Military Strategies Employed by Alexander the Great Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

military strategies employed by Alexander the Great and how he was able to skillfully use his political and military skills in conquering most of Europe and Asia in his time.

Alexandros III Philippou Makedonon reigned as the king of Macedonia from 356-323 B.C. He was born to King Philip and his third wife, Olympias in July 356 BC in Pella, Macedonia. He is remembered as one of the greatest military genius in history. During his lifetime, he conquered much of world, since his main ambition was to conquer the world and create world monarchy.

Alexander, was the strong, handsome commander leading his army using the best military strategies of his time. His army was armed with sarisses, the fearful five and half meter long spears. He was the first great conqueror to invade Greece, Egypt, and India. He was popular for creating ethnic syncretism between the Macedonians and the conquered people, especially the Persians. During his conquests, his mission was to spread the Greek culture as well as the Roman Civilization and Christianity.

His father was a luminous ruler and strategist. Alexander was more ambitious than his father; when he heard of Philip's conquests and he remarked:

My father will get ahead of me in everything, and will leave nothing great for me to do.

As a young boy, Alexander was brave and strong. At the minor age of 12, he tamed the beautiful Bucephalus horse that no one else could ride. Philip was proud of Alexander's horsemanship and said:

my son, seek out a kingdom worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee.

Alexander was very fond of Homeric epics, he even knew the Iliad by heart and also slept with the Iliad under his pillow.

Alexander was taught by Aristotle at Mieza, along with other boys belonging to the Macedonian aristocracy from the age of 13 to 16. Aristotle, taught him about the world of arts and sciences.

Alexander is considered to be not only one of the greatest military commanders in history, but also a skilled politician, with a strong personality, which was full of compassion for others especially his army men.

The personality of the general is indispensable, he is the head, he is the all of an army.... It was not the Macedonian Phalanx which penetrated to India, but Alexander."

Napoleon Bonaparte

Words such as brilliant and genius are used to characterize him as a skilled commander. Major General J.F.C. Fuller, author of The Generalship of Alexander the Great, in his book describes his genius using the following words, "binds the Great Captains into a common brotherhood." Fuller also states that "it was Alexander's genius that gave soul to his army."

Alexander's strong personality, physical and moral courage, bravery, ambitions, determination, victories and achievements created a feeling of admiration, security and affection in his troops.

Alexander had the ability to adopt strategies for any kind of warfare, whether they were major battles, sieges, minor skirmishes, guerrilla opposition or even revolts. This was one of the main skills that made him have an edge above other great commanders. He is remembered for never losing a battle during his 10 years of campaign between 335 and 325 BC, and he fought a major battle or siege at least once every year in this period. The highly trained, well-equipped army Alexander inherited from his father was able to adapt to and meet the challenges of type of warfare. Fuller describes the army as "the most perfectly organized, trained, and equipped army of ancient times." [J.F.C. Fuller. Generalship of Alexander the Great (1958)]

Alexander was well-known for motivating and boosting his men's morale. This is quite significant because today many well-known and famous military leaders lay great emphasis on the importance of taking care of their soldiers not only to boost morale but also maintain a cohesive unit. Alexander was to every extent an excellent leader, showing his caliber as a brave man leading his men into battle and also showing his genuine concern for their welfare. He was also considerate when it came to fighting battles because he would never ask his men to do what he would not or could not do himself.

Fuller takes a look at one insightful ritual in his book: "Before battle, he would ride down the ranks, and call aloud by name, [those men] which in previous battles had performed conspicuous deeds of valor. Being praised before his comrades by the commander himself in this manner must have been a major morale booster for a soldier. After the battle he would care for his wounded men, give the fallen - both friend and foe alike - a splendid military funeral and praise those who had shown bravery in battle. Now and then he would arrange games and festivals to celebrate and further boost morale and keep the troops happy. Furthermore, the children of those who had lost their lives received their father's pay, and once he sent his newly married men home to spend the winter with their families. During the Indian campaign he also cancelled the soldier's debts." [J.F.C. Fuller. Generalship of Alexander the Great (1958)]

Alexander's military victories would have been very limited if he didn't make full use if his statesmanship and the skilled political ways. He used the tools of politics and military powering his grand strategy. He was different from other rulers because he lived on the principles of goodwill of the population for possessing strong military power. The Asiatic Greeks considered him to be more of a liberator than an invader, because he treated them as allies and with respect for Hellenistic traditions by rebuilding their temples. [R. L. Fox. Alexander the Great (1973)]

When he met the Iranian people, he built partnership with their leaders to become friends. He used this newfound friendship for his own self-interest and took advantage of his reputation and the cowardice of Darius, ruler of the Persian Empire, who had twice fled from the battlefield. Following Darius death, he made use of his policy in the Persian court etiquette and even wore Persian apparel in courtesy to show respect for the Iranian people. He felt this was important because conquering Persia using arms would have been more difficult because circumstances would push him into leaving a major part of his army behind to garrison the provinces. [R.A. Gabriel & D.W. Boose, Jr. Great Battles of Antiquity, The: A Strategic And Tactical Guide to Great Battles that Shaped the Development of War (1994)]

Aristotle was born in Stagira, northern Greece. His father was the personal physician of Amyntas II, the king of nearby Macedonia. Amyntas was the grandfather of Alexander the Great. At the age of 18 years, Aristotle took admission into Plato's school in Athens- "The Academy." He studied there for about 20 years. Plato identified with Aristotle as the Academy's brightest and most learned student, and called him the "intelligence of the school" and the "reader." [Thomas R. Martin, Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press), Orations 9.31, p. 188]

On Plato's death, Aristotle left the Academy and joined a small group of Plato's disciples living with Hermeias, a former student at the Academy. Later, Philip II, king of Macedonia, asked Aristotle to tutor his son Alexander. Alexander with the skills and strategies taught to him went on to conquer Greece, overthrew the Persian Empire, and became known as Alexander the Great. Alexander studied under Aristotle until 336 B.C., he left when his father was assassinated and he had to be crowned the next king of Macedonia.

In 334 B.C., Aristotle went back to Athens and opened a school by the name of the Lyceum. At that school, Aristotle's philosophy, and his followers were called peripatetic, taken from the Greek word meaning walking around, because Aristotle taught while walking with his students.

Following Alexander's death in 323 B.C., Aristotle was accused with lack of reverence for the gods by the Athenians. This could be because they were jealous of his friendship with Alexander, since he was the one who conquered them. Aristotle knew what had happened to the philosopher Socrates, who was put to death for similar charges by the Athenians in 399 B.C. so he left for the city of Chalcis. He died the following year in the same city.

Alexander's contributions to history span many disciplines. He is remembered as one of the greatest military strategist, tactician, and ruler in world history. Alexander's achievements during his lifetime have had an impact on many military, political, and business leaders. In the ancient world the powerful Roman leaders, Pompey, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony, and Augustus Caesar, including India's Chandra Gupta Maurya were greatly influenced by him.

Even today, his strategies are remarked as "breathtaking," because his military skills are timeless. In the Gulf war, Alexander's strategies and tactics were used in how the U.S. framed strategies and tactics of the war ironically on those same sands…

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