Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Artem Templar Munitionis - Fortifications

What is medieval history without castles, sieges, drama and heroism? The subject of the art of fortification during the time of the Templar order is a big subject with many exhaustive tomes replete with illustrations and references.  In keeping with the needs of the knight whose need to know in the saddle, under fire, or siege, shortness is Godliness (cleanliness was never a strong virtue in those days).
Fundamentals of fighting haven’t really changed save as the impact of technology on people, purpose and terrain.
A modified code of the Four F’s of Fighting (no relation to F4F) specify four actions regarding the enemy:
Find, Fix, Fight and Follow through.
FIND: reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence to determine the location, disposition and composition of enemy forces.   This gives a rough calculation of the capabilities and weaknesses of the enemy to attack, defend, withdraw, or reinforce.
That is why taking the high ground is a central theme in combat operations
FIX: Force the enemy to deploy from the march, and restrict his tactical maneuvering. In the defense, this is the placement of obstacles the retard movement in or out of places to his advantage.  In the offense, this is placing fires or close combat on key parts of the enemy to restrict the range of options of fires and movement available to the enemy, as in pinning them down.
FIGHT:  Once fixed, the enemy can be closed with and/or fired upon to destroy the capabilities of the enemy to move and shoot.  This is so closely related to Fixing the enemy in practice that fixing flows into fighting as in determining who retains the advantage to move or shoot. In this regard, a successful retreat means that the final blow by the enemy was deterred leaving the forces to fight another day.
FOLLOW THROUGHFollowing though means recovery, restoration and reordering one’s forces to continue the fight or leave on one’s own option.  In Korea, this meant that once an objective (hill top) was taken, a Chinese counter attack was already moving through those kicked off your hill, calling for  an immediate defensive stance.
And preparing to move onto the next High Ground either front, rear, or flank that affords observation and/or protection from enemy fires and observation.
The essence of fortifications is to block movement to the cookie jar (your kitchen) with obstacles and fires, by creating one’s own High Ground (walls, towers, gates, etc) from which fires can be poured down on enemy forces in range. 
 Defense of the Cookie Jar
The question of where to fortify depends on the purpose of why to fortify of which is the object of protections (The Cookie Jar) with respect to the location and orientation of the fortifications: The “cookie jar” is either in front, behind or  you have it in the fortification.
You have the cookie jar. Having the cookie jar (your treasury, your own fanny, or those of your allies) mitigates towards fortifying a place far from easy access, and difficult to assails. The favor hill tops above the fray. The fortifications of the Assassins at Alamut were on a remote mountain peak.    Chateau Gaillard built by Richard the Lion Heart in France is another.

Chateau Gaillard by Richard I

The cookie jar is behind you.  This applies to fortifications of towns, ports, and important locations religious, economic, or political that is fixed in location, not always easy to defend.  Carcasonne is one of the best preserved city fortifications and the greatest of all were the walls of Constantinople. The Great Wall of China was to keep the Mongols and Turks from the great cookie jar that was China.

The cookie jar is in front of you.  The Templar Knights and the other holy orders of knights had a primary mission of protecting Pilgrims going to Jerusalem and other holy sites.  The “cookie jar” in this case was the Pilgrims moving from one point to another. Fortifications in support of this often were small and positioned at strategic locations that could provide cover for Knights on duty and a temporary refuge for pilgrims.  These include many of the great works such as the Krak des Chevalier in Syria, maintained by the Hospitallers.  After years of successful defense, the Krak fell to deception and a lack of proper OPSEC (Operations Security): they accepted a fake surrender agreement from next higher.
Krak des Chevallier - Syria

Handy Terrain Analysis

Handy terrain analysis is a good predictor of those places where cookie jars that need protecting (other than your own) as military movement and the movement of goods and people follow the path of least resistance favoring places where multiple routes must come together (El Paso, Petra, Vienna, London, Manhattan, Paris, St Louis, Buda Pest, et al) or that multiple routes are more accessible. 
Generally, those are places where the mode of transportation changes, or on the far side of an obstacle (river, mountain pass) like Denver, Koln, Frankfurt am Main, Amsterdam, and Rome.  The factors that favor commerce create cookie jars that need to be protected.

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