannot dispel the aura of a truly gifted and charismatic leader; like a father, he is capable of extracting the loyalty and admiration of his followers. It is best to deny the insurgent even the right to speak to the Legion's soldiers; his tongue can cloud their minds and sway them from their duty to protect the Empire.
The control and containment of these threats requires a more delicate hand than the one used in dealing with local drunks or the like. In truth, the correct response depends on the situation. I will describe a few ways in which you can deal with the problem. The first way a commander can try to solve this kind of problem is to arrest and execute the culprit. This has the highest probability of succeeding early in the revolutionary or religious leader's career, before they have had a chance to gather a large amount of support. If this is done too late, it can backfire and leave the commander with a number of the insurgent's most loyal followers rallying his cause and drawing in more commoners. The second potential measure a commander can take is to bribe away the insurgent's followers via gold, food, women, etc. Without his support base, the leader with simply wither away and can be dealt with accordingly. If the insurgent decides to attack the Legion or the populace of a town, it is sometimes best to kill him in the fray instead of taking him prisoner, but only if the battle is a sure victory for the Legion's forces. Should their leader die in the middle of a glorious victory, it is likely that the leader's followers will rally around the incredible sacrifice he made for them. When a revolutionary or religious leader has established himself in one location, sometimes the use of more subtle means can have great effect in destroying the morale of the enemy. For example, if an insurgent bases himself in a small town, a commander can send diseased meat or blankets in the guise of a gift from supporters far away. Once they begin to see their undoing, many of the leader's followers will simply abandon the insurrection and return to their homes.
Always bear in mind that these revolutionaries and religious leaders could bring the destruction of the Empire the great Tiber Septim forged by conquest and sacrifice. Eternal vigilance can protect this great empire which all of us hold dear to our hearts; laxity and levity can bring its demise. Remember this, my brothers, and you will serve this kingdom well.