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Old 06-02-2017, 05:52 PM   #15
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan View Post
He never seems to have gone to the bother to effectively equip and train the orcs.
The essay on Orcs in Morgoth's Ring does mention "trained armies" of Sauron's Orcs: "the Orcs of his own trained armies were so completely under his will that they would sacrifice themselves without hesitation at his command." He also points out that "many were by training as tough as Dwarves in enduring hardship," which is interesting. I like the idea that Dwarves are the standard for endurance, and it's noteworthy that some Orcs were trained to comparable levels.

Also, when Frodo and Sam are with the Orcs in Mordor, the column collides with a "troop of heavy-armed uruks from Barad-dūr". I think you're right that Sauron didn't care about the Orcs, but at least some of them may have been better soldiers than we give them credit for. It seems to me that there were "lesser" Orcs used as "cannon fodder" as it were, but also better, tougher Orcs used as heavy shock troops, not elite in any sense by the standards of the Free Peoples, but strong and as professional as you could get in Mordor.

As you point out, however, the tendency of Orcs to fight amongst themselves if not wholly dominated by the will of a powerful Ainu seems to have been one of their most serious shortcomings as soldiers. The essay on Orcs even points out that Orcs "hated one another, and must be kept ever at war with some 'enemy' to prevent them from slaying one another." This certainly explains the incident at Cirith Ungol, in which idle Orcs on guard duty fall to violence amongst themselves. Also, Sauron's will was occupied elsewhere at the time, upon his forces in Gondor.

The essay on Orcs also mentions of Morgoth's armies that "orks who dwelt long under the immediate attention of his will - as garrisons of his strongholds or elements of armies trained for special purposes in his war-designs - would act like herds, obeying instantly, as if with one will, his commands even if ordered to sacrifice their lives in his service". In this manner, the "training" of Orcs might seem to involve and include a heavy dose of brainwashing, conditioning them to accept their Master's commands without hesitation.

As such I would argue that there probably were fairly well-trained and well-equipped Orc forces in Sauron's hosts, but that they still needed to be heavily monitored and centrally directed to prevent them from relapsing into their natural tendency to fight each other and cause chaos.
"Since the evening of that day we have journeyed from the shadow of Tol Brandir."
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