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Thread: Sauron's military blunder

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Ok folks time for some evil doings. We all know that Sauron failed in the War of the Ring but what would you have done in his place? Your mission if you choose to accept. Come up with a military strategy that will win you the War of the Ring and dominate all of Middle Earth. You are bound to the time of the war. Meaning, you are Sauron and don't know where the One Ring is. You only have what he has during the war; army, land, minions of Sauron. And last, you are bound to realism. No marching an army of 100,000 orcs from Mordor to Rohan in 3 days, (there is resources to be accounted for)although you can move your army whenever.

 

Here is a start. I would use the army in Dol Guldur to attack Rohan and not Loreien at all. Rohan will be attack from the west by Isengard, and the east by Dol Guldur.

I would put my forces at cirith ungle, and my nazgul at the black gates, then have saramon attack minas tirith and i send 10,000 cave trolls to rohan.

Pleas forgive misspellings and capitalization

Oh, I forgot, put bring in the forces of minas morgal and pertect mt. doom

i'm probably not the right person to ask, being a hobbit and all, hehehe. But if i would be Sauron, trapped in Mordor and depending on others to a) find my ring and b) fight a war for me, i would not have sent the Nazgûl for the ring but sent them to war because as i see it they were really a force to be reckoned with in battle and thus i would probably make more use of their power.

 

And i might have ordered Saruman to not go West and concentrate on the Shire but to come and help me in Gondor.

 

Other than that i really have no idea what i would have done differently. Actually - omg, am i saying this ?!? - Sauron did a marvelous job there. He basically kept everyone in Arda on their toes til the end.

Ah interesting question. But where to start...

Well one of a few things I'd do is coordinate my attack with Saruman more. They needed to strike at the exact same time, roughly the time Saruman DID attack, and occupy both the Rohirrim and the forces of Gondor in different parts of the world all at once. This would have kept Aragorn busy at Helms Deep, preventing him from seeking the men of Dunharrow (and even if he did, he could only help one city). This would also have kept Gandalf busy, and Helms Deep might not have gone the way it did if Gondor was under attack at the same time. Maybe even have the men of Umbar help Saruman instead, Sauron having the Haradrim and nazgul.

I also would have never left the gate to Mount Doom unguarded. I'd probably even have it guarded by one of the nazgul, even if that means having him sit on a wooden stool outside the door, but in any case always have someone watching over it. Another thing is I'd be less conspicuous looking for the ring. I wouldn't have sent my scariest most intimidating black riders to the Shire, a land of little people. I'd have found some charming, deceitful character that nobody would expect, perhaps a clever man of Umbar.

But ultimately more teamwork with Saruman would've made the difference. They had the perfect strategy but a completely misplaced execution. Also maybe even build up my forces even more. Look at Gondolin. A near unassailable fortress......unless you simply have uncountable numbers to storm it. Saruman should've had more when attacking Helms Deep. Sauron has pretty good numbers at Pelennor, so the key would be to keep Aragorn out of the picture.

I would destroy Mt Doom as its the only place the ring could be destroyed.

Two things to remember here - Sauron didn't know about the Fellowship, and furthermore could never have imagined that the Ring would be destroyed rather than used against him by the Free Peoples.

If Sauron took the Ring, the war would be over fairly soon afterward - that much is clear. So, instead of sending nine riders north who would be of far greater value leading his armies, I would have instead told Saruman to march his armies north, to ravage the Shire and find the Ring. No army in Eriador could counter ten thousand Uruk-hai and wildmen (though Rivendell could probably hold out against them). The Ring would then have most likely been found.

If the Company of the Ring had been formed and they had gotten out of Eriador (and therefore Saruman's armies were in Eriador and none able to ambush them) they wouldn't have been broken at Amon Hen. This is pure speculation, but I imagine that Aragorn would have pressed them on to the Morgul Vale, rather than listening to Boromir's insistence that they go to Minas Tirith. By this point, Sauron's armies would be besieging the city, so it probably wouldn't be the best idea anyway.

This is where it gets interesting.

Gandalf would have returned, yes, but where? My guess is that he would have returned to the Company in Ithilien (as they were the only real hope of defeating Sauron), and they then with him would have gone through Shelob's lair (Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli and Boromir probably making short work of the beast if they encountered her).

However, they would have great difficulty in getting across Gorgoroth to Mount Doom, as Sauron did not put forth all his forces to attack Minas Tirith (which probably would have fallen by this point without Gandalf rallying the defences, and indeed without Merry to provide the crucial blow to the Witch-king). The Fellowship would have had little choice however, so they would have pressed on.

I find it fairly unlikely that they could have got to Mount Doom from Cirith Ungol without being spotted, and probably would have been overwhelmed by orcs. However, beyond that point, there is nothing more Sauron could have done. Again, it never entered Sauron's wildest dreams that the Ring wouldn't be used against him in some way, and so guards placed on a place none of his enemies would ever have any want or need to go would have seemed foolish to him.

Eh I'd have to disagree. If I were Sauron. I know, for a fact, that if I created the most powerful artifact the world has known, one that could only be destroyed where it was created, which also happened to be the heart of my kingdom, and then that artifact went missing....I wouldn't even consider it before doing. Maybe in times of need I'd send the nazgul into battle, but I would undoubtedly have some sort of guard post outside. Like the DMZ in Korea. Even though there's almost no chance of an actual fight breaking out there, they still have extremely strict guard protocols and "just in case" plans. Sure if I HAD the ring it'd be different. But I don't think Sauron needed to be aware of the Fellowship to be aware there's a chance his ring could be destroyed. Regardless, even though he may not have known of the fellowship specifically, not long after the journey began he knew a hobbit had the ring, he knew he couldn't find said hobbit, and then on top of that he discovered the ring was on the move away from The Shire (incident in Bree for one). And I promise this isn't a "hindsight/well because I know" scenario. I would have set up AT LEAST one door guard. IF ANYTHING, put some insanely thick/heavy/spiked door that can only be opened by 10 cave trolls. What's the saying? It only takes a grain of sand to shatter cracked glass? Something like that.

One of the greatest pieces of advice Sun Tzu gives us is to not underestimate but overestimate your enemy. So considering I might not have considered hobbits, I undoubtedly would have considered dwarves, and I definitely would have considered elves, thus I don't think there's any doubt in my mind I'd have set up a guard of some sort. If you have innumerable amounts of orcs, I think setting one or two aside on guard duty for arguably the most important place in ME at the time just seems...obvious.

But again I do agree that better use of Saruman would've been the key to Sauron's victory. However I think sending Saruman to ravage The Shire off the bat would be another mistake. Suddenly Saruman's forces are occupied on the opposite side of the world in unfamiliar territory not really suited for foot soldiers. Thus, THERE IS A CHANCE, that a powerful enough militia, consisting of hobbits, dwarves, elves, and men, could fight back with guerilla tactics, also using geography such as the Old Forest to their advantage. Scouts would see the army on the move, the dust cloud alone  could be seen for miles, and perhaps the Rohirrim could be called upon and they'd arrive at the last second to save the day. There are so many other places he could've gone with Saruman, but instead Saruman got arrogant and risked the pre-emptive attack on a legendary citadel. Classic military blunder.

I think my main advantage over Sauron is I've read both Machiavelli's and Sun Tzu's Art of War. So admittedly Sauron was a military genius because he came up with all these formations on his own, BUT, technically the thread asks what if we were Sauron, not retell Sauron's story, so..... sad

I think to understand Sauron's failure to comprehend what was going on you have to look at everything that was going on in context. First, I think Tolkien makes it clear in a number of places that it would never occur to Sauron that the West might try to destroy the Ring (can't find any exact quotes, but the general idea is that a being like Sauron could not have imagined that such a powerful weapon would not be used).

 
Next, Sauron and his underlings hadn't a clue what really happened in the Tower of Cirith Ungol as shown by the conversation between two orcs overheard by Frodo and Sam. Also, Shagrat does not reach Barad-dur with his report and artifacts until March 17. By this time Sauron has seen Pippin and Aragorn in the palantir, knows of the destruction of Isengard, and has seen his armies defeated in front of Minas Tirith with the loss of the Witch-king. Might he not think that all these things are evidence of someone starting to learn to wield the power of the Ring? Who else could destroy Isengard, defeat a wizard like Saruman and a being like the Witch-king? On March 18, the Host of the West marched forth from Minas Tirith towards Mordor. I think it is quite reasonable for Sauron to assume that the Ring was with either Aragorn or Gandalf at Minas Tirith and was the cause of his defeats there.
 
Also, as I think Imrahil says, they were attacking Mordor with an army that would have barely constituted the vanguard of Gondor's army in its heyday and could not possibly hope to defeat Sauron's armies - unless they were using the Ring. Whatever was going on at Cirith Ungol, in Sauron's mind, was probably merely an attempt to distract him or a feint to get him to draw his armies away from the Black Gate, where he imagined an assault would be made upon Mordor as had happened at the end of the Second Age. It was ten days from the time Frodo and Sam leave Cirith Ungol to the time they reach Orodruin. In that time, they were undetected by the forces of Mordor. Once again, I think it not unreasonable for Sauron to have thought that whatever was going on back at Cirith Ungol, the infiltrators had left Mordor. Sauron could not possibly imagine that a "great elf warrior" could sneak past the innumerable orc camps in Gorgoroth and reach the heart of his realm undetected - but this is needless speculation because he would never have even considered the possibility, and that was his downfall.

Fornad I agree with you completely why he failed. You're preaching to the choir here. He didn't see it coming. And yes, as we both said that was his downfall. And see now we're debating what we agree on: why Sauron fell. I don't think there's any dispute as Tolkien clarified this many times. The question is how could he have prevented it. One obvious way I think is keeping the entrance guarded. Obviously he didn't do it because he didn't think he needed to. So because of his arrogance I feel like he overlooked obvious potential missteps. For one I think he would have realized everything you say far before the fellowship even entered Moria. Simply because his riders knew the Ring was at Bree for sure, after already being pretty sure it was in the Shire with a hobbit. Besides obviously Saruman knew roughly where they were because he sent out his raid party. And if Saruman knew, I'll bet Sauron could've figured it out too, assuming Saruman didn't tell him.

So, if I were Sauron and a great military strategist, I would keep my only weakness guarded at all times. I don't really care if I thought someone could breach it or not. For instance I have a safe buried in my closet with random valuables in it....I know nobody is going to be able to dig through my boxes and find it without me knowing, but that doesn't mean I'm just going to leave it unlocked. His arrogance was his downfall, and that's like....rule # 1 in any military strategy: don't get cocky. He did, and look what happened.

And I never said a great elf warrior. It could have been a short man in leather, a dwarf rogue, a slim elf spy, and other carriers who I think could have successfully snuck through the same areas Frodo did, maybe even a bit more successfully.  My point being I wouldn't have thought "a hobbit is too insignificant to worry about" but "I don't have it so there's a chance anything could happen." If you don't like the physical guard idea, then I think it makes just as much sense without being overly paranoid to have some sort of gate. Look at the Black Gate....forget the trolls/orcs on top, nobody is getting through that gate without some serious effort amongst a large group of individuals.

And again I think he was too obvious in his search for the ring. He should have played opossum until the day his armies left, which should also have been the same day Saruman attacked. Yeah I'm sure Gandalf and Elrond and Galdriel and all of them would have known something was brewing, but they wouldn't know it was Sauron himself looking for the ring until it was too little, too late.

Well I thout about it more and got a different plan.  Isengard and minas morgal attack minas tirith at the same time as my 10 cave trolls and 10,000 mountain trolls attack rohan.  Then I would put my nazgul (besides the captain) at the gate and 3/4 of my army at mt.doom and the other 4th at cirith ungle.

Billin,

You are forgetting the rules. I don't think there was 10,000 trolls in ME.

The reason why Sauron lost was because he didn't follow the rules of the Art of War.

If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. - Sun Tzu

But back with the topic. I agreed with some of the stuff said. I would've have some kind of security an Mt. Doom. I wouldn't have attack Minith Tirith so soon. As I said in the opening post, the army of Dol Guldur would attack Rohan. This however is more of a diversion. If it was successful fine, but it's main goal is to draw Gondor's army to aid Rohan. Once their army marched to the aid of Rohan, then I'll attack Gondor while its army is weaker. Also I would use the Corsairs to attack Dol Amroth instead. This is to either stop reinforcements going to the aid of Minith Tirith or to draw  Gondor's army to that city, decreasing Minith Tirith's defense force.

The question is how could he have prevented it. One obvious way I think is keeping the entrance guarded. Obviously he didn't do it because he didn't think he needed to. So because of his arrogance I feel like he overlooked obvious potential missteps.

He didn't keep the entrance guarded because of his lack of knowledge about the Fellowship's purpose, so he had no reason to - Sauron humbled himself before the King of Numenor for his own purposes, so arrogance was not one of his most established traits and not a reason for Mount Doom not being guarded. From his perspective, it looked as if the Fellowship were trying to take the Ring to Gondor to use it in the war.

I would keep my only weakness guarded at all times. I don't really care if I thought someone could breach it or not.

The point is Sauron didn't even see it as a weakness, as he never once even imagined the possibility that they would attempt to destroy the Ring. If he did, then a Maia as powerful and as cunning as he would of course have surrounded Mount Doom with walls, orcs, trolls, and a triple set of gates bound shut by steel and his own dark magic.

And I never said a great elf warrior. It could have been a short man in leather, a dwarf rogue, a slim elf spy, and other carriers who I think could have successfully snuck through the same areas Frodo did, maybe even a bit more successfully.

I know you didn't, that just what the orcs thought Sam must have been after his escapade in Cirith Ungol and therefore what Sauron thought had caused the trouble there. Sorry about being a bit unclear there Smile Smilie

My point being I wouldn't have thought "a hobbit is too insignificant to worry about" but "I don't have it so there's a chance anything could happen."

Sauron's train of thought, though, would have been more like "I don't have it and I know they do, and they're going to try to use it to win the war." As we are imagining what we would have done in Sauron's place with Sauron's knowledge and experience, that is a very logical conclusion to come to. For someone who knows the story already, it may seem painfully obvious that this is the wrong conclusion, but from Sauron's point of view it makes sense.

An interesting idea...

It is easy to say with hindsight, having seen what went wrong for Sauron, what you would do to counter ways in which his plan failed - namely, place a guard on Mount Doom. Without the benefit of that hindsight, however, you must view the world through Sauron's eyes. He did not conceive his enemies would try to destroy the ring once they had it. Who in their right mind would destroy the greatest weapon they had in their arsenal? The ring even had part of his own spirit in there that would fight such destruction should anyone attempt it. Even should he have considered that option, we are assuming Mount Doom was the only place it could be destroyed. I cannot remember whether it was Gandalf or some other on the White Council who said it could only be destroyed in the fire that created it. How did they know that? It is a fair assumption that the ring could be destroyed in Mount Doom, but why not any other volcano. Maybe Sauron knew more than the others about this, and knew of other ways in which the ring could be un-made/destroyed. If so, he would need to guard more than just Mount Doom. And if Mount Doom was the only place it could be destroyed, surely it would need to be defended from the air because who in their right mind would walk all the way across Mordor when they had Eagles as allies?

So, like Sauron, I would probably either assume the ring was not going to be destroyed, or maybe wary of several places that it could be unmade if that was the intention of the enemy.

The West is in decline. The North has already fallen to the Witch king's armies years before. The elves are leaving Middle Earth. Your own armies of orcs are growing. In theory you wait for the West to decline so much that your armies can just roll over them. You could use subterfuge and lies to corrupt the Gondorian leaders as you had done centuries before with their kin the Numenorians. The only threat out there is your own ring. In the hands of a Baggins - a mere halfling - that is no great threat. At worse the ring remains hidden for several centuries and creates another Gollum. The danger is though, there are people in the West who could probably dominate the ring sufficiently to use its powers against you. The Istari, Galadrial, Elrond, Denethor, Boromir, Tharanduril, a Balrog, a Black Numenorian,??? Okay, they would become corrupted and evil in doing so, but that doesn't do you any good if they kill you in the process. Eventually, someone is going to find the ring and be able to use it. To prevent that you must stop them by finding it first. My first move then would be to send out my Nazgul to find the ring. They are the only ones who can actually sense its presence, and the only ones who I can fully trust not to take it for their own once they find it. Sauron made the right move here.

Okay, I study my enemies. The West is in decline but Gondor and Rohan still have significant armies. The Elves are slowly departing Middle Earth, but still have powerful warriors and wizards available. Annoyingly, their leaders seem to have the ability to remain hidden. That is possibly down to the rings that Celebrimbor crafted. What other powers do they give their wielders? You do not know. All the more reason to find your own ring so you can imprison the wielders of the Elven rings.

There are then the Istari. Your spies inform you there are five of them. Five powerful wizards, each capable of wielding your ring and defeating you. Five against one. Not good odds unless you can divide and conquer them. Frustratingly, like the elves, for the most part they tend to remain hidden. Gandalf seems to have disappeared off the face the earth. Radaghast is up to no good spying on your forces at Dol Guldur. Alatar and Pallando have disappeared into the East or the South. Saruman has taken residence in Orthanc, however, and certainly has delusions of grandeur. He is foolishly using one of the Palantir stones to spy on you. You contest his will and "master" him. You learn he is looking for the ring, and from what your own spies have discovered, is looking in roughly the right place. If Saruman find the ring, he will probably be able to master you. He is the chief threat and must be destroyed. You use subterfuge and lies to achieve his downfall. You let him believe you are working together and will share the power once you are victorious. You must use him to cripple himself against your other enemies, so when the time comes you can defeat him too. The other Istari must be dealt with in a similar fashion if they reveal themselves. Maybe you can even get them fighting among themselves?

Okay, the enemy armies. You painfully remember an alliance of Elves and Numenorians who defeated you last time. You suspect both are now weaker than then, but you cannot be sure. Every spy you send into Lorien and northern Mirkwood disappears. You know there is an elven stronghold at the Grey Havens that used to be the home of Gil Galad. You suspect that Cirdan rules there. You do not fear Cirdan too much. He has tended to remain hidden through history, sheltering women and children. He is evasive though. If you get near him he will slip out to sea where Ulmo will protect him. The sea is a bad place. If things go to plan, maybe once it is all over you can get your Black Numenorian allies at Umbar to trap him in his port while your orcs attack the Havens from land. Elrond is a problem. You cannot find him. The remainder of the Elder in Middle Earth are probably with him. You do not know how many? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands?

Then there are the Dwarves. Although they tend to remain hidden underground, you cannot be certain they will not send an army to help your enemies. You remember how they resisted Glaurung and more recently they helped defeat Smaug. That was a blow... you hoped to use Smaug. You must lay siege to their cities with an army large enough to defeat them if they decide to come out and fight. Your spies inform you they have cities in the Iron Hills, the Lonely Mountain and the Blue Mountains. You must lay siege to both the Iron Hills and the Lonely Mountain. This army must also defeat Dale and Lake Town. Your Easterling allies would be best placed to do this. You cannot send everyone though with those Istari meddling behind the scenes. There is Dorwinion too. They have been trading with the elves and will probably fight against you. If only you had more time in which to use your subterfuge against them. Time is running out though. The ring could be found any day and your massive orcish armies need feeding. Unless you cull some of them soon in battle they will run out of food and fight each other. You curse Melkor for creating such weak willed fools.

So, an army of Easterlings to lay siege to the Dwarves, Dorwinion, Dale and Lake Town. You must stop the Elves from Lorien and Mirkwood joining the alliance. That will take all you have in Dol Guldur. Unless you want an Elven army attacking your back, you will need to split this force and attack both Lorien and Mirkwood. Mirkwood is particularly important, unless you want them attacking the flanks of your army laying siege to the Dwarves. You will also make use of your orcs in the northern Misty Mountains to deal with Mirkwood. Fangorn too, seems a threat. Your spies never return from there, either. Could that be Elrond's Hide out?

Gondor is your biggest threat. Their forefathers defeated you before. Minas Tirith will take a huge army to defeat, particularly if reinforced from Southern Gondor. Your Corsair allies can defeat individual citeis, but probably not the whole of Southern Gondor. The threat of an attack might keep the Gondorians holed up in their cities, however, while your army from the South and from Minas Morgal lays siege to Minas Tirith. With more time you could maybe convince Denethor to open the gates, but so far he has proved remarkably resilient to your persuasion. Further, his son Boromir was seen heading north towards the ring. If he is as resilient as his father, and his victory at Osgiliath shows he could be, he might master the ring if he gets it. He might not only then unite Gondor and Rohan, but your Corsair allies might also decide to change sides. You must move soon. You cannot afford to have 10,000 Rohirrim cavalry charge into your flanks while you lay siege to Minas Tirith. You must defeat them before your army crosses the Anduin. You instruct Saruman to attack the Rohirrim with his orcs and Hillmen allies. It doesn't matter if he wins or not, provided both forces are sufficiently weakened to no longer pose a threat. If Saruman is victorious, you will have him attack Elrond, or whoever is lurking in Fangorn.

Well the pieces are almost in place. To make sure, however, you send two of your nazgul to Dunharrow. The old ghost king failed to side with the Gondorians before, maybe he will side with you now? If so, you will have his army sack the Southern Gondorian cities, leaving the Corsairs to help your main army at Minas Tirith.

I can tell you guys don't have a zombie survival plan. Ok calling someone's "what if" strategy out because it's not what the written character did is pointless. It's also extremely difficult to say ANYTHING here without it seeming obvious since we know the story. Sorry guys, like I said, even without hindsight I stand firm in my belief that if I were in Sauron's position, the second I finished making those rings I would've set up a sentry or built a door into Mt. Doom, or both. After my return in the 3rd age, I'd replace them. ESPECIALLY after I'd already been defeated once. It just seems obvious to me. I'm one of those people who thinks about everything though. Literally. I have witnesses who will vouch for this!

So you can keep writing paragraphs about why Sauron didn't have it guarded, but if I've already explained I know why he didn't, I'm not sure what you're trying to tell me. Are you saying putting a guard up is a bad idea? Or pointless? Isn't that thread topic "If I were in his place, what would I have done different?" Put up a guard. The point of the thread is basically to point out where he went wrong and what he should have done, and NOT what he already did. If you don't see this as a mistake, then I look forward to destroying your ring of power! You'll certainly never make it to my fires...

"He didn't keep the entrance guarded because of his lack of knowledge about the Fellowship's purpose, so he had no reason to - Sauron humbled himself before the King of Numenor for his own purposes, so arrogance was not one of his most established traits and not a reason for Mount Doom not being guarded. From his perspective, it looked as if the Fellowship were trying to take the Ring to Gondor to use it in the war."

Fornad if you don't realize arrogance as one of the primary traits of Sauron you're looking in the wrong place. Forget the Fellowship for a second, I would've guarded it out of principle. Even if I already ruled the world. The only excuse I would give him is if he himself didn't know it was the only place the ring could be destroyed, which seems unlikely. He "humbled" himself by blatantly lying to the greatest of men because he knew he could get away with it and that in the end he would win and they would end up in the sea. It wasn't out of fear or respect, it was out of spite, as he worked out their demise in the shadows. That is the epitome of arrogance. The guy was a Class A narcissist. Maybe it wasn't the only reason, but it was 100% without a question a reason of not having it guarded.

"The point is Sauron didn't even see it as a weakness, as he never once even imagined the possibility that they would attempt to destroy the Ring. If he did, then a Maia as powerful and as cunning as he would of course have surrounded Mount Doom with walls, orcs, trolls, and a triple set of gates bound shut by steel and his own dark magic."

If it's the only place the ring can be destroyed, I just don't understand how Sauron wouldn't see it as a weakness. I REALIZE WHY HE DIDN'T IN THE BOOK. I just don't understand it. You guys keep saying Sauron didn't guard it because he thought others would try and use the ring against him, implying he plans on being attacked at some point. Is this not MORE reason to place at least one guard outside? Even if he plans on striking first....he knows they're out to get them. If he knows HE doesn't have the ring, his enemies might have it, they defeated him before, and there's only one place it can be destroyed......uhhhh, hello! Perhaps Sauron isn't as cunning as we all thought.

So it doesn't matter if his train of thought was either "nobody would use it" or "nobody could use it against me," both hold a strong degree of arrogance and neither seem reason enough not to put 1 guard up. Or build a wall. I give Sauron more credit than you in that I don't think he was blind enough to think the enemy would try and use the ring against him and be clueless about the repercussions. The story is proof. 90% of the inhabitants realized it was evil and most of them didn't want it (willingly). Only a small number wanted to try and use it without fear of corruption. So if a great and powerful military general decided to focus on the 1% chance of 10% of the population, then it's no wonder he lost.

Moving on, Vale this is mostly for you. I like most of your ideas but I see a few flaws. Firstly, "If Saruman find the ring, he will probably be able to master you. He is the chief threat and must be destroyed." Are you implying Sauron believed Saruman would have a strong enough will to control it or that Sauron was unaware the ring corrupted people? If the palantir corrupted Saruman why wouldn't the ring? If he feared Saruman could get the ring and use it, then isn't that even MORE reason to set up guard outside Mt. Doom? After meeting Gollum it should seem obvious enough that even though the ring corrupts, it's not necessarily enough to mean they'll just bring it back if they did try to use it. So let him assume his enemies would use it against him, if he felt someone out there could EFFECTIVELY use the ring against him...why wouldn't he take every precaution? Interesting point about it being destroyed though. I actually believe it was Elrond who said it must be destroyed at Mt. Doom first, wasn't it? Gandalf said it to Frodo in Chapter 1 or 2 or LOTR yes but chronologically Elrond knew this before Gandalf even arrived in ME. So, I trust Elrond enough to not say something so presumptuous. Because, lol, this is a big deal. It's no easy feat breaking into Mordor. And he doesn't seem the type to just "assume" that's where it HAD to be destroyed without good reason. But I don't believe we have any specific record of why. Maybe if Galin reads this he knows of a relevant text??

Ok next, so obviously the men of Dunharrow are what saved the day. With the men of Umbar not even having arrived yet, I believe Sauron had sufficient forces to carry out all these plans of attack (I dunno about 10,000 mountain trolls though Glorfindel, sorry!) without spreading his forces too thin. He probably didn't even need Saruman. So really, assuming he knew about the oath which I don't think he did, all Sauron had to do was beat the clock and PUT UP GUARDS around Dunharrow before Aragorn arrived. If he could manage to defeat Aragorn before, then pretty much every plan of the West would fail. Also I HIGHLY doubt they would join his cause too. The oath was nobody could command them but the King of Gondor. True they worshipped Sauron in the past, but if they didn't help him when victory was almost certain, why would they now? Though if they did, that means they wouldn't be bound by an oath to stop, so win them over and you automatically win the world. There's still some good left in them though. So instead of recruiting them, he just needed to make sure no heir of Isildur reached them. Whether or not he knew of Aragorns bloodline at this point is unclear, so he would just be on the lookout for....anyone really. However if he could prevent that meeting....game over man, game over.

I also don't think you take geography into account enough. 90% of the Dark Armies are foot soldiers. Armor, spears, broad swords, air assault and siege machines. The only ones trained in the ways of the wild are going to be the Wildmen. Orcs, Easterlings, and Umbar are all standing armies. So I don't think it's as easy as sending large numbers into the forests. In fact many, many, many armies throughout history have been destroyed like this. Plenty of proof for this is the American revolution. They were outnumbered something like 6 to 1, English advantage. However because of guerilla warfare, they ultimately won out. I'd say elves are more skilled as both foot soldiers AND forest dwellers than any of the others. So you can send 10,000 Umbar into Mirkwood against 500 elves, and the fight would still be pretty even. So what you'd have to do is destroy it from the outside-in. Biological warfare is a good way to start. Just like the Mongols, you could launch decaying bodies or rotten foods into the forests to contaminate it. As those take effect just slowly chip away at the trees. Fire is of course another option. But it would definitely take careful planning. But in this way you could use an army of 2,000 and designate the rest elsewhere, probably to fight the dwarves who arguably could be your biggest challenge. However your forces would be spread pretty thin eventually. Even if you win most battles, by the time you defeat Gondor you'll have taken heavy loss. So it's important to either use geography to your advantage or their disadvantage.

Ok this is long enough. Lets hear some thoughts on this and we'll go from there 

Quote:
Firstly, "If Saruman find the ring, he will probably be able to master you. He is the chief threat and must be destroyed." Are you implying Sauron believed Saruman would have a strong enough will to control it or that Sauron was unaware the ring corrupted people? If the palantir corrupted Saruman why wouldn't the ring? If he feared Saruman could get the ring and use it, then isn't that even MORE reason to set up guard outside Mt. Doom?

My post was a bit rambling, but what I was trying to say was...

1. Sauron was corrupting Saruman through the palantir in a battle of wills. He was winning that battle.

2. If Saruman got the ring, he would be powerful enough to use it, although it would eventually corrupt him to its own will.

3. In the meantime, the additional power that the ring bestowed upon Saruman would probably be sufficient to enable Saruman to win that battle of wills. Instead of Sauron trapping and beguiling Saruman, Saruman could probably have done that to Sauron.

I realise this argument is somewhat subjective and relies upon Saruman having sufficient power to use the ring. It may be that even in the short term, the ring would refuse to work for Saruman against its true owner in that battle of wills - in effect Saruman may have found himself pitting his will against both Sauron and the ring.

 

With regard to the notion that the ring could only be destroyed in Mount Doom, I still stick to my original argument. I also have a lot of respect for the knowledge and wisdom of Elrond, but what does he actually know of the ring? He did lead the survivors of the Gwaith-i-Mirdain to Rivendell after the fall of Eregion, and would have learned a lot about the rings from them. The elven rings, however, were built in normal forges. Even Celebrimbor was unaware of the One Ring until Sauron put it on. I am sure Sauron did not provide anyone with details of how it was made or how it could be destroyed. Elrond's prediction that it could only be destroyed in the fire that created it is pure speculation. He does not know that sure. The only person who can possibly know that is Sauron. In my opinion, what Elrond should have said was the only place they know it can be destroyed is Mount Doom where it was created. At the end of the day what is so special about Mount Doom that other volcanoes do not have? Agreed, a big gate and a guard on the entrance would have been sensible, but Sauron could probably think of a dozen ways or places in which the ring could be destroyed.

First, Sauron should have put 50-100 orc guard in front of sammath naur because he didn't know where the ring was, If he had done so, Frodo would have been killed or just wouldn't come near Orodruin and died shortly after.

In a letter Tolkien also noted that Sauron believed that no one could intentionally harm the One, and that even he [Sorehead himself] could not bring himself to harm it.

That doesn't fit all that well with Gandalf's statement in the books that Sauron at first believed the One had been destroyed. Maybe Gandalf is wrong and Tolkien is right, or Sauron came to believe that no one could intentionally harm the One. Anyway...

'... There was another weakness: if the One ring was actually unmade, annihilated, then its power would be dissolved... But that he never contemplated or feared. The Ring was unbreakable by any smithcraft less than his own. It was indissoluble in any fire, save the undying subterranean fire where it was made - and that was unapproachable in Mordor. [I break the text here for emphasis]

Also so great was the Ring's power of lust, that anyone who used it became mastered by it; it was beyond the strength of any will (even his own) to injure it, cast it away, or neglect it. So he thought. (...)'

JRRT, Letters

If Tolkien is correct, one could at least add this to the reasons for Sauron not guarding Mount Doom better. The case of Isildur seems to support this, anyway.

Balrogs, I said 10,000 trolls was unrealistic. The problem with having an army at dunharow is that you have contend with Rohan's army before reaching your destination.

How is 10,000 trolls unrealistic? Mordor is a huge mass of space that he could have easily bread 100,000 trolls, so 10,000 trolls is actually very realistic.

Mordor doesn't have the resources to feed an army of 10,000 trolls let alone on the march. Therefore it's unrealistic.
For one thing, I'd put five nazgulmstab in the air, four at the Black gate, and the wichking of angmar beside me. Then I'd have 100 orcs in about a billion rows. O, don't forget about having minions all over random areas. Wargs are good attack babies XD
That's one too many nazgul. And 1 billion is unrealistic.

"Mordor doesn't have the resources to feed an army of 10,000 trolls let alone on the march. Therefore it's unrealistic."  If Mordor has resorses to feed over 100,00 orcs and other thing, I think it has so much to feed 10,000 trolls.

If Mordor has resorses to feed over 100,00 orcs and other thing, I think it has so much to feed 10,000 trolls.

It takes more resources to feed trolls than orcs. And since you mentioned 100,000 orcs, Mordor will have to feed and maintain 110,000 soldiers, 10,000 being trolls. That's a lot of resources. This is probably why Sauron (in the book) didn't have 10,000 trolls at the Battle of Pelennor.

Srry. Strike one Nazgul!

Oh, maybe they could just eat their own limbs. IDk

His biggest failure wasn't arrogance,it was fear.  He feared that Aragorn (who revealed himself to Sauron via Isengard's Palantir), who he knew had the power, would claim and wield the ring.   So when Aragorn came to his gates with a relatively small army the only logical explanation (to Sauron) was that Aragorn was using the ring. Even with the ring Sauron saw how weak the army was and saw hope in squashing it before Aragorn got a decent mastery of the ring. 

And that was the beginning of his downfall.  Had he left them outside the gate and waited, Frodo would never have managed to cross the plains without being noticed.  Furthermore Aragorns army would need provisions and providing for an army is no small task, the soldiers would have starved and weakened, any illnesses would have spread through the camp and Aragorns strength would have diminished.   This would be the time to attack, as even with the ring, the smaller, weakened army would never prevail against Saurons much larger and better provisioned army.

Sauron lost because he took the battle to Aragorn, on Aragorns terms outside of his virtually impenetrable fortress.  Sauron was defeated when he had the ring so it is no guarantee of victory, he should have known that better than anybody.  

So to summarise, if Sauron had let Aragorn sit at his gates starving, Frodo would have been captured by orcs or Gollum, or starved and died, Aragorns army would be weakened and easy to defeat, and all hope for the survival of ME would have been lost.

His biggest failure wasn't arrogance,it was fear.  He feared that Aragorn (who revealed himself to Sauron via Isengard's Palantir), who he knew had the power, would claim and wield the ring.   So when Aragorn came to his gates with a relatively small army the only logical explanation (to Sauron) was that Aragorn was using the ring. Even with the ring Sauron saw how weak the army was and saw hope in squashing it before Aragorn got a decent mastery of the ring.

Exactly - Sauron was focused on Aragorn. He feared that Aragon, Isildur's heir will be able to repossess the throne of Gondor. I think this fear, along with his hate for Men (especially Dunedain, especially from the royal kin) clouded his mind and he decide to strike against them first.  I just came upon a nice quote on that - this is from The Unfinished Tales and it describes Gandalf's point of view and his strategy against Sauron.

Unfinished Tales, Notes of the text "The Quest of Erebor"

Then everything grew dark. And yet that was not his original plan; and it was in the end a mistake. Resistance still had somewhere where it could take counsel free from the Shadow. How could the Ringbearer have escaped, if there had been no Lórien or Rivendell? And those places might have fallen, I think, if Sauron had thrown all his power against them first, and not spent more than half of it in the assault on Gondor.

I think also Sauron thought that Men are too proud to pass over the chance of attacking , especially knowing that he is desperately searching for the Ring. I think he counted on their pride a lot.

I think also Sauron thought that Men are too proud to pass over the chance of attacking , especially knowing that he is desperately searching for the Ring. I think he counted on their pride a lot.

I personally believe that it was more to do with the curse/gift of mortality in Man.   Sauron had previously used this to his advantage, and I think Sauron would have thought that the chance of immortality (from the preservative powers of the ring) would draw Aragorn to claiming it as his own. (JRRT mentioned this weakness in a letter to Milton Waldman)

(I had more typed, but accidentally deleted it. wink)

Hm, personally there's not a doubt in my mind that one of Sauron's biggest mistakes was, indeed, arrogance. I agree fear played a role as well, in fact the two probably played off each other. For instance I still think it ridiculous to not have some sort of sentry to watch the only entrance into Mt. Doom while the ring is missing. If this is not considered arrogance, then it is stupidity, something I definitely do not think Sauron is. He certainly wouldn't leave it unguarded out of fear.

I'm not so sure Sauron was that focused on Aragorn tbh. At least not for awhile. Most of his plans had already been made even before Aragorn revealed himself...heck, probably even before Aragorn became Aragorn. On top of this, if the Nine could sense when the ring was near, then I don't see why Sauron wouldn't have the same capability, at least within an up close vicinity to Mordor, considering he was basically a powerful force of energy inside Mordor who used the palantir to watch his enemies. Not to mention Aragorn walked right up to the gate and spoke to an emissary before Sauron even released his forces, offering an opportunity to focus and try and sense the ring. And lastly Sauron probably still believed it was in the possession of a hobbit! So when Aragorn approached, I find it unlikely he assumed he had the ring, but rather, as Indis pointed out, was counting on their pride and/or stupidity. Perhaps he thought this was the last of men, rallying what they had in hopes of defeating Mordor.

Again in Sauron's defense, his plans probably would have worked if it weren't for an immortal army being summoned from the dead to fight against him...something he probably didn't expect. Whether he forgot about them, didn't know that was even possible, didn't think it would happen, or thought it wouldn't be a big deal I can't say. I could be mistaken but I vaguely remember reading somewhere Sauron actually did send someone to Dunarrow but they never returned. Could be wrong about that but it sounds familiar. But even if everything else happened as it did, take away the Army of the Dead and he probably still would've won.

But overall it could be argued his military "blunders" were more coincidence and the good guys being in the right place at the right time.

For instance I still think it ridiculous to not have some sort of sentry to watch the only entrance into Mt. Doom while the ring is missing. If this is not considered arrogance, then it is stupidity, something I definitely do not think Sauron is. He certainly wouldn't leave it unguarded out of fear.

As far as he was aware, every way into Mordor was guarded.  Which even the way Sam and Frodo took was, so I assume there were few ways to get in unnoticed.  He had his entire army camped on the plains in Mordor, and how do you creep past that without being caught?  Frodo and Sam got caught, but managed to pass as orcs.  A man or elf would never have been able to have disguised like that, Sauron presumably didn't expect the Hobbits to be the ones to attack.  

Also, as Gandalf mentions, he [Sauron] couldn't imagine anyone destroying the ring.  Everyone who possesses it becomes enamoured with it.  So defence wouldn't have crossed his mind.  In the end Frodo wouldn't have destroyed the ring had it not been for the rings hold over Smeagol.  So really I would say it was folly and sheer bad luck that led to that particular ending.

Yes, leaving the entry to Mount Doom open was foolish, but mind of Sauron didn't work that way - he didn't expect that anyone who has the One Ring would try to destroy it. And I agree with Gwindor here - it seemed that all the ways to Mount Doom were well guarded (at least from Sauron's perspective). Frodo and Sam got caught by orcs. They fled but it wasn't the strategy that let them go - the orcs, and their truculent nature failed. And of course Frodo and Sam had a lot of luck on their way - all strange things that happened (even Gollum's attacks) led to destruction of the Ring.

I am Sauron,and i have another intention in which i might have succeeded. Here is the plan. I know the rangers of the north are weak and diminished, and my orcs in the misty mountains are readying their armies. Instead of Attacking Rohan with them i would rush through Carn Dum and break and destroy all resistance in Eriador. Some of the southern scattered villages of the Dunedain might escape by flying to Rivendell but the main force has been annihilated. The hobbits, would be next. Some fleeing Rangers might warn them and the numerous Tooks or Brandybucks might join in a league but for the most part, my wrath on the halflings would be only to slay them, not to enslave them. With my legions from Dol Guldur i would then strike Rohan a quick slash, breaking it's communication with Gondor. Saruman would keep building up his forces and with coordination with Dol Guldur we would pinch Rohan. Lorien would also be under a extensive loose siege so that i could keep them from attacking Dol Guldur. Thranduil's realm would still not act because of their isolation from outer events, and even if they did: i would still leave a Nazgul their with a thousand orc garrison. Everything with Aragorn and Gondor would still not work out. For the west would be already destroyed and orcs would be marching through Enedwaith.

I think that up until Sauron moved his 60,000+ orcs to the black gate, he had a very good chance of winning. He had an army that could potentially defeat the armies of all his enemies put together for a very long time, but I think he made a few key mistakes.

The first, he was unable to acknowledge his weaknesses. Actually, that's because he doesn't have any. Even when he surrendered all his armies he still corrupted Numenor from within. Furthermore, he was able to survive the wrath of Eru and resurface, powerful as ever. However, saying he has no weaknesses is false. The Valar could still come back and destroy him, and there is virtually nothing he could do to stop that. Luckily for him, that's extremely unlikely. He could also be imprisoned by the elves, Galadriel or Elrond certainly wouldn't fall for that "I can make you immortal" scam. For this to happen, his entire army would have to be destroyed and his fortress besieged. His fortress is virtually indestructible against common siege equipment, so the only way this is at all possible is if his more powerful foes have the ring. Even in this case, he still gets to watch them slowly corrupt as the ring overcomes them. Or, the ring could be destroyed. Elrond tried to get Isildur to destroy it 3,000 years ago, so clearly there is a conceivable possibility that they might attempt it again. Even if they don't succeed, they may get all the way to mount doom with the ring, in which case some guards to steal it from them would be most helpful. Besides, what's ~100 orcs to a spirit with over 100,000?

His second mistake was to spread himself too thin. I said earlier he could potentially defeat all his enemies put together, but not if they had their fortresses. The more northern kingdoms were not disposed to send armies to Gondor, especially with the threat of Dol Guldor nearby, Erador and the lonely mountain as well as Mirkwood and Lorien would have maybe sent armies to Gondor, but seemed more concerned with their own borders. This was perhaps caused by Sauron sending a large force of evil men to join with the garisson at Dol Guldor and hopefully burn the whole north to the ground, but he didn't send enough to conquer a single kingdom, much less four. However, sending these armies weakened his assault on Gondor which was absolutely critical to his success.

Think about it this way. If Mirkwood, Lorien, Erador or the lonely mountain sent troops to Gondor then Dol Guldor burns them to the ground. They could unite and march on Dol Guldor, in which case they are delayed and by the time they can get to Gondor, it's already gone. Instead, Sauron sent a large force of evil men (a force that could have been very helpful at Pelennor) to a mission that was extremely difficult and, more importantly, somewhat irrelevant.

Pelennor... Sauron should have won. Too much of his force was lumped together, had he broken it up into two smaller units, one with siege equipment capable of outreaching Gondors, and enough soldiers  that even if Gondor sortied with all its men they would still be outnumbered three to one, and the rest of the soldiers hidden as reserves. That way, Gondor on its own would be unable to survive, being burned by the catapults and unable to strike back because it was badly outnumbered. However, if reinforcements did show up, from the northern kingdoms or Rohan perhaps, they would then find themselves surrounded by the reserves. However, Sauron wanted a quick and decisive victory and didn't want to risk a strategy that would endanger his siege equipment and half his army, though what he did endangered his entire army in my opinion. 

Of course, if he just let Aragorn starve outside the gates then Frodo would never make it to mount doom anyway...

...He also seemed to let Saruman fail too easily. Sure he wanted to destroy the armies of both Saruman and Rohan, but Sauron should not have let Saruman attack Helms deep if his goal was to kill people on both sides. Sauron should have just let Saruman burn Rohan's villages to the ground before the muster, when Theoden marched to Helms deep. Perhaps the Huorns would have killed the orcs, but I doubt that would have happened as long as they stayed far from Fangorn.  What I do think would have happened is the Ents defeating Saruman's garrison and destroying Isengard, then Saruman himself being slain by Gandalf. In this case we end up with a rouge army of Uruk-Hai in Rohan and Saruman being out of the picture. Since it's Saruman himself and not his armies that could possibly find the ring, Sauron could use the army to continue killing Rohan's citizens and putting it on the defensive without risking an attack on a major fortress like Helms Deep. In this scenario, Rohan would probability be delayed at least a day or two, and Pelennor would be won.

Or, he could do as has already been suggested and delay Saruman's attack significantly and co-ordinate it with his march on Minas Tirith. This is in my mind an inferior option, since Rohan's army of 12,000+ cavalry could annihilate Saruman's 16,000 foot soldiers very easily. If Saruman delays his attack to co-ordinate it, then Theoden would have time to gather his army at Helms Deep, If that happened, Rohan might not ride to Pelennor, but they could also leave behind 6,000 riders, in my opinion capable of destroying 16,000 foot soldiers, with Theoden and send 6,000 with Aragorn and Gandalf to Pelennor, in which case Saruman's army of 16,000 has been worth only 2,000 of Theoden's cavalry (Theoden left behind 4,000 anyway), and I think he could do better burning villages.

There is a third option. Sauron could have sent a force of ~30,000 of his own soldiers to Isengard earlier, allowing them to actually win at Helms Deep. Where would he get this force? Remeber the large army he sent to its doom on the northern kingdoms? This is where he should have sent them. In that case, Helms Deep is 46,000 evil men and Uruk-Hai, and Gandalf's return with a few foot soldiers would be nothing more than suicide. Sure the Huorns still crush this army, but Theoden would also die and so would Aragorn and possibly Gandalf if he still chose to charge. Of the royal family, only Eowyn would  be left. She could muster and ride as Theoden did, but without Aragorn and his army of the dead, the ships would bring only more pirates, and there goes Minas Tirith.

Saruman could also use the new and suddenly overwhelming force differently. Perhaps he could have sent a much larger force to Helms Deep, somewhere in the vicinity of 30,000, double what he did send.  This would leave 10,000 soldiers for Eowyn and the capitol. Had this happened, Rohan might not even be able to ride to Pelennor. So sure, 10,000 elves show up behind his army at Pelennor, he still crushes them. The north kingdoms rally around Rohan instead of Gondor, but now Sauron has Gondor  and still has a huge army. From there, he has only to leave a large force near Rohan while he burns the North kingdoms with his other forces. Then... he wins....

Great posts there Cur! But on your last one, there is one point i disagree on. Corsairs could not take Southern Gondor. The rates of exchange would be still heavy in favor on the Gondor side. Then don't forget the squadrons of eagles, they could assist either a exodus of the northern elven kingdoms or likewise with the Gondorians from southern Gondor after they learned about the loss of Minas Tirith. Imladris could retreat to Mithlond and the hobbit's, Dunedain,and elves, could regroup their. With ranks swelling with refugees, Cirdan could muster a impossible to breach defense therein. And last but not least the dwarves of the blue mountains who probably were prosperous with a very large population. Therefore the might of the armies there would be large, almost again like Gil Galad's defensive positions of the second age. Kind of flawed, wouldn't you say?

Thanks Amras, and in my opinion, it would be hard for anyone to escape Minas Tirith, and Imrahil would choose to go down with the ship rather than run to fight a now nearly hopeless war for his home.

Actually, I think corsairs could take southern Gondor. It wouldn't be easy, but all Gondor had left was under 20,000 peasants, and they had been denied their primary city and castle, so I think their wills would be crushed. Even if they did fight, and even if this was with the eagles of even elves from Lorien, I still think they would lose. Maybe if Rohan miraculously won the Battle of Helms deep even when the forces were doubled, then Gondor would be much harder to take. However, with the mobility of the corsairs and the Nazgul Sauron could take the cities left undefended, avoiding another massive seige to conserve his numbers. Further, cities would be unable to sortie against him so Gondor's only hope would be the eagles. I don't think the eagles could slaughter thousands of orcs without becoming pincushions, I think they would not be enough.

If Gondor fell, he would have a much higher chance of victory. Perhaps the free peoples would, as you said, rally around Mithlond, but after Gondor's fall, Frodo and the ring would probably be captured. So even if they did rally, which I think unlikely for several groups to do, they don't have any castles nearly as good as Minas Tirith, and while they might end up with huge forces Sauron would end up with the ring. I wonder just how many soldiers they could get?

I doubt the dwarves would want to uproot there unless the situation was very dire indeed, because they would not want to leave their gold and their halls, and they would have to bring their women, who are to be kept in the halls whenever possible. I also think their numbers would be somewhat less impressive than you think, since they increase very slowly, marrying rarely and only once.

During the hobbit, Dain brought "more than five hundred" dwarves to the lonely mountain. However, he was still outnumbered by the host of men and elves, but thought he could attack it effectively. Maybe six hundred dwarves. These were, however, elite soldiers who had been in battles and were probably the elite guard equivalent for Dain's estate. At Minas Tirith, I estimated here https://www.planet-tolkien.com/board/5/5171/0/rates-of-exchange there to be a total of 5,500 regular guards to the 1,300 elite guards at Minas Tirith and its outer defenses. Keeping that ratio for the dwarves, we end up with the 600 elites Dain brought and 2,500 regular soldiers left behind. This makes sense, as I would imagine the 600 elites could win a battle against up to 1,500 elves and men who had grown soft from long years of peace, and Dain would want to leave his estate well guarded.

Also in the hobbit, we learn that Thorin had "many relatives" who each might send more dwarves. Assuming they each have similar estates, one must determine, how many is many? I'd guess between five and ten, but not all of them would have such powerful estates, since Dain's was probably the strongest estate in the iron mountains. Supposing there are 7 relatives, and each has an estate half as powerful, we end up with 4.5 times the dwarves at the battle for the whole of the iron hills. 600*4.5=2,700 2,500*4.5=11,250. 

How many would the blue mountains hold? They are bigger than the Iron hills, and there is no war there, so my educated guess in this case is one and a half to two times the force from the blue mountains. That makes for a total of 6,750-8,100 elites and 28,125-33,750 regulars. However, I think while this is a good estimate of the numbers of the blue mountains, I think the regulars would be untrained and the elites just regular guards, since they don't have war there. 

Still, that's 2,700 elite dwarves, 16,000 trained dwarves, and 16,000 untrained dwarves. Then there are thousands of elves...

Just re-read some portions of LotR and tH, and I have yet to find any figures with which to estimate the military power of the elves. If anyone has some numbers, please share them.

In any case, it seems like the free peoples have the military power to defeat Sauron in a fair fight, so when Elrond keeps saying "we can't oppose him with military strength" I think he is wrong.

It's been awhile since I've been in here. Anyways, I believe Elrond's assumption was pretty accurate. Towards the end of the third age, many elves have left for the undying lands. Rivendell and London were severely weakened compared to the second age. Basically, only the elves of Mirkwood and Lorien had sufficient numbers to defend their realms from an all out war. As for Men, there was only Gondor. I don't think Rohan would allied themselves with the elves unless if it was absolutely necessary. If Gondor allied with the elves, then maybe they will help. As for the dwarves, they only care about their own realms and maybe just their loose alliance with the surrounding people if necessary.

I didn't mean that the different realms could each stand up to Mordor, Mordor was a superpower and they weren't. However, all of them allied together could, in my opinion, annihilate Mordor's forces in open battle.

There were 35,000 dwarves, nearly 30,000 men from Gondor, 12,000 or more cavalry from Rohan, probably a few thousand humans from dale and laketown, and probably over 10,000 elves. Don't forget the dead soldiers either, they could probably kill a lot of orcs as well. If they had a fortress to help them, the allied forces could probably defeat Mordors forces. In open battle, I think they could have a good chance, especially since Sauron was far too arrogant and could be drawn into a trap, perhaps ending up surrounded, fighting dead soldiers, or even being pitted against the mighty Huorns from Fangorn.

It's been awhile since I read the books, so I don't if it's in there or not, but Theoden pretty much sums it up in the movie. Something like, "The old alliances are dead." Even Gondor, the other superpower whom had the closest relationship with the elves(the Dunedain of the north were just scattered people) had loosely cut ties with the elves, particularly, Rivendell. An evidence of this is where Borimir and Farimir didn't know what Imladaris was. Also as I recalled, either Aragorn, Legelas, or Gimli (maybe all, I forgot) didn't really have strong faith in Rohan's allegiance until Borimir reassured them. So with open war, it would be a little hard for the free people to unite under one banner. Whereas, Sauron's forces had a strong allegiance amongst each other. They were more willing to unite under one banner.

I don't think they would have had trouble uniting under Aragorn. The only people I can imagine wouldn't unite to fight for him are the dwarves. Without them, victory would be difficult. However, with Frodo as a diplomat, perhaps a tedious alliance could be built on the grounds that Glorfindel would fight another Balrog after they destroyed Sauron's armies. The Greeks united to fight the Persians despite near constant war until that point, common enemies cause alliances, that's my opinion.

One thing about the Greeks uniting was because, they were all Greeks. We can say that most likely the elves will unite with little hesitant. But knowing Thranduil, if Gondor calls for aid, most likely we won't send help knowing his realm will be vulnerable. Even if he did sent troops, the numbers will be small.
Hey, what about 10,000 trolls, probably ologhai! Chuckle chuckle. I think Billin was seriously influenced by New Line cinemas ''lotr''. Or he plays way too much Battle for Middlearth. Seriously though mates, don't let the eagles out of the equation, because they after all are Manwe's top guardians. They could of anything up their feathers. And Cur, their were far more men from the Kingdom of Dale than you estimated, because Dorwinion and Carnen mustered most of Dale's host. I think that maybe Sauron might have been smart enough to enlist the worms of the Withered Heath, although most could not breath fire they would of been a deciding factor. Yes, my dearest of PTers, these so called Sauron mistakes remind me of ww2.

I actually think the eagles would be best used to bait the orcs using hobbits and then flying away. This would delay the forces of Mordor perhaps for an extended period of time, providing several advantages. Gondor was on dispersive ground, thus they would want to delay a battle. Further, Mordor had to move its food and supplies to its army, while Gondor did not. They would also have more time to marshal a giant army of elves, men and dwarves and march them south. Perhaps most important is that the orcs were good at killing each other. Everyone remembers how Sam, a lone hobbit without any armor and weary from travel, managed to defeat an entire tower full of bloodthirsty orcs, right? Tsu Szu himself said

Maneuvering with an army is advantageous; with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous.

I think that in this case, orcs (while trained soldiers), can be counted as an undisciplined multitude.

I still believe that all the kingdoms could unite under Aragorn, and I still think that once united, they could defeat Mordor in open battle.