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posted by LaminatorX on Monday March 10 2014, @10:27AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the And-on-the-org-chart-bind-them dept.

nobbis writes:

"From 'A Tolkienist's Perspective Blog' : a two part article part 1 part 2 about the military structure in Mordor. There is a hierarchy chart if you want a summary.

Was the rapid collapse of the military following the destruction of the ring indicative of the fragility of this structure , and its susceptibility to a decapitation strike ? Would a flatter hierarchy or something similar to the Imperial Military or Starfleet have been more resilient?"

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by ObsessiveMathsFreak on Monday March 10 2014, @10:59AM

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (3728) on Monday March 10 2014, @10:59AM (#13821)

    Most probably the “Tower†is Lugbûrz (unless it’s Cirith Ungol), but the way Snaga says such phrase seems to indicate that a feud broke out between the Dark Tower and Minas Morgul. Perhaps, not between Sauron and the Nazgûl, but rather between the orcs themselves.

    This seems pretty speculative. The Orcs from Minas Morgul and the Cirith Ungol orcs do fight one another yes, but the book makes it pretty clear that this infighting is principally sue to the presence of the ring, and to a lesser but important extent due to the general tribalism and treachery among the orcs themselves. There's another instance of infighting earlier in the two-towers, and I believe in the Hobbit also if I remember correctly.

    But to suggest that Minas Morgul went to war with Barad-dur is a bit of a stretch. Still, it put me in mind to read the books again to confirm things.

    P.S.

    A lot of Mordor military structure probably comes from the structures of old Numenor -- the Black Numenoreans military which conquered subdued most of Middle Earth and even Sauron himself at one point. Not to mention the fact that former Numenorean generals ( the Nazgul) are in command of the Dark Lords armys. But enough fanwanking for now I think.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by hka on Monday March 10 2014, @11:05AM

    by hka (1828) on Monday March 10 2014, @11:05AM (#13823)

    Everyone knows the collaps was inevitable. They didn't get enough sunshine to sustain themselves. See this article: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2013/199/11/hobbit- unexpected-deficiency/ [mja.com.au]

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Rune of Doom on Monday March 10 2014, @06:26PM

      by Rune of Doom (1392) on Monday March 10 2014, @06:26PM (#14160)

      We only ever 'see' the crapy, volcanic-fortress parts of Mordor. Tolkien was always clear (speaking through Aragorn or Faramir, IIRC) about the vast slave farms of southern Mordor, around Lake Nurn.

  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by RedGreen on Monday March 10 2014, @11:24AM

    by RedGreen (888) on Monday March 10 2014, @11:24AM (#13825)

    Really get one to waste your time debating a made up story is foolish, it was as resilient as the author wanted it to be for the purpose intended in that story nothing more nothing less.

    --
    "I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Hockey Giraffe on Monday March 10 2014, @01:50PM

      by Hockey Giraffe (3729) on Monday March 10 2014, @01:50PM (#13945)

      Get a life you say? "Get a life"?

      It seems like his life is interesting enough for you to comment on and pick on. Perhaps you are jealous.
      On a related note, I must admit that his hobby is peculiar, but that only makes him (and his life) more interesting to me.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by melikamp on Monday March 10 2014, @11:40AM

    by melikamp (1886) on Monday March 10 2014, @11:40AM (#13835) Journal
    The chart omits Saruman, who reported to Sauron for a while, which is indirectly evidenced by Gandalf's musings, and also directly by the fact that the orcs of the eye and of the white hand join forces to retrieve the hobbits, at least until Saruman's orders kick in and lay bare his betrayal of Sauron's trust.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by monster on Monday March 10 2014, @11:46AM

    by monster (1260) on Monday March 10 2014, @11:46AM (#13842) Journal

    Come on! the "collapse" was the only way Tolkien could justify how a small human army could survive the encounter with the orcs. You know, it would be quite a let down to get Frodo to finally destroy the ring and then return to the gates and find that Aragorn and the others had been slaughtered.

    It's called "literary license" or, as seen more frequently, Deus ex Machina.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by webcommando on Monday March 10 2014, @05:16PM

      by webcommando (1995) on Monday March 10 2014, @05:16PM (#14116)

      Quote: "Come on! the "collapse" was the only way Tolkien could justify how a small human army could survive the encounter with the orcs. You know, it would be quite a let down to get Frodo to finally destroy the ring and then return to the gates and find that Aragorn and the others had been slaughtered."

      I'm not completely versed in military hierarchy or how military structure was done in the past. This topic does offer an opportunity to think about it though. What would really happen if the person bankrolling the operation is destroyed in an instance? I'm assuming most of the forces are there by coercion or being paid. Surely if you aren't going to be supported (not just pay, but supplies), you wouldn't worry much about slaying the "enemy".

      I know orcs hate the race of men, but what really would happen if it was suddenly every "man" for themselves? Wouldn't different tribes begin to fight with each other for whatever resources are left or just head back home?

      I could also see them raiding in small groups. However, would it be a cohesive army capable of rolling over the human army? I think probably not. Who is left to step in keep everyone in line? What would happen to a gang if the head of the family and all his lieutenants disappeared instantly. I think there would be too much infighting to take control to worry much about what is going on outside the gang.

      I know this is all pure speculation or thought experiment to be anthing more than just a conversation starter. I welcome someone's insight who has more experience or knowledge in this area.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by VLM on Monday March 10 2014, @05:49PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 10 2014, @05:49PM (#14135)

        Aside from taking control:

        "And that's the plan, note that first wave is predicted to take about 80% casualties"
        "Oh, I don't like that"
        "Well, you can obey, or take 100% casualties as a traitor"
        "Err, uh yeah, now that you put it that way..."

        Vs

        "Well, that was the plan as written, but he's dead now. Note that first wave was predicted to take about 80% casualties, but with lack of intel it might be higher"
        "Oh, I don't like that. My sword says your team goes first. You go first, I must insist."

        There is the very practical situation that the land and "people" were the same before the leader arrived and they never successfully organized to beat the good guys. So now the leader is gone so its not all that unlikely they'll lose badly as it always was.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by monster on Monday March 10 2014, @05:54PM

        by monster (1260) on Monday March 10 2014, @05:54PM (#14139) Journal

        What would really happen if the person bankrolling the operation is destroyed in an instance? I'm assuming most of the forces are there by coercion or being paid. Surely if you aren't going to be supported (not just pay, but supplies), you wouldn't worry much about slaying the "enemy".

        Maybe, but you have to keep an eye to the fact that this is "old style" or hand-on-hand warfare. Even if the orcs were to know that their master had been destroyed at that same moment, they were fighting at arm's length. In those battles soldiers were able to see or hear from their nearby fellows at most, that is why trumpets and horns were so used to signal. In a situation like that, turning your back to the enemy gets you little more than a quick death, unless the enemy is unable/unwilling to pursue (the difference meaning an orderly retreat, a rout or a slaughter). And the book presents the battle as somewhat big (the human army being clearly outnumbered in a suicide mission to buy time for Frodo) so we are talking to several thousand orcs at least. For reference, many battles of ancient history or even middle ages were between armies of those size.

        It is the most "jumping the shark" moment in the movies, when the ground collapses below the whole orc army, even doing a semicircle around the heroes to avoid them.

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Joe Desertrat on Monday March 10 2014, @07:44PM

        by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Monday March 10 2014, @07:44PM (#14202)

        Sauron and the Nazgul controlled mostly by fear. The orcs didn't like the Nazgul but obeyed them. Now imagine suddenly that fear and all leadership was suddenly removed, as well as towers crashing down, the mountain destroying itself, etc. The idea of of an army continuing to press an attack under those conditions is remote. Most would probably immediately take flight for anywhere but there. Assuming the men of Gondor were still organized any small, dispirited resistance would be easily mopped up. Further down the road the slave farms would have likely been in revolt, those paying tribute to Sauron would be looking out for themselves instead, etc.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by CoolHand on Monday March 10 2014, @04:14PM

    by CoolHand (438) on Monday March 10 2014, @04:14PM (#14052) Journal

    There truly isn't enough detail from anything I've read to be sure, but from my perspective, I always considered the Nagul to be outside of the command structure completely. They would be a special case scenario - they commanded through fear - both from their own power, as well as Sauron's. Unless Sauron himself was around, you'd better obey them. Yet, they have no "direct reports", so I don't believe they should be listed as they are in his illustration. The Witch-king of Angmar being put in charge of all armies at the siege of Minas Tirith is more of a special case scenario, I believe, than a standing organization policy. I think maybe more accurate would be to put the 9 Nazgul in a cloud somewhat below Sauron, and pretty close on a level with the mouth of Sauron, and arrows from all three going to the captains of the armies. I don't think the captains were directly commanded from the Nazgul or the mouth on a normal basis, but if any of them gave a captain an order, the captain better listen..

    --
    Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job-Douglas Adams
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by melikamp on Monday March 10 2014, @05:12PM

      by melikamp (1886) on Monday March 10 2014, @05:12PM (#14113) Journal
      For the most part, I agree with your commentary. The only thing I'd like to add is that the Witch-king of Angmar was in command of the Minas Morgul, and all orcs and trolls attached to that tower reported directly to him. But, in accordance with what you are saying, it is incorrect to put all orcs under the Nazgul. There does not seem to be any evidence of the lesser eight commanding anything (they are more like Black Captain's personal body guard), and the vast majority of Mordor orcs never reported to the Witch-king aside from the week-long Minas Tirith campaign. This is evidenced rather directly by the fight in the Tower of Cirith Ungol, with Shagrat and Gorbag clearly answering to entirely different hierarchies: one chain of command ascending through Lugburz, with orders to deliver all spies unspoiled, and the other one through Minas Morgul, with nothing but unclear hints from the Nazgul.
      • (Score: 1) by CoolHand on Monday March 10 2014, @05:57PM

        by CoolHand (438) on Monday March 10 2014, @05:57PM (#14141) Journal

        Right... I had meant to put an exception in regarding Minas Morgul, and any "troops" based there..

        --
        Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job-Douglas Adams
      • (Score: 1) by Rune of Doom on Monday March 10 2014, @06:30PM

        by Rune of Doom (1392) on Monday March 10 2014, @06:30PM (#14162)

        Somewhere in the mass of additional materials that have been published over the years I'm pretty confident I recall a statement that Khamul was in charge of Dol Guldur for many years, much in the same way that the Lord of the Nazgul was in charge of Minas Morgul.

        • (Score: 2) by melikamp on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:25PM

          by melikamp (1886) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:25PM (#14824) Journal
          A very interesting piece of history I was not aware of, probably because I never got a chance to read The Unfinished Tales. I think we can all agree that it is hard to talk about THE military structure of Mordor, since pieces moved so many times.
          • (Score: 1) by Rune of Doom on Wednesday March 12 2014, @07:41PM

            by Rune of Doom (1392) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @07:41PM (#15468)

            Definitely. Given that Sauron founded Mordor in the Second Age and ruled it for about 2500 years before his realm was overthrown by the Last Alliance, then refounded it in the Third Age about 2000 years later and ruled for another millennia, talking about 'The' military structure of Mordor is like talking about 'the' military structure of the Roman Empire x 4 or 5. Still fun to think about though.

            For example, in the 3rd Age, would Sauron have just attempted to rebuild his now-ancient force structures and tables of organization, or would he have modified them to reflect new realities, or just started from scratch? Did he even care about such things, or would he have just delegated such matters to the Nazgul and other lieutenants, worshippers, and lackeys? (In my headcanon he would have taken a keen interest, but YMMV.)

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10 2014, @09:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10 2014, @09:39PM (#14304)

    It works like this: Sauron gave orders to commanders (orcs/wraiths), who gave orders to subcommanders, who gave orders to sub-subcommanders, etc. As a whole, the orcs are a truly unruly and chaotic bunch. They is always wantin' to know who 'the man' is so they can go stomp his ass and take his loot - as reparations for the raw deal of life they inherited. When Sauron died, so did the wraiths. That leaves just the orc commanders and the unruly orc masses under their command - the masses that still want blood and loot. A commander, unable to answer the questions of the masses about who to kill and rob now, would find himself quickly, treacherously, and violently diposed. So what's an orc commander to do? Tell his legions that all their woes stem from the 'other' orcs (that aren't under his command). Orcish civil war ensures. If the 'orc commander' truly believes his own yarn, he sticks with his men and fights it out with them. If he doesn't and is smart-ish, he makes a gettaway in the midst of the battle.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10 2014, @11:05PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10 2014, @11:05PM (#14348)

    A total orc collapse is completely believable.

    First. Sauron had just sensed Frodo using his ring. He sent all of the Nagzul and probably some of his generals
    to the Mount of Doom to stop Frodo. So a lot of the chain of command was falling apart.
    Second The Shadow was lifting, sunlight was flooding the battlefield and orcs hate the sunlight.
    Third. Orcs make great cannon fodder, but not the ideal soldier. Sauron uses sorcery to suppress their fears. no doubt the mind control he exerted, he also used to organize them. No doubt when Sauron panicked and thought all is lost some of that got sent to the orcs. Once Sauron was gone, the mind control vanished. At first the orcs were dazed then they said "what am I doing here sticking my neck out, I'm outta here". In fact Tolkien says once Saurons mind control was broken, most orcs fled, with only the most staunchest Sauron supporteers still fighting.

    • (Score: 2) by melikamp on Monday March 10 2014, @11:27PM

      by melikamp (1886) on Monday March 10 2014, @11:27PM (#14368) Journal

      I was about to write just this. The command structure wasn't the problem. The necessity of mind control provided by the rings of power was the problem. Orcs really are awful soldiers, with no sense of loyalty and no ambition beyond extending the influence of their little tribes. The army of orcs, who are by nature quite disorganized, could only function well under his direct stare, or in the presence of a ring of power.

      One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
      One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

    • (Score: 1) by Boronx on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:39AM

      by Boronx (262) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:39AM (#14497)

      This is backed up by the bit where it's the humans that fight to the bitter end, not any orcs.

  • (Score: 1) by paddym on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:12AM

    by paddym (196) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:12AM (#14427)

    "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is 'Never get involved in a land war with a Maia,' but only slightly less well known is this: 'Never go in against Sauron when death is on the line.'"

    Then he glanced around with his one big eye, and upon seeing the Great Pirate Roberts was still alive, promptly collapsed.

    Or something like that.