By Junior Adriel Chan of the 10th Kuala Lumpur Company
Everyone knows about the famous battle between David and Goliath. On the left, the Philistine champion Goliath, who was as big as a giant! On the right side,the only one who was brave enough to face him off was the young boy David. And the story goes on with David conking Goliath on the forehead with his sling. Boring... but there is more than that story, as Corporal Nathan unveiled in his article: the not so miracle. In the article, Corporal Nathan shows that Goliath was actually at a disadvantage due to Davids ranged weapon! What does it take to win? Is there some secret to triumphing over an opponent?
Let's start of with Lawrence of Arabia, a low-ranking British officer that was supposed be in Arabia to study archaeology. He was enlisted to help in the uprising of the Arabians against the Turks in 1914. He fought alongside Arab irregular troops, using guerrilla tactics very effectively. The Arabs were equipped with just a rifle, a hundred rounds of ammunition and some water; just the essentials. Meanwhile, the Turkish army was very modernised, formidable opponent. They had far more soldiers and armed might than the Arabs did. The Turkish troops were highly trained in comparison to the Arab soldiers; most of the Arabs had never even held a rifle before, much less shot one. One of the British commanders in the region went so far as to call them an “untrained rabble, most of whom have never fired a rifle.” Then again, these soldiers were tough and used to being under a burning sun, while the Turks weren't used to the hot climate. An Arab troop carried a rifle, a hundred rounds of ammo, forty five pounds of flour and some water, allowing them to move at a fast speed. A famous general once said the art of war was about legs, not hands. Lawrence's troops were all legs! They knew the country like the back of their hand, plus they knew how to find water. The Turkish troops however were carrying quite a bit of equipment, which would slow them down considerably. They could run out of water and then die of dehydration, or could get lost in a desert. So what Lawrence would do would be to strike at one point and get out as fast as possible, and it worked very well. Here is a quote from the book “David and Goliath: “
In one typical stretch in the spring of 1917, his men dynamited sixty rails and cut a telegraph line at Buair on March 24, sabotaged a train and twenty-five rails at Abu al-Naam on March 25, dynamited fifteen rails and cut a telegraph line at Istabl Antar on March 27, raided a Turkish garrison and derailed a train on March 29, returned to Buair and sabotaged the railway line again on March 31, dynamited eleven rails at Hedia on April 3, raided the train line in the area of Wadi Daiji on April 4 and 5, and attacked twice on April 6. (quote)”
The Turkish troops were used to the enemy fighting them strait up in the conventional way, and that was what they were most effective at. They weren't used to having an enemy slinking around, quickly attacking and then running away! The Arabs cards were speed, not hitting power, and knowledge of the country,which are the trademarks for all successful guerrilla fighters. And successful Lawrence was, with his small band of natives. What is considered his masterstroke was the attack on the port Aqaba. It was expecting an attack from the British ships on the west. Lawrence chose to attack from east, something no ordinary British general would ever do; to attack through the east flank, the attackers would have to cross a snake infested desert! It was summer then, making the already very hot weather even hotter, but Lawrence still went ahead with it! He used seven hundred men to conquer a port manned with twelve hundred soldiers! The Turks simply didn't think anyone would attack through that direction.
We often think that in battles between a stronger and a weaker (David and Goliath battles), the stronger will win most of the time. But if the smaller country chooses to fight like Lawrence, unconventionally,that country would be the equal of the bigger country. In the total of all the wars that happened between a small and big country, 64% of the time the smaller country won! We think that in David and Goliath battles, the Goliath will win; it will seem like a miracle to us if the “David” wins. That is why the David and Goliath story has been so popular. Yet, what we see as an advantage is actually in reality a hindrance! Not everything is always as it seems…