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Desert Warfare

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Military conflict takes place in a desert.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Rmpdc on Feb 5th 2018 at 6:56:14 AM
Last Edited By:
Rmpdc on Feb 13th 2018 at 6:55:17 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

So you have a Thirsty Desert. That in and of itself is already an inconvenience for anyone going through it, but for any soldiers trekking through one in the middle of a war, they now have an additional threat, in this case an enemy force that they must fight. But that isn't the end of their problems. Any warring faction now has to deal with shortages of water and fuel supply, two things that, when crossing through the desert, are a matter of life and death. On a positive note is that there are no civilians for miles on end, and that tanks are now given a free reign to advance straight through wherever they please. When there are civilians, expect a Hidden Elf Village near an oasis, or as later works depict, in major cities surrounded by desert.

Desert Warfare is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a trope that involves fighting that takes place in a desert. In contrast to Jungle Warfare and Urban Warfare, where fighting takes place mostly in close-quarters, Desert Warfare is a new story altogether. In this kind of scenario, expect elite soldiers trained in fighting in the desert performing long range patrols, usually on specialized vehicles, but also on foot on certain occasions. As mentioned above, tanks are now able to move freely and advance quickly, and this can usually end up with a massive tank battle taking place. Because of this, defending forces will usually set up Anti-Armor defenses such as anti-tank artillery or land mines, usually concealed with camouflage netting.

Compare and contrast with the aforementioned Urban Warfare, Jungle Warfare, and Winter Warfare, where fighting takes place in cities, lush tropical rainforests and jungles, and in the snow, respectively. Interestingly, a lot of recent examples of Desert Warfare also overlap with the first one, especially if the work is set during The War on Terror.


Examples:

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     Comic Books 
  • Nick Fury Peacemaker: Fury is captured by Germans in the African theater and released, getting rescued by British fighters with a guerilla approach to warfare. This influences Fury's later approach to special-ops warfare, though by the end of Fury: My War Gone By he realizes Elites Are More Glamorous was a very bad mindset that ignored the crucial necessity of having foot soldiers do most of the work.
  • Commando stories set in North Africa during World War II will often have desert fighting between British forces and Rommel's Afrika Korps as a staple.

     Film 
  • Patton has the first part of the film set in North Africa, showing just how ideal the desert was for Rommel, and later, Patton himself, in pulling off tactics involving tanks.
  • Sahara (1943), starring Humphrey Bogart. It has all the tropes related to this and Thirsty Desert, with the main characters initially focusing on Crossing the Desert and looking for water. It later becomes this once the Germans start advancing towards the well that they hold.
  • The Desert Fox has the first third of the film set in North Africa, showing through Stock Footage the losing situation for the Axis forces in North Africa.

     Literature 
  • Discworld
    • Pyramids: When the kingdom of Djelibaby (Ancient Egypt) is removed from time, the warring states of Tsort and Ephebia (equivalents to Troy and Ancient Greece) resume their war, which involves building giant wooden horses and waiting for the other side to drag them into their own city.
    • Small Gods has Vorbis (the unofficial leader of Omnia) plan his retaliatory counterattack against Ephebia before the actual attack (an Omnian speaker getting booed off tage, later retold as his getting murdered by the Ephebians) by having the army cross part of the desert and leave supply caches that the next group can use to cross the desert, taking the Ephebians by surprise.
    • Jingo has Ankh-Morpork at war with Klatch (the Middle-Eastern cultures counterpart). Being led by Ankh-Morpork's finest military minds, the army of course left without adequate supplies, water or siege equipment and is attacking the single strongest fortified point in Klatch. Only Carrot, Vimes and Vetinari's presence prevents a total slaughter by getting the D'regs to not attack everyone, arresting both armies and agreeing to surrender rights to an island that sinks a few days later respectively.

     Live-Action TV 
  • The 1960's show The Rat Patrol depicts the adventures of the title Allied combat team against the German Afrika Korps in the Libyan desert during World War Two.

     Video Games 

     Real Life 
  • Which leads to the Real Life situation where North Africa became the central focus of British involvement in WW 2 - for three years. Initially thought of as a quiet colonial backwater where major war was least likely to break out, British forces in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean were pared back to the minimum and it was lowest priority on the supply chain for just about everything. Thus, Mussolini's declaration of war n Britain meant approximately forty thousand British personnel were now threatened by up to four hundred thousand Italians. The series of battles that ensued - a Curb Stomp Battle against the Italians - saw British troops facing a largely beaten Italian army but unable to get much further largely because of the fearsome logistics of sustaining an army, with all it needed, in a desert. Even something as basic as water was fiercely rationed: at the height of the fighting, a British soldier in the desert was issued no more than three pints of water per day for all needs. Later on, when Rommel took over leadership on the Italian/German side, the Axis armies were similarly plagued with supply difficulties. The North African War was as much one of logistics as of combat and was only really resolved when Lend-Lease provided sufficient equipment for the British to gain overwhelming superiority, including in supply and replenishment systems, allowing the breakout from El Alamein and the landing of new British and American armies in Tunisia to overwhelm a struggling, under-resourced, Axis army, that by now was being cut off from its sources of supply in Italy.
  • From the Cold War, there's the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, which was essentially this trope combined with The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized.
  • The Gulf War is probably the most famous recent example, complete with Epic Tank-on-Tank Action and incredibly rapid advances.
  • The War on Terror, particularly if set in the deserts of Iraq.

Feedback: 4 replies

Feb 6th 2018 at 1:27:49 AM

  • Discworld:
    • Pyramids: When the kingdom of Djelibaby (Ancient Egypt) is removed from time, the warring states of Tsort and Ephebia (equivalents to Troy and Ancient Greece) resume their war, which involves building giant wooden horses and waiting for the other side to drag them into their own city.
    • Small Gods has Vorbis (the unofficial leader of Omnia) plan his retaliatory counterattack against Ephebia before the actual attack (an Omnian speaker getting booed off tage, later retold as his getting murdered by the Ephebians) by having the army cross part of the desert and leave supply caches that the next group can use to cross the desert, taking the Ephebians by surprise.
    • Jingo has Ankh-Morpork at war with Klatch (the Middle-Eastern cultures counterpart). Being led by Ankh-Morpork's finest military minds, the army of course left without adequate supplies, water or siege equipment and is attacking the single strongest fortified point in Klatch. Only Carrot, Vimes and Vetinari's presence prevents a total slaughter by getting the D'regs to not attack everyone, arresting both armies and agreeing to surrender rights to an island that sinks a few days later respectively.
  • Nick Fury: Peacemaker: Fury is captured by Germans in the African theater and released, getting rescued by British fighters with a guerilla approach to warfare. This influences Fury's later approach to special-ops warfare, though by the end of Fury My War Gone By he realizes Elites Are More Glamorous was a very bad mindset that ignored the crucial necessity of having foot soldiers do most of the work.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Khemri (Ancient Egypt) is littered with the tombs of its former kings, each of which was buried with his army and brought back as skeletons due to the eternal-life ritual not working. Unfortunately, each king believes that he is the rightful ruler (and is technically right) and that he has to fight against all these other usurpers claiming to be the rightful ruler.

Feb 7th 2018 at 1:43:55 AM

  • De-capitalized (Conflict).
  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
    • Added [[foldercontrol]] .
    • Red Linked the names of works without TV Tropes work pages as per Red Link.
    • Namespaced work names. Warning: failing to do this this can result in suspension from editing.
    • Italicized work names as per How To Write An Example - Emphasis For Work Names.
    • Corrected spelling (it's -> its).

Feb 7th 2018 at 1:52:13 AM

Live Action TV

  • The 1960's show The Rat Patrol depicts the adventures of the title Allied combat team against the German Afrika Korps in the Libyan desert during World War Two.

Feb 7th 2018 at 3:23:34 AM

Which leads to the Real Life situation where North Africa became the central focus of British involvement in WW 2 - for three years. Initinlayy thought of as a quiet colonial backwater where major war was least likely to break out, British forces in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean were pared back to the minimum and it was lowest priority on the supply chain for just about everything. Thus, Mussolini's declaration of war n Britain meant approximately forty thousand British personnel were now threatened by up to four hundred thousand Italians. The series of battles that ensued - a Curb Stomp Battle against the Italians - saw British troops facing a largely beaten Italian army but unable to get much further largely because of the fearsome logistics of sustaining an army, with all it needed, in a desert. Even something as basic as water was fiercely rationed: at the height of the fighting, a British soldier in the desert was issued no more than three pints of water per day for all needs. Later on, when Rommel took over leadership on the Italian/German side, the Axis armies were similarly plagued with supply difficulties. The North African War was as much one of logistics as of combat and was only really resolved whn Lend-Lease provided suficient ewquipment for the British to gain overwhelming superiority, including in supply and replenishment systems, allowing the breakout from El Alamein and the landing of new British and American armies in Tunisia to overwhelm a struggling, under-resourced, Axis army, that by now was being cut off from its sources of supply in Italy.

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