Sunday, April 29, 2012

Optimo Loco ad Pugnam

Optimo Loco ad Pugnam
(Finding the Cookie Jar)

By Gordon S Fowkes, KCTJ
Grand Historian of the Grand Priory of St Joan of Arc of Mexico and Latin America
April 23, 2012

  St Joan of Arc Disclaimer:  The opinions herein are those of the author and not endorsed by the Grand Priory of of Mexico and Latin America.
Author’s Disclaimer: This is a military analysis of the Crusader Era “operating environment’ and includes conclusions and theories.  The conclusions are only when validated with different theories. and the theories are only if validated with different facts.

What’s Important?
 Definitional Interruptus:  There is no longer any use in using the terms “tactical, operational, strategic and/or grand strategic” in the discussion of “levels” of war.  It depends on the size of the frogs and the size of the ponds.  The city-states of Genoa and Venice of the period were very small places with a huge appetite and a long reach.  Their landward sides were vulnerable to infantry, and their fleets were not.  The strategic importance of Jerusalem had operational considerations that told Richard I that it was not worth taking, although he had the tactical capabilities to do so.

Tactics: What’s in range?
Operations: Getting there.
Strategy: What’s it worth?

Tactics: What’s in range?  Tactical considerations include consideration of giving and receiving the bullet, buffet or blade of over the four tactical imperatives: Duel, Defense, Attack and Contra Attack.   Tactical considerations are in part physical as in range, ranging, devastation, and speed. 

 Tactical considerations replicate the equivalent functions of the human body: brain, eyes, arm, fist,  feet and vital organs.  The eyes are the sensory array as in visual or by extension:  electronic.  The arm is that which delivers the fist to the target, it has speed, range, and flexibility. The fist is the terminal effect of the weapon system; it is the warhead, the tip of the spear, and the arrow head.  Feet are the mobility of the weapon platform.
Operations: Getting there, getting resupply, and getting on or getting out (See Jomini Below)

A Byzantine dromon (cruiser) had tactical considerations in its’ design and armament, that had an operational reach from Gibraltar to the Crimea, and was a way of projecting force to enforce the will of the Byzantine Emperor (also used by Venice and Genoa).  If a new device (ship rigged with broadside guns on a deck) came along, the tactical value of the dromon disappeared from dominance of the sea lanes in the Mediterranean.

Handy Terrain Analysis
Handy Terrain Analysis uses your own hands to illustrate common terrain features formed by erosion and their effect on fire and movement from a tactical and operational point of view. 
COCOA: This is an old US Army acronym for  terrain analysis to see how the ground helps or hinders either side.   There is an old acronym “COCOA” which is easier to remember the new and improved one on analyzing terrain.   COCOA has a sensory component to aid in remembering, just think of a cup of Cocoa, smell and remember:
Critical Terrain,
Cover and Concealment,
Observation and Fields of Fire, and
Avenues of Approach .

The current system replaced Critical Terrain with Key Terrain.  They don’t quite mean the same (IMHO).  Critical terrain is that which must be taken, held, and/or denied to the enemy. Key terrain dominates critical terrain.  The road junction in the valley may be critical, but it can only be controlled from a hill just in range (Key).
1. Geography.  The effect of relative relief, of rivers and ridges that make movement easier or harder create choke points to restrain or enhance movement.  The erosion of tilted block  create rivers and ridges which channel movement with the grain, and the passes, fords, and forks that cross the grain.

Water cuts through rock which makes it easier to rock

Over time, water smoothes  the craggy rocky convex outcroppings by erosion and by depositing the earth into alluvial fans which form concave patterns.  The combination of the two creates complex terrain features with convex slopes combining with the concave  The importance of slope is on ease of travel, observation and fields of fire. 

2. Geometry.  The geometric pattern of objects on the ground one to another create opportunities and challenges for the commander.  This includes the concepts of lines of communication,  of fronts, flanks, and rear,  and of interior vs. exterior lines each with tactical and operational mandates.  These concepts are the work of General Antoine-Henry Jomini. Of all the writers on the art of war, his book “Art of War” is the primer for all others.  This is one to commit to memory.

[Wikipedia} Antoine-Henri, baron Jomini (March 6, 1779 – March 24, 1869) was a general in the French and later in the Russian service, and one of the most celebrated writers on the Napoleonic art of war. According to the historian John Shy, Jomini "deserves the dubious title of founder of modern strategy."[1] Jomini's ideas were a staple at military academies. The senior generals of the American Civil War--those that had attended West Point--were well versed in Jomini's theories.[End Wiki]

From his pen to here;

Extracts from the Art of War by Antoine Jomini, available on line at Project Gutenberg (

Jomini, Art of War, page 13
To recapitulate, the art of war consists of six distinct parts:—
1. Statesmanship in its relation to war.
2. Strategy, or the art of properly directing masses upon the theater of war, either for defense or for invasion.
3. Grand Tactics.
4. Logistics, or the art of moving armies.
5. Engineering,—the attack and defense of fortifications.
6. Minor Tactics.
[Pg 14]It is proposed to analyze the principal combinations of the first four branches, omitting the consideration of tactics and of the art of engineering.
Familiarity with all these parts is not essential in order to be a good infantry, cavalry, or artillery officer; but for a general, or for a staff officer, this knowledge is indispensable.

Jomini, Art of War, page 75
Independently of its topographical features, each theater upon which one or more armies operate is composed, for both parties, as follows:—
1. Of a fixed base of operations.
2. Of a principal objective point.
3. Of fronts of operations, strategic fronts, and lines of defense.
4. Of zones and lines of operations.
5. Of temporary strategic lines and lines of communications.
6. Of natural or artificial obstacles to be overcome or to oppose to the enemy.
7. Of geographical strategic points, whose occupation is important, either for the offensive or defensive.
8. Of accidental intermediate bases of operations between the objective point and the primary base.
9. Of points of refuge in case of reverse.

Characters portrayed in "Kingdom of Heaven" by Ridley Scott

Jomini, Art of War, Page 89
The decisive point of a battle-field will be determined by,—
1. The features of the ground.
2. The relation of the local features to the ultimate strategic aim.
3. The positions occupied by the respective forces.

Jomini, Art of War, pages 101-104
It is somewhat different with lines of operations, as they are divided into different classes, according to their relations to the different positions of the enemy, to the communications upon the strategic field, and to the enterprises projected by the commander.
Simple lines of operations are those of an army acting from a frontier when it is not subdivided into large independent bodies.
Double lines of operations are those of two independent armies proceeding from the same frontier, or those of two nearly equal armies which are commanded by the same general but are widely separated in distance and for long intervals of time.[11]
Interior lines of operations are those adopted by one or two armies to oppose several hostile bodies, and having such a direction that the general can concentrate the masses and maneuver with his whole force in a shorter period of time than it would require for the enemy to oppose to them a greater force.[12] Exterior lines lead to the opposite result, and are those formed by an army which operates at the same time on both flanks of the enemy, or against several of his masses.
Concentric lines of operations are those which depart from [Pg 103]widely-separated points and meet at the same point, either in advance of or behind the base.
Divergent lines are those by which an army would leave a given point to move upon several distinct points. These lines, of course, necessitate a subdivision of the army.
There are also deep lines, which are simply long lines.
The term maneuver-lines I apply to momentary strategic lines, often adopted for a single temporary maneuver, and which are by no means to be confounded with the real lines of operations.
Secondary lines are those of two armies acting so as to afford each other mutual support,—as, in 1796, the army of the Sambre and Meuse was secondary to the army of the Rhine, and, in 1812, the army of Bagration was secondary to that of Barclay.
Accidental lines are those brought about by events which change the original plan and give a new direction to operations. These are of the highest importance. The proper occasions for their use are fully recognized only by a great and active mind.
There may be, in addition, provisional and definitive lines of operations. The first designate the line adopted by an army in a preliminary, decisive enterprise, after which it is at liberty to select a more advantageous or direct line. They seem to belong as much to the class of temporary or eventual strategic lines as to the class of lines of operations.

3. Psychology.  
Battle as Braggadocio

Being culturally sensitive doesn’t necessarily mean being nice, or considerate, or exceptionally nasty.  Of the letters in the acronym METT-TC that is the all-purpose checklist for planning and adjusting operations from the Oval office to a foxhole in some far off unpronounceable place. 
Culture, as defined above, affects each of the other considerations including time, terrain, troops, enemy, and ultimately the Mission. That includes battle:
The purposes of battle as in actual engagements with fire and/or movement, is three fold:

We use battle as a method of persuasion by grabbing or smashing something of value to either or both sides, and then brag about it.  Sometimes, the bragging is the most important part of it.  Bragging raises your sides morale, and saps the others.  Better yet, it gets the other side to do something stupid. 

The movie “Kingdom of Heaven” featuring the most telling of Templar Knights of the age takes us from the Siege of Kerak to the disastrous defeat of the Crusades at the Horns of Hattin.

Characters from Kingdom of Heaven

Such was too the case in the Battle at the Horns of Hattin in July 1187 by Grandmaster Girard de Ridefort, our Grandmaster.  His recent accession to the post from outside the Order, an event always rife with contention over whose sword is bigger.  In his case, he countermanded, contradicted, and confused the orders to the Army marching into a desert and without water. All this likely to save face in his own eyes.

Guy de Lusignan, also newly crowned King of Jerusalem (as portrayed in the movie) was an arrogant “jock” with more body than brains.  He was captured at Hattin and released by Saladin, and broke his word not to fight, but wound up with Cypress as a consolation prize his family ruled for another three hundred years.  Considering that he had married his way onto the throne, maybe he had a proper gene pool after all.  His strength was in family values as in competitive survival.

To this potent mix, add Raynaud de Chatillon who also rose to prominence by his prominence in expertise dans les affaires d'amour and married his way into prominence into positions of marital prominence in the Latin Empire of Byzantium.  He was prominently involved in considerable raiding and pillaging those who got in his way until he pillaged himself into Muslim prison for seventeen (17) years in Aleppo.  The Emperor Manuel bailed Raynaud out of jail for 500 kg (1,100 lbs) of Gold in 1176.

Reynaud aided King Baldwin IV (the leper king) to defeat Saladin at Montgisard. Later he built raiding ships and raided the Red Sea to the gates of Medina.  He escaped, but his crews were beheaded.
This is a man with enormous energy, innovative, reckless to fault, and utterly devoted to catch up with compensation for wrongs done to him and mete out vengeance to those he could catch.  His cultural center of gravity  Reynaud de Chatilliion is an ideal example of a vicious cycle of the victim becoming the victimizer

The cultural template and drama diagrams of any given culture may assign a high emotional content to certain geographic locations (Jerusalem, Mecca, Damascus, Rome) which may or may not have much to do with military or economic considerations.  That they have social significance makes them important to the Cultural Center of Gravity.

There is also a good chance that the “Cookie Jar” is also a Center of Gravity” in the Clauswitzean sense around which important outcomes are sought.   The ports of the Levant were the last to fall to Islam and the mainstay of the defense of Crusade territory. 

The Cultural Center of Gravity (CCOG)
Given these disparate persons and a tool to analyze their individual and collective cultural strategies, it is possible to make estimates (SWAG) on the Cultural Center of Gravity based on how each of the rules weigh against each other and which dominate the survival strategies.

This is a CCOG analysis diagram for a notional Knight Templar. 
The Order was a military organization under the religious Rule of Bernard

We show here that the Social Status of fealty to the Cross and the Order is the single strongest rule in accordance with the Rule of St Bernard de Clairvaux.   The travails of the physical world as well as the pleasure is subordinate to the Rule.  We find a similar emphasis with a notional Saracen warrior of faith.

By way of contrast, we can take a notional member of a crime family (Mafia, Corse, Soprano, Yakuza, or Corleone) whose focus on “Da Business” as a set of obligations in the acquisition of wealth and firepower.  The issue of “face” is important in this culture, insults to face can only be washed with blood and/or cash.  The Cultural Center of Gravity shifts to the right compared with the religious orders.
Based on a cultural analysis of the Corleone-Soprano Family
The relation between face, fortune, body and ground in this world is often quite literal.


Descent from Mohammed the Prophet is an inherent legitimacy in Arab succession.  That the Arab keeps very close tabs on heredity issues is a direct carry over from breeding the best horses in the world.  The comprehensive integration of Islamic law into political life grants the interpreter of the will of Allah an edge in political affairs that can supersede civil and political obligations.  
The roles of hero and villain are reversed depending on being a hero or a villain
The written works of Islam have provided a template for governance, economics, and social life that has  had a long shelf life.  The impact of the Crusader presence in the Holy Land has made social and political evolution more hesitant lest “crusader” influence will jeopardize Islam.  This concern took a highly sophisticated in science, the arts, and governance into eventually a more conservative and controlling attitude towards innovation. The Ottoman presence reinforced that to keep Turkish control over non-Turkish peoples.

That we have Sunni, Shi’a and Salafist competing factions today after 1400 years, is a clue as to what counts as authority in Islam.  The post WW1 departure of the Ottoman authority  which had assumed the religious and political mantle of the Arab caliphates for over five hundred years plus another two hundred under Seljuk Turkish rule left a vacuum for that dual source of authority that combines both secular and religious.

The time of the Crusades marked the transition of Arab caliphates from Arab control to various factions of Turkish control.
El Cid and Saladin

The Turks who had defeated and taken over the former Arab kingdoms and empires legitimized In part by conversion to Islam, created “slave” armies with no previous connections of blood or obligations that might rival the Sultans.  The most famous of these were the Mameluks, followed after the Crusades with the Janissaries.  .

 Saladin led a slave army to conquer Egypt.  These slave armies had an undesirable habit of going independent as soon as the conquest was complete.  Saladin established his own dynasty on such a slave army. We know them as Mameluks, who Napoleon integrated into the French Army.  He used them to restore order when order needed to be restored,

Temujin, the Genghis Khan

The succession of the tribal or clan CEO in migrating or nomadic peoples was the survival of the survival of the most dangerous.  The China, India, the Middle East, and Europe had little to fear from the Mongols unless an able warrior climbed to the top of a pile of murdered relative and rivals.  Such was Temujin, later called Genghis Khan whose father was murdered. His mother and he were expelled from the tribe, and left to fend for themselves in the wild.  

From cast out, sold as a slave, double crossed to the emperor of history's largest empire
(that's a lot of brown stamps)
The extensive grasslands of the Steppes provided the fodder to fuel the life style and war across an entire continent.  The terrain was relatively flat so enormous wagons drawn by oxen carried huge Yurts filled with supplies.  This rich and flat land promoted factionalism in tribes and families.

Genghis Khan replaced the tribal basis of organization into multiples of ten, with collective responsibility of the whole for the successes and failures of one. He added a courier and reconnaissance capability, likely as a result of contract with the advanced state of the military art in China.  Promotion in the Mongol Hordes was based on merit.  Consequently, the quality of the top leadership and the chain of command were world class above and beyond anyone else’s.
Do it before it is done to you, and ride like the wind

Later the  Ottomans solved the problem of the loose slave army problem by kidnapping Christian children into the Janissaries, an elite and ferocious fighting force whose atrocities would make the SS turn green with envy.

Hic desinit lectio

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