One of the main requirements in desert warfare is an adequate supply of water. Some of the most robust armies have perished as a result of dehydration, as witnessed by Alexander in Gedrosia. En route to Parthia, Crassus took great care in analyzing travel routes to ensure a sufficient supply of water for his men. Water is also a concern in modern desert armies, and for that reason, its use is often prioritised on the essentials.[a] Since pioneered in the early classical era,[b] many pre-modern armies also employed camels, as opposed to horses, due to their better ability to cope with the arid desert environment. Some European armies, such as that of the British, even adopted clothing used by their colonies, such as the shemagh as protection from the sun.
A camel mounted British officer wearing a shemagh during World War I.[c]
Throughout the history of desert battles, an army's maneuverability also played a crucial role in the its dominance. This statement is true when examining the losses of the numerically superior armies of Hannibal, Crassus, and Ritchie respectively, in the battles of Zama, Carrhae, and Gazala.
^The United States Army's priorities starting from the greatest are as follows: drinking, medical treatment, equipment, personnel use (other than drinking), decontamination, food preparation, laundry, construction