Lessons of Classical Leadership and Discipline for a Post-modern Military

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Evan Munsing shares some lessons of Classical leadership and discipline for our post-modern military:

Hans Delbruck said of the eventual Roman triumph over the Greeks, “All the differences between the Greek and Roman military systems can be traced back to the difference in discipline.” It was this discipline that allowed the Romans with first a citizen army, and then a professional army, to secure the borders of a new nation and to expand them to the farthest reaches of the known world. And it was the decline of that discipline that marked the fall of the Empire, being both a symptom and a cause of it. The wealth, the infrastructure and the technology of Rome meant nothing in the face of foreign invaders when the organization and composition of their military was beyond repair. Roman discipline was built upon a belief in the virtues of austerity and frugality, the dignity of labor and an acceptance of hardship — but tempered by a willingness to acknowledge the basic humanity of soldiers and not to castigate them for sins they committed away from the battlefield. These beliefs would have been familiar to Americans of two or three generations ago, but that is no longer the case. Our ability to remain an effective fighting force may depend upon on our willingness to accept those virtues once again and America’s willingness to allow us to act in accordance with those beliefs.

Leave a Reply