Ranger patrol tactics

Western(esse) Martial Arts / Numenorean Martial Arts....

How Ranger's Fight

Moderators: Eric C, Greg

User avatar
Kortoso
Haeropada
Posts: 796
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:37 pm
Location: San José, California
Contact:

Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Kortoso » Wed Dec 14, 2016 7:36 pm

Background
One of the things my group does as an activity is field archery. So we have had the opportunity to move as a group through the woods, armed with bows. One of my members had gone through training as a US Army Ranger, so he couldn’t resist teaching us about tactical movement. For my part, I served briefly in the National Guard and got a little infantry training.

Source
Tolkien appears to reveal the composition of a typical Ranger unit:
If they were astonished at what they saw, their captors were even more astonished. Four tall Men stood there. Two had spears in their hands with broad bright heads. Two had great bows, almost of their own height, and great quivers of long green-feathered arrows. All had swords at their sides, and were clad in green and brown of varied hues, as if the better to walk unseen in the glades of Ithilien. Green gauntlets covered their hands, and their faces were hooded and masked with green, except for their eyes, which were very keen and bright.


Modern equivalent
The four-man team that Tolkien illustrates, it rang a bell some time ago. Now I remember where I had heard of it.

The 4-Man SAS Patrol

The SAS commonly deploy as four-man patrols. Such a small number has proved its worth during the SAS's experience in jungle combat in Malaysia. It was found that, for many operations, smaller patrols worked best. Four is small enough to avoid detection and still carry enough stores to get the job done. A four-man patrol is the smallest tenable unit possible since it allows for a wounded member to be carried out by two others whilst being covered by a third.


I remember reading elsewhere about this size of unit being ideal, since two can keep watch while two sleep or tend to other duties. And of course, each can watch a different quarter of the compass.

Most basic small-unit patrol formations (diamond, chevron, most ambushes) need at least four people to perform. In typical file formation, the first man watches directly ahead and also pays attention to tracks. The number two man would watch and guard to the right, the third would watch to the left. The last man would watch behind. In modern military parlance this relates to "sectors of fire".

Adaptation
So perhaps the Professor was thinking of spears and arrows providing complementary support. Arrows alone might not provide enough security; a couple of archers would not stop a horde of orcs in their tracks. A handful of rangers, even at best, is limited in the number of arrows they can get out in a minute, and most of them may not be instantly fatal. If the formation is overrun, something like a couple of spears would help slow the enemy's charge. Probably on the march, the spears would be in the front and in the rear, since the archers can shoot past them.
Middle Earth Rangers of the Bay Area
Dúnedain Rangers on Youtube
There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.
Straelbora
Haeropada
Posts: 846
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:00 pm
Location: Indianapolis, IN USA

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Straelbora » Fri Dec 16, 2016 4:32 am

Nice piece of info.

I wonder what the practice was in WWI for British soldiers, if Tolkien picked it up there, or if it's simple coincidence.

Spears seem to have been much more used in the Classical period of Europe and before. In the context of Middle-earth, I would think they would find their best use in going up against enemies on horseback (or wargback), as well as larger foes such as trolls.
Vápnum sínum skala maðr velli á
feti ganga framar því at óvist er at vita
nær verðr á vegum úti geirs um þörf guma
Hávamál
Zaskar24
Wanderer
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2015 12:29 am

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Zaskar24 » Fri Dec 16, 2016 2:29 pm

Having been Army Infantry and having served with a few Rangers this all sounds correct to me Kortoso. I learned a lot about patrolling and the first thing I thought of when reading the title was the patrol tactics I learned from the Rangers.

I tend to agree with the use of the spear as a primary melee weapon in this case since it can be used even against infantry to help keep some distance when employed correctly. Especially with the support of bows working in two Ranger teams.
User avatar
Kortoso
Haeropada
Posts: 796
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:37 pm
Location: San José, California
Contact:

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Kortoso » Fri Dec 16, 2016 5:24 pm

Thank you my brothers. I look forward to more discoveries in this regard.
(Can't resist archaic phraseology; please forgive me.)
Middle Earth Rangers of the Bay Area
Dúnedain Rangers on Youtube
There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.
User avatar
Kortoso
Haeropada
Posts: 796
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:37 pm
Location: San José, California
Contact:

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Kortoso » Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:08 pm

I've been looking at military training manuals for various armies from the pertinent periods.

One thing that stands out is how the soldiers for one war are - for the most part - initially trained using the lessons of the previous war. So I look at a WWII manual, especially from the earlier years, and see which tactics worked for them in WWI.

Tolkien's WWI was mostly trench warfare. Regardless of the parallels we've seen drawn with Middle Earth, WWI didn't seem to have a predecessor of the Ranger for Tolkien.

However, many of the senior British soldiers that took command were veterans of the Boer War, and these commandos might have given some inspiration to Tolkien.

I notice that the SAS had its earliest starts among British soldiers in the colonies fighting in "asymmetrical" conflicts.

Truth to tell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, Robert Baden-Powell served as an officer in one of the conflicts of the Boer War.
Middle Earth Rangers of the Bay Area
Dúnedain Rangers on Youtube
There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.
User avatar
Peter Remling
Athel Dunedain
Posts: 3353
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 4:20 am

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Peter Remling » Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:53 am

I was checking out some of the Civil War references for scouts. We all are aware of Rodgers Rangers and the Green Mountain Boys. Much has been written on their tactics even though they are generally written about larger forces than the four man groupings. They all have parallels to much of what we are discussing.
User avatar
Grimolt
Wayfarer
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:53 am
Location: Spokane, WA

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Grimolt » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:07 am

My apologies for waking a long sleeping post, I hope that you will forgive me for any incivility.

I feel that I can competently shed some light on relatively current US Army doctrine regarding recon/patrolling tactics, techniques, and procedures. I served (got out in March 2015) as a RSTA Cavalry Scout, with my last duty positions being a Platoon Sergeant, and Squadron Operations NCO. I served in combat in both urban (Baghdad) and rural (NW Afghanistan) theaters of war, with plenty of training and travel in all sorts of terrain in between. I was fortunate in receiving first class training in all sorts of great areas including tactical battlefield forensics, (which involved evidence collection, fingerprints, DNA, all that CSI stuff), as well as RSLC and ARC (both reconnaissance schools with different emphases). This type of military training doesn't make me any more qualified to speak to the types of skills that the Rangers of the North or the Ithilien Rangers had though, so please take my opinions with the proverbial grain of salt.

The first observation I'd like to make is that the Ithilien Rangers in the circumstances described were essentially Faramir and a few hand picked rangers doing a quick security sweep in the vicinity of their prepared ambush site. In TTT "of herbs and stewed rabbit", Faramir and nearly his whole command had established a prepared ambush of a Southron column, when they noticed Gollum, (or signs of Gollum) around. Faramir took a very small force (likely in order to preserve stealth and retain surprise), and he and his men essentially ran directly into Frodo and Sam. Once he established that there was no threat of the Southron column discovering his ambush, or of security danger from the hobbits, he left two rangers to guard them and rejoined his larger force, successfully completing a decisive ambush. Long story short, the four man patrol in this case doesn't really reflect the type of LRRP/LRS employment that I think was originally envisioned in this thread.

My second observation is that during WWI, the prevailing doctrine regarding operational reconnaissance from previous era of warfare largely revolved around cavalry units. As the conflict matured into the modern era, aircraft and mechanized units started to assume the role of operational reconnaissance. Because of this, I speculate that Tolkien's wartime experiences of small reconnaissance elements wouldn't have been on the operational level (like say, small units of rangers patrolling in Ithilien), but rather at the tactical level (small recon elements out to determine the exact location, composition, and disposition of enemy forces in the immediate battle-space). As Tolkien was a Lieutenant in a line infantry regiment during his war, I think that he would have definitely had experience leading exactly the type of small security patrol that Faramir did in TTT, especially given the terrain of the Somme valley. I doubt very much that he had any experiences with what we'd call LRRP/LRS (long range reconnaissance patrol/long range surveillance), like the Rangers of the North or Ithilien perform in the books. As he was the recipient of a first class education and loved to read until the end of his days, there is just no telling where exactly he received his inspiration from.

Thirdly, from my own experience, I posit that a four member team for reconnaissance missions absolutely must avoid discovery by any enemy force. If a four member team is discovered by even a small patrol of the enemy, they haven't the combat power to make a fight of it. If the enemy were security conscious, they would make eliminating that small force a critical priority in order to preserve their own operational security. The Rangers primary responsibility would be to gain precise information on the composition, disposition, and location of the enemy force, and deliver that info back to the larger element that could engage the enemy. So likely, the rangers would have to run for it and be pursued by packs of goblins or Southron forces or whatever in a pretty desperate situation. Bows are relatively short range weapons, so even if the four man team pulled off a perfect ambush, they'd need to be close enough to the kill zone that the enemy they were engaging could run into melee combat range so quickly that executing the ambush itself wouldn't make much tactical sense, (other than in sheer desperation). There are always terrain considerations or equipment considerations that might make the ambush more viable, like ambushing an enemy in terrain that they can't really respond from such as from elevated positions or during vulnerable points like river crossings. However, it's so much more worthwhile to send a runner back to Faramir and set up that decisive ambush, that killing a few Southrons with your little patrol makes no sense. In the absence of radios, maybe rangers set up Thrush relays? lol! Either way, I suspect the weapons that such a small element as envisioned in this thread could carry on them would be for personal security, not so much for military direct action on the enemy.

Fourthly, SAS four man patrols (or any modern force for that matter), have the advantage of using force multipliers that make a tremendous difference in the lethality that they bring to a fight compared to forces equipped with Middle Earth weapons. For instance, one of the SOP's that we (myself and my soldiers) used in Afghanistan on our night patrols was that if we established a near ambush, (read up on L-shaped ambushes) we'd all throw a frag grenade, fire two magazines from our weapons into the kill zone, as well as 2 belts from the gpmg, and then break contact back to our pre-established rally point. In my case, we'd usually have 8 or 9 soldiers on our patrols with a variety of weapons that gave us lethality out to about 1km...but even if we had only 4 like an SAS patrol, that would be a kill-zone with 200 rounds of belt fed ammo and 60 rounds per carbine equipped soldier, plus grenades. Under those circumstances, it's quite realistic for a small unit to take on a unit that is 2 or 3 times their size and use surprise and violence of action to totally wipe them out or at least maul them so terribly that they would be ineffective in less than 30 seconds. Middle Earth Rangers don't have that kind of firepower at their disposal, and so would have to come up with totally different techniques for taking on superior numbers of enemies. While one can and should definitely be thinking about using combined arms to maximize combat capability, and be using individual movement techniques like moving from cover to cover or patrol techniques like bounding overwatch and such, I don't think that we'd be doing ourselves any service by overestimating our combat power in such small patrols. Much better (in my opinion) to be ghosts out in the battle-space, and for the enemy commander to simply lose contact with his unit and never know that they were the victims of a well laid, decisive ambush that had been enabled by quality intel delivered by scouts.

Any rate, just considering these ideas in this thread has provided me with hours of enjoyment, and for that I give you thanks. I hope that these ideas provide you the same.
Very respectfully,
Grimolt
Love not too well the work of thy hands and the devices of thy heart; and remember that the true hope of the Noldor lieth in the West and cometh from the sea.
User avatar
Elleth
êphal ki-*raznahê
Posts: 1663
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:26 am
Location: in the Angle; New England

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Elleth » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:50 pm

Wow.

Thank you for answering the call in the real world, and thank you very much for sharing your experience here!

The difference technology makes to required numbers makes a lot of sense.
It also makes me all the more puzzled at the numbers of the Grey Company that arrive with Halbarad - a scarce thirty men are "all of our kindred that could be gathered in haste" he says. And that at the summons of their Chieftain who would be King, presumably on a mission of great importance.

For reference, a colonial muster deep in the wilderness in the Revolutionary War era could call a thousand men - and that leaving a great number behind to guard against native attacks. The Angle - home of the remnant of the northern Dunedain - seems to be around the size of West Virginia. To only be able to gather thirty men for a mission of that importance implies it seems either an extremely sparse population, or very heavy commitments elsewhere. Or am I missing something?

Regarding radio and the difference that makes: I know there's mention of talking with birds - and fear of discovery by birds and even trees! It doesn't sound like (at least for the Rangers) that there's anything resembling a reliable wireless communication network however. Interesting permutations nonetheless. Given your experience, I'm curious how you think that kind of thing would play into the evolved habits of the Dunedain.
Persona: Aerlinneth, Dúnedain of Amon Lendel c. TA 3010.
User avatar
Grimolt
Wayfarer
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:53 am
Location: Spokane, WA

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Grimolt » Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:58 pm

Elleth,

I think that regarding the Grey Company, or any of the Rangers in the North, the analogy of a colonial muster is way closer to their organization than that of the military unit of the Rangers in Ithilien. Even then, it's a bit on the iffy side in my opinion. The way that Tolkien writes of them makes it sound more like a muster of long hunters in colonial Tennessee or something to that effect. I do believe that the colonial muster analogy works though, because Arnor's government had fallen to pieces, people were self-sufficient and decentralized and living in small pocket communities that were linked together only by proximity and need (as opposed to formal alliance). Which sounds, now that I think about it, quite a bit more like the developing years of Mercia and Wessex following the exit of Rome from Britain that is much more likely to align with the academic training and focus of an Oxford don who specialized in Anglo-Saxon language, literature, and history. (duh, smack! facepalm).

Even so, the Grey Company numbers about 30, which is right in line numbers wise with a current scout platoon. They could break down into smaller squads easily and gain the advantage of being able to cast their net wide (so to speak), but still mass force on an enemy of up to about company strength (around 100) and be really dangerous. I don't know any approximation of just how many people lived in what used to be Arnor, so it's hard to speculate in a meaningful way about why only 30 or so of the Dúnedain could ride out to Aragorn on short notice. Tolkien makes it clear that it's Aragorn's foster brothers and his best brochacho Halbarad, (who even thinks to bring along Aragorn's horse from the north) who are leading them. Presumably, they were all Rangers who knew Aragorn personally. Reflecting from either the colonial frontier analogy, or from the Britain in dark ages analogy, gathering 30 elite quality warriors who can drop their current commitments and ride out on short notice is actually pretty impressive.

The Ithilien Rangers of course are quite different, as they are a military unit of Gondor. They have a centralized command, uniform equipment, and precise military tasks and orders that they are required to follow by their oaths of service.

As far as long range communication goes, I have no idea. Tolkien's genius gives us reason to believe that Dúnedain through their Elven heritage spoke animal languages in both the "horse whisperer" sense and in the literal "I can talk to squirrels" sense. Additionally, some birds (like Thrush, Ravens, and Eagles in the Hobbit) could communicate with people in their own or even the common tongue. Well trained animals, (like Glorfindel's horse Asfaloth) responded intelligently to speech. So, while I was thinking of WWI and carrier pigeons in a tongue in cheek way regarding my earlier comment on Thrush communications, on further reflection, I suppose it wouldn't be uncharacteristic of the Rangers to use animals in that way. There is also the supernatural element, wherein powerful persons like Galadriel or Elrond could reach out and make their wishes known or deliver instructions through dreams or omens. By and large though, mundane communication seems far more prevalent. Gandalf left a letter for Frodo with Butterbur, and scratched a hasty message into the rock on top of Weathertop. Gondor and Rohan communicate via messenger or beacon. The Dwarves under the mountain and in the Iron Hills communicated via runners, and had lost contact with the Moria expedition having no idea what happened to them. At the council of Elrond, Galdor had arrived from the Grey Havens "...on an errand from Círdan the Shipwright." Legolas had come as a messenger for his father, and so on. Boromir explained that he and Faramir had both had supernaturally dark dreams, leading to them seeking his fathers council...where he convinced Denethor to let him seek Imladris. He big-brothered his way into that job, as Faramir wanted to be the one to go, but Boromir was like "too dangerous little bro, I got this." Another long story short, it seems that in Middle Earth, if one has the skills to talk to animals and trees, or through dreams, one does it. Otherwise, they send a runner.

V/r

Grimolt
Love not too well the work of thy hands and the devices of thy heart; and remember that the true hope of the Noldor lieth in the West and cometh from the sea.
User avatar
Kortoso
Haeropada
Posts: 796
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:37 pm
Location: San José, California
Contact:

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Kortoso » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:56 am

Thank you, Grimholt! This is exactly the "on the ground" background I was fishing for. I'm eager to hear more.

I think that Elleth's point is well-taken that if a total of 30 Grey Company men is all that can be gathered in haste (mind you, this is not just for a random muster, but to save all humanity), then it doesn't seem that these thirty gathered as such a force very often or ever. They may not have known one another...

My mind is that the professor is suggesting that once there may have been a robust force of northerners, perhaps in a role and configuration similar to the Ithilien rangers, but they had been reduced in number over the years. In that case, they'd have to adapt their tactics to a more "asymmetrical" character. I recall that in the Fellowship, some northern Rangers tried to stop the Wraiths, but couldn't and had to flee or die...
Middle Earth Rangers of the Bay Area
Dúnedain Rangers on Youtube
There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.
User avatar
Udwin
Amrod Rhandir
Posts: 558
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:00 pm
Location: banks of the great River, Kaintuckiana

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Udwin » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:34 pm

Very interesting food for thought, Grimholt. Thank you for your field experienced wisdom!

Elleth wrote:The Angle - home of the remnant of the northern Dunedain - seems to be around the size of West Virginia. To only be able to gather thirty men for a mission of that importance implies it seems either an extremely sparse population, or very heavy commitments elsewhere. Or am I missing something?


West Virginia seemed too large, so I checked it against a US-overlaid-on M-e map, and measured on the main LotR map with scale.
The Angle south of the East Road is a triangle roughly 75 by 110 miles, for an area of approx 4,125 sq miles (1/2 * Base*Height)

I've been thinking a lot about New England recently, so...
Compare the Angle to Connecticut (closest appropriately-wooded state of an easily-measurable shape), which is (according to google earth) 90 by 55 miles, for an area of 4500 sq miles.

Triangular Vermont 90 x 155 is 6,975 sq miles...1.7 times larger than the Angle)
(Pennsylvania is 45,260 sq mi, almost 11 times larger than the Angle!)
Personae: Aistan son of Ansteig, common Beorning of Wilderland; Tungo Boffin, Eastfarthing Bounder, 3018 TA
User avatar
Grimolt
Wayfarer
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:53 am
Location: Spokane, WA

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Grimolt » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:47 pm

Kortoso,

I was giving Elleth's idea some thought.
To only be able to gather thirty men for a mission of that importance implies it seems either an extremely sparse population, or very heavy commitments elsewhere


I realized that I was thinking at the problem in a myopic and self-oriented way. And that my first instinct was to view the situation from my own perspective. By way of explanation, I have a social media account that I don't often view, that I largely use to keep in touch with my acquaintances around the world (mostly in the US of course). A few hundred of those acquaintances are brothers-in-arms. Not long after I got out in 2015 (less than a year later, in fact), a brother that I went to war with contacted me about going to Turkey and joining up with a YPG group to fight ISIS. I declined, but instead offered to help him in other material ways. To his credit, he followed the prompting of his conscience and went anyway, spending just under a year as a volunteer. So, without going into longer story, that was in my head thinking about Elleth's question. In my mind, Rangers are elite units, far better trained than a local levy (even of hard people in hard times)...so I was thinking along the lines of getting anyone (much less a full platoon's worth of warriors) to drop all commitments at a moments notice and ride out is kind of a miracle.

However, I realized that's not Middle Earth. (duh smack! facepalm)

After that moment of revelation, I thought that I had better check out Tolkien's references to calls for warriors and the like.
Right after the council of Elrond in TFOTR at the beginning of "The Ring Goes South", Gandalf tells the hobbits "...Some of the scouts have gone out already. More will go tomorrow. Elrond is sending Elves, and they will get in touch with the Rangers, and maybe with Thranduil's folk in Mirkwood. And Aragorn has gone with Elrond's sons..." I had forgotten all about this, and it's kind of important to this idea, because it essentially gave the Rangers a warning that great danger and dark times were at hand, and to be ready. So, +1 for Elleth's idea that the population was really low or that Rangers were already heavily committed.

WARNING: Self Congratulation Here!!! Please avoid if Grimolt's smugness may irritate you! After Moria, when the fellowship reached the outskirts of Lothlórien, they came under the aegis of Haldir and a few of his fellow border patrol members. A "strong company" of orcs (a hundred he states later) ostensibly hunting for the fellowship, had invaded the boundaries of Lórien, and Gollum used the confusion to try and get close to the ring. Haldir interrupted Gollum's attempt, causing Gollum to flee, after which Haldir explained to Frodo that he couldn't fire at Gollum and raise a cry, because they couldn't risk battle. He goes on to state that he sent a messenger (Orophin) back to his people to warn them of the orcs, and that the remaining three were luring the orcs further into the wood with the result that "...None of the orcs will ever return out of Lórien. And there will be many Elves hidden on the northern border before another night falls." Nice validation by the old man of how to use scouts here.

Ok, anyway, the pertinent levies I found were in Rohan. Rohan already had a sort of standing military force in the Riddermark that seems reminiscent of Anglo-Saxon lords and their Húscarls. After Rohan realized the true threat of Orthanc, and again when the host rode off to the battle of Pelennor fields, there was a call out for the levy. Before the battle of Helms Deep, Théoden called out the levy saying

"...The host rides today. Send the heralds forth! Let them summon all who dwell nigh! Every man and strong lad able to bear arms , all who have horses, let them be ready in the saddle at the gate ere the second hour from noon!"

At the beginning of the chapter, Tolkien explained that Gandalf and the three hunters had arisen at dawn, and made their way to Meduseld in bright morning, so Théodens call for the levy to be ready by 2pm indicates an immediate hasty call up of every military capable male within a few mile radius of Edoras. Timeframe was something like "we are going to eat lunch right now, and then ride out", so the call can't have gone more than 20 or 30 minutes worth of travel away.
Tolkien doesn't give us much detail on the numbers of Théodens host, but when they were consolidating with the force Erkenbrand left at Helms Deep to protect the people of the Westfold that had gathered there, Gamling stated he had about a thousand men fit to fight on foot, and that three fourths of the population of the Westfold (women, children, and the old) were gathered in the caves.
We still don't gain the benefit of solid numbers, but context sure makes it sound like at Helms Deep Théoden's total fighting force was a thousand or so that he brought, plus the thousand of Erkenbrand's rear guard.
On the last day of battle, when Erkenbrand and Gandalf showed up, Erkenbrand had a thousand dismounted men that charged into the orc flank, driving them into the trees (of doom) that had shown up mysteriously (at Treebeards command, we find out later). All told, a total hasty mobilization of Rohan's core city and the Westfold resulted in something like 3-4k troops.
Later on, in ROTK "The Muster of Rohan", after Théoden called for a general mobilization of the whole country, when Théoden received the red arrow from the messenger of Gondor, he expressed his regret that his people were so scattered, and remarked,

"Ten thousand spears I might have sent riding over the plain to the dismay of your foes. It will be less now, I fear; for I will not leave my strongholds all unguarded. Yet, six thousands at the least shall ride behind me."

So, total mobilization of all Rohan would result in a force of approximately 10k, of which 3/5ths could be used as an expeditionary force. Using loose stats that indicates that the total population of Rohan was around 40-50k. Of the 6k that Théoden could take on expedition, even though they were his best 6k, I'll make a wild guess that only about 10% of them were high quality troops...essentially the household troops of Théoden, Eomer, and Elfhelm if we go by the identified Marshals of the Mark. So, (again, sheer speculations here), with that in mind, I'll speculate that each household had an elite fighting force of about 200, more or less.

If we look at the Grey Company as Aragorn's household troop keeping in mind that he calls them kin, (but then again, all Dúnedain are kin), and then apply the same 10% ratio to a complete mobilization, that would give us about 300 total military age males, resulting in a population of Dúnedain in the North of around 1200 or so. That wouldn't count the common folk who lived in the area that used to be Arnor, like the Breelanders and such. It's all speculation, of course, but a community of Dúnedain that small also explains why their leader is called a Chieftain, (not a king in exile), and why the heir is always fostered in Rivendell.

So, long story short, even though my numbers are unscientific and only loosely supported by the texts, I'm convinced now that Elleth was right on the money in identifying the Dúnedain of the North as being extremely scarce in population, and likely already committed to internal rangering tasks. Really, the only people free to go support Aragorn would have been his closest friends and household, and that would be the Grey Company.

Thank you again friends, for the joy of scouring the books and thinking through these questions.

V/r
Grimolt
Love not too well the work of thy hands and the devices of thy heart; and remember that the true hope of the Noldor lieth in the West and cometh from the sea.
User avatar
Kortoso
Haeropada
Posts: 796
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:37 pm
Location: San José, California
Contact:

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Kortoso » Sun Jul 22, 2018 3:44 am

Grimolt wrote:I realized that I was thinking at the problem in a myopic and self-oriented way.
As do we all, brother. :)

Grimolt wrote:Haldir interrupted Gollum's attempt, causing Gollum to flee, after which Haldir explained to Frodo that he couldn't fire at Gollum and raise a cry, because they couldn't risk battle.

That bit's rather curious and not only the "fire at" verbal phrase. Would arrows have made a lot of noise? I'm not sure about the context of this? Perhaps the professor was thinking of the constraints of modern weapons?

By the way, patrol order today is generally spaced out so that a bullet hitting one soldier won't go through his neighbor, isn't it? But with arrows being the primary missile threat, I imagine that a patrol would be spaced out a little differently. Your ideas on this?

Thank you!
Middle Earth Rangers of the Bay Area
Dúnedain Rangers on Youtube
There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.
User avatar
Grimolt
Wayfarer
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:53 am
Location: Spokane, WA

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Grimolt » Sun Jul 22, 2018 5:50 am

Kortoso,
While arrows are quiet, people (and other creatures) more often than not don't die quietly. I'm afraid that Tolkien would have known that all too well. At least, that was where my mind went regarding what Haldir was referring to, I could very well be missing the mark. However, when a Galadrim scout says the shot was too risky to loose, I'm inclined to take him at his word! :lol:

Patrol order is how I'd usually describe who goes where, like....senior scout up front on point, followed by the machine gun, followed by the patrol leader, the radio, any specialists like interpreters, medics, FSTers, and so on until your second most senior scout pulls sweep duty at the rear. When operating with larger elements, it's still just a way to describe who goes where. One note is that the direction of travel is always the front when using clock directions. That way everyone knows where to look when someone calls out contact 3 o'clock, etc.

As far as patrol spacing goes, the stock answer is that it depends on METT-TC (mission, enemy, terrain, troops, time, and civilian considerations). In close terrain with poor visibility (like thick woods, or jungle) we might go down to about 1-3 meters between soldiers in single file...far enough apart that an explosion won't take out the whole patrol, but close enough that we can still pass hand signals down the chain quickly. In wide open terrain, like plains or rolling hills, we might space a tactical wedge out 75-100 meters or farther between each soldier, in order to increase our "footprint" while we move through an AO trying to spot things like vehicle tracks, shell casings, trash, poop, previous hides or fighting positions, etc. It's flexible, and it changes during patrols along with any other changes to METT-TC.
One SOP my unit practiced was that no soldier got farther out from the patrol than half the max effective distance of the most powerful weapon system on the patrol....so if your most powerful weapon is an m240b machine gun with a max effective point target of 800 meters on the bipod, you don't get more than 350-400 meters(ish) away from that weapon, so that it can support you with a great deal of precision wherever you might be in the formation. Adjust as needed for other weapons configurations.

In Middle Earth, one might apply that same kind of thinking in a combined arms patrol like you described, with bows and spears. With archers like Legolas in your formation, you'd probably feel quite comfortable with him point shooting enemies 75-150 meters away, so you wouldn't want to be more than 50-75 meters away, so that he could support you precisely. In Moria, Legolas shot through the second hall when engaging the goblins chasing the fellowship, and it was a "long shot for his small bow", so there is definitely some wiggle room there based on what types of bows are in the formation. If you were massing your forces to exploit a breach or to defend a chokepoint or something, you wouldn't want to be any farther than a few feet away from the spear wielder to your left or right. With swords (and or swords and shields) you'd want to be shoulder to shoulder in order to support your comrades and likewise.

It's just one of those handy guidelines passed down to us. There will definitely be times in combat where the mission or circumstances might put one outside the support range of their patrol, but those are really dangerous times, swingin' in the breeze so to speak. Of course, it's less than epic and heroic to "gang up" on the enemy, (unless it's a cave troll), but when it comes to putting hurt on the enemy without them putting hurt on you, it's the best way I know of the get the job done.

V/r
Grimolt
Love not too well the work of thy hands and the devices of thy heart; and remember that the true hope of the Noldor lieth in the West and cometh from the sea.
User avatar
Elleth
êphal ki-*raznahê
Posts: 1663
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:26 am
Location: in the Angle; New England

Re: Ranger patrol tactics

Postby Elleth » Sun Jul 22, 2018 3:57 pm

Udwin wrote:West Virginia seemed too large, so I checked it against a US-overlaid-on M-e map, and measured on the main LotR map with scale.
The Angle south of the East Road is a triangle roughly 75 by 110 miles, for an area of approx 4,125 sq miles (1/2 * Base*Height)..


Yikes! Well I misread the map I was looking at pretty badly! Never put me in charge of navigation I guess. :mrgreen:

If we look at the Grey Company as Aragorn's household troop keeping in mind that he calls them kin, (but then again, all Dúnedain are kin), and then apply the same 10% ratio to a complete mobilization, that would give us about 300 total military age males, resulting in a population of Dúnedain in the North of around 1200 or so. That wouldn't count the common folk who lived in the area that used to be Arnor, like the Breelanders and such. It's all speculation, of course, but a community of Dúnedain that small also explains why their leader is called a Chieftain, (not a king in exile), and why the heir is always fostered in Rivendell.


I'm still very torn on the northern population of the Dunedain.

Your logic is sound, certainly. Michael Martinez has addressed the topic a couple times as well:
https://middle-earth.xenite.org/how-des ... third-age/
https://middle-earth.xenite.org/how-man ... ere-there/

Another possibility is that what forces the Dunedain could muster were already so spread out or committed that it was impossible to make contact with more than a handful in the limited amount of time available before departure (days? hours?) - which in turn suggests that communication was likely limited to runners. I don't see a reference to Rivendell being attacked, but given that both Mirkwood and Lorien came under seige, and "the Misty Mountains were crawling like ant-hills" I could easily imagine a sigifiant portion of what fighting men the Dunedain could muster were already engaged screening approaches from the mountains down into Rivendell and points southwest.

Regardless, it seems we've got to be talking about a population numbered in the thousands at most: which are frightful "endangered species" kind of numbers. (eek!)

While arrows are quiet, people (and other creatures) more often than not don't die quietly. I'm afraid that Tolkien would have known that all too well. At least, that was where my mind went regarding what Haldir was referring to, I could very well be missing the mark. However, when a Galadrim scout says the shot was too risky to loose, I'm inclined to take him at his word!


I'm quite certain you're right. :/
Persona: Aerlinneth, Dúnedain of Amon Lendel c. TA 3010.

Return to “WMA / NMA”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests