In the melee - and before the invention of firearms all the war was precisely because of them - is crucial brawn fighter. Therefore, the giant elephant that can easily be enormous gravity, and in a rage - to destroy homes and trees - could not avoid the attention of the military, and was doomed to serve in the ancient armies.
The first "called" elephants under its banners Indians, it happened in the early first millennium BC. Looking ahead, I note that the service is delayed and to this day. However, the combat capabilities of the elephants no one is interested in, but still great demand for live trucks and cranes.
Indian Maharaja chose to fight mobile units, the infantry they were not honored. Most mobile combat unit, of course, at that time was an armed horseman. That's against them, the elephants were extremely effective. Horses and elephants were afraid of panic at the meeting, completely forgetting his "military duty", turned to flight.
The elephant, called for military service was the basis of a small unit of three or four, and in some armies, and up to six people. In the minimal version of the staffing of the unit consisted of sarissofora defending the elephant from the attack of infantry, archer's arrow, and "driver". The latter was sitting on the neck and the other crew members in a lightweight shelter on the back. Alternatively, adding heavy weaponry - darter, or enhances protection - were added to the four infantry unit designed to protect the animal's legs in battle.
Frankly, the effectiveness of shooting from a moving elephant is not very high. To verify this, just ride on elephant back, when he moves unhurried pace. If an elephant is running, then hold "in the saddle" can only an experienced rider, but about the shooting can all forget.
But the main merit of the elephant was not in the armed crew, and in himself, his strength, weight and menacing form. Significantly increased the combat capacity of the animal steel lugs on the tusks and protective armor. A huge curved sword in the trunk further reinforces the impression, and brow-beat, without causing, however, virtually no harm to the enemy.
Indian tactic of elephants eventually copied the tank crews of the Second World War. Elephants were collected in a single fist and placed in the center of troops to break through the defense and break the enemy's system. Success developed infantry and cavalry, coming over the huge animals.
Enemy infantry, the first time, faced with attack by the elephants, initially fled in terror. But the method of combating giants found quite quickly. "Intrigue" was the psychological aspects of giants. They are fairly easy to scare, after which the animal becomes unmanageable, tends to escape and destroy their forces as effectively as the enemy.
Thus, in the Battle of Magnesia Romans used against elephants ... pigs. Plastered them with resin, burned and released on the battlefield. Mad squealing pigs caused panic among the elephants, after which the Roman infantry dobila remnants of enemy troops.
To combat such surprises in Carthage drovers began to equip the hammer and chisel or a long nail. In the event of panic, people had to kill an elephant, slid the chisel in the skull of the animal.
In addition to such "self-killer" and tactical measures taken, the elephants stopped at the center of the constructions, leaving their flanks and behind them, removing all its troops. And gradually, the beginning of a new era, the elephants have almost disappeared from the armies of most countries.
However, in India, they effectively used until the arrival of artillery, and then gradually elephants, men have become a convenient vehicle. In per se as the elephants are in the Indian Army to this day. Their service is regulated, every "war" animal has a passport, and on reaching the age of 65 is sent to "retire" to the conservation and maintenance ration.
As we see in our time, not only for horses, but for elephants military service continues ...