The essence of military organization is the ability to deliver a force that can fight, move and communicate. Those essential principles have not changed in millennia and are not likely to do so in the near future. With this in mind, and with the example of various old, but still effective weapons in front of us, what other older military technologies might be effectively employed today? We've touched on a few well-known examples, mainly related to personal weapons.
What about communication and movement? How did fighting organizations manage these things in the past, and how did they try to stop the enemy? One principle of warfare is to divide your enemy into smaller forces and to defeat one piece at a time. This applies both strategically and tactically. Modern day armies use various sorts of high explosive land mines to restrict movement about the battlefield, with good effect, but at least at the start of any resistance movement FreeFor is unlikely to have wholesale access to claymore mines, "bouncing betties" or other modern methods of area denial and obstruction.
How did our forefathers discourage enemy movement? It turns out that there were several methods employed, all of which deserve some consideration.
A caltrop is a four pointed spike designed so that one vertical point is supported by three underneath it. Sometimes these sharpened points are barbed, sometime not. Picture, if you will, an imaginary tetrahedron (four sided pyramid) where the vertices are all iron spikes fastened together at the center. These devices were in use in Roman times, first against horse-drawn chariots and then against light and heavy cavalry, and on into the middle ages. Both the ancient Japanese and Chinese are known to have used them, and they were used in Western warfare in World Wars 1 and 2, although mostly against vehicle tires. The advantage of the caltrop is that when deposited on firm ground, it always lands with one point upwards. If fabricated so that the points are several inches long, they can penetrate any normal human footgear and the foot inside it, and most horse's hooves to a tender layer.
When spread across an area, one every few inches, caltrops render travel on foot, by either human or horse, extremely hazardous, and render most inflated tires flat in short order. They also make infantry much more cautious about flopping on the ground when shot at. Historically caltrops were largely employed against cavalry in open ground, and certainly they have been effective against both horse powered and mechanically powered transportation. In most situations, they are less effective against infantry because under most circumstances infantry are likely to kick them out of the path of travel. In rocky or mountainous terrain, however, caltrops may have the potential to slow enemy movement. They can also be tied to string, small rope, or thin wire to preclude being kicked out of the way. or to allow being dragged into position.
In a modern context, any modern day Mongols would find their traveling abilities significantly degraded if they were to gallop across a field sown with caltrops. While the wounds from a single caltrop are unlikely to be immediately fatal, the horses would not be able to be ridden, and any riders unlucky enough to have fallen onto the caltrops themselves would not be likely to have any further interest in promoting oppression. At least not that day or for some time to come. Anyone unfortunate enough to land on several would have a significant chance of being grievously wounded or killed, even absent chemical or biological treatment of the spikes.
There is a reason that military and police forces have used these and similar items for over 2000 years. They are the ancient equivalent of the antipersonnel minefield, quick to deploy, hard to see in grassy fields, ugly to those who encounter them, hard to recover, and indiscriminate in effect. Just like mines, caltrops don't care who steps on them. Caltrops are a wicked weapon, and I would expect that anyone caught using them against the forces of oppression would be treated very harshly. They are, however, effective and quiet, at least until somebody or something steps on one.
(signs reading "Danger, Caltrops!" with a picture or sample of the device in question might act as a significant deterrent to enemy movement especially after the first time they are encountered by Bad People. Whether or not they actually have been deposited might almost be beside the point....no pun intended.)
Another historic device to protect infantry against cavalry is the swinefeather. In its simplest form, this was a wooden stake about 6 to 8 feet long, pointed on one end, driven into the soil at about a 30 to 45 degree angle from the horizontal, and then sharpened again on the top end. These were typically installed in staggered rows each stake about 2 or 3 feet apart and each row about the same. Usually at least 4 or more rows were installed to make rapid movement by cavalry across the obstacle impossible; archers and crossbowmen used them, and later, early musketeers.
Later on, more advanced models with iron spikes, a shovel-like imbedding shoe on the earth end, and a steel pikepoint on the business end, were developed and used. These devices were more visible than caltrops, and easier to pick up and relocate. Cavalry avoided them, as impalement on a razor sharp spear would be bad for one's health. As an obstacle to modern infantry they leave much to be desired, but might cause mobs of people to pause and take stock, especially if spaced more closely. The Cheval de Frise is somewhat similar, consisting of rows of sharpened stakes or metal rods fastened to a frame made of planks or logs; there are a number of variants on the basic concept, which is to interpose a large quantity of sharp points between the enemy and the direction in which he wants to go. These have been employed in various conflicts during the 19th and 20th century, especially where barbed wire was not available
The stimuli is something akin to a swinefeather, but much smaller and less obvious. Tactically it fills a similar niche to the caltrop, and is even more effective against cavalry. A stimuli is a barbed Z shaped spike set into the ground, usually using your foot to stamp it in. In softer ground, they were more effective than caltrops. The Romans used them for many centuries. The closest modern analogue is the pungi stake, and like pungi stakes they historically were sometimes poisoned; sometimes venomous snakes were tied to them after they were set. One point goes into the ground, then there is an offset of about 4 or 5 inches, the width of a boot, and then a iron or steel spike going straight up about 3 to 6 inches or more to a sharp barbed head. Sometimes, in soft ground, the lower metal point was set into a longer wooden stake, to get better stability. Stimuli are easier to set than swinefeathers, and easier to recover than caltrops. They can easily cause lethal damage.
There is also always the pungi stake, a smaller version of the swinefeather. The Vietnamese used bamboo, but there is no reason that hickory, ash, or white oak cannot be used too. The problem is that you have to pound them in on the end that you must then sharpen, or provide some sort of fixture so that presharpened pungi stakes can be driven into the ground. They can also be lethal.
Tanglefoot wire, concertina, razor wire, and regular barbed wire fence are all effective, obstructing movement by both people and vehicles, and less lethal, but they do take time and effort to emplace, and they are hard to relocate quickly. (Razor wire is particularly nasty to handle.) They also require heavy manufacturing capability; usually you have to buy them and that usually leaves a record. Caltrops, stimuli, pungi stakes, and swinefeathers historically were easy to carry, quick to fabricate and deploy with simple tools, effective, and low tech. Any reasonably equipped home workshop can produce these items in quantity fairly quickly. No records, either.
Keep in mind, however, that these are weapons of war. They can seriously injure or kill people, and I would not use them in any situation where I was not justified in contemplating the use of lethal force. I do not advocate their fabrication and use, and I hope each of you will join me in my fervent hope that this discussion will remain academic. If however that hope is frustrated, we who serve the Light should know the historical methods that can help keep the modern Mongols at bay.
With regard to all who serve the Light,