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What can we learn about the enduring nature of war from Scipio Africanus - Essay Example

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This essay examines the principles of one of the most famous Roman artists of war Scipio Africanus, whose tactics and strategy were so brilliant that they are studied by modern students and used in modern offensive actions. …
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What can we learn about the enduring nature of war from Scipio Africanus
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Download file to see previous pages This essay examines the principles of one of the most famous Roman artists of war Scipio Africanus, whose tactics and strategy were so brilliant that they are studied by modern students and used in modern offensive actions. Scipio Africanus gives us a few lessons on the endure nature of war. Scipio uses himself as an example to demonstrate that soldiers must trust their leader and must believe that he has a definite plan and a definite aim. “Scipio similarly made the men under his command more sanguine and more ready to face perilous enterprises by instilling into them the belief that his projects were divinely inspired.”1 Scipio’s authority was so high that his men thought he was led by some higher power to which he was accountable and responsible. Today in modern military the same ideas should be implemented through the seven Army Values, which are aimed at strengthening the morality. Several times throughout his book Liddell Hart mentions the role of Scipio’s high morality and strong willpower in his successes. Let’s turn to contemporary military manual to see what it says about the necessity to develop morality both in leaders and in soldiers: “The army values firmly bind all Army members into a fellowship dedicated to serve the Nation and the Army.”2 It is very important to have proper moral spirit. All the sources evidence that Scipio was a person of a very high moral qualities deeply respecting both his soldiers and other people. George C. Marshall, General of Army, once said: “you have to lead men in war by bringing them along to endure and display qualities of fortitude that are beyond the average man’s thought of what he should be expected to do. You have to inspire them when they are hungry and exhausted and desperately uncomfortable and in great danger. Only a man of positive characteristics of leadership with the physical stamina that goes with it can function under those conditions.”3 Another Scipio’s postulate is that the leader must be confident. “The secret of his sway, extraordinary in one so young, over the crowd mind, especially in times of crisis, was his profound self confidence which radiated an influence to which the stories of his divine inspiration were but auxiliary. Self-confidence is a term often used in a derogatory sense, but Scipio’s was not only justified by results but essentially different, a spiritual exaltation which is epitomized by Aulus Gellius as “conscientious sui subnixus” –“lifted high on his consciousness of himself.”4 It is quite natural and necessary for a leader to feel confidence as none of the soldiers want to be led by an uncertain leader. Experienced officers know that it is not so much important WHAT you say but it matters HOW you say it. Audacity is the basic attribute in offensive actions in all times. “Audacity is a simple plan of action, boldly executed.” Violence of actions also matters. According to George S. Patton, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week”. If a leader is not confident he will not be able to encourage his men to be audacious, he will never help them cope with the fear they face in the battles. Napoleon used to say: “The whole art of war consists in a well ordered and prudent defensive, followed by a bold and rapid offensive”5. Another basic principle of the art of war is objective, which demands to “direct all efforts toward a decisive, obtainable goal.” A good leader must be able to give an objective to his soldiers. “To the soldiers suffering under defeat he made no reproaches, but aptly mingled an appeal to their reason and to their spirit, reminding them how often in Roman history early defeat had been the presage to ultimate victory, how the sure tilting of the balance had already begun the initial disaster found their counterpoise ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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