Different military tactics were adopted and developed from ancient times. Some of these techniques, regardless of how old they were and tons of technological advancements since they were first used, were still useful and effective against the enemy forces. One of them was the scorched earth tactics that have been used for as long as armies have conducted military campaigns, back from the Scythians, and the latest one being the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here are the different eras that the tactic was used.

Ancient Times

Before we talk about the times that scorched earth tactics were used, we have to understand first what it is. In the simplest words, it could be explained as, “If we couldn’t make use of it, neither could you.” The aim was to destroy anything that may be of use to the enemy— be it natural resources, military equipment, food stores, water sources, transport, communication, animals, or even local citizens. The latter changed and was banned under the 1977 Geneva Convention, but the principle of the tactics still remained: to destroy the resources so that the enemies could not use them.

The method could be traced back to the Scythians, who first used it against the Persians and King Darius the Great. The nomadic herders Scythians evaded the Persian invaders and retreated back into the forest after moving in secret, destroying the enemies’ food, and poisoning their wells.

Seeing the success of the tactics, other ancient societies adopted it, such as the ancient Greeks against Alexander the Great, Armenians, and the Gauls. The Gauls used the scorched earth technique to combat the ancient Romans and turned the countryside of Benelux and France into a wasteland. This, however, did not guarantee their triumph, as the Romans still ended up defeating the Gauls.