What Was The Grand Strategy Of The Roman Empire Before The 3rd Century Collapse? What Reforms Began And How Did They Change Roman Grand Strategy, Tactics, And Military Organization?

1006 words - 4 pages

Entering the Third Century, the Roman Empire, under Hadrian, executed its grand strategy based on the simple concept of perimeter defense. This perimeter defense consisted of legions stationed within fortresses on the Roman frontier, and some were even accompanied by large stone walls (the most famous being that of Hadrian's Wall in North England). Another factor that made it easy for the Romans to adopt this type of perimeter defense strategy was the reputation of it's army, that is, the Roman army was so tactically superior to it's enemies, that it was in itself the biggest deterrent to would-be attackers, not necessarily the fortresses and walls placed along the perimeter.Another advantage of this strategy was the low cost of army/troop maintenance; in fact, the Roman Empire at one point defended an empire of 50,000,000 people with an army of merely 300,000. This low cost and small army was directly related to the fact that Rome did not employ a central reserve in order to protect the internal empire should the outside perimeter collapse. It was instead based on a defensive system of networked roads and rivers, through which, the small special units tasked with interior defense could quickly travel to reinforce a troubled area. Thus, all available manpower could be brought forth along the main line of battle and this further enhanced the fighting spirit of the troops already engaged on the front line--they knew that they had a strong and dedicated army coming to reinforce them, and they fought harder because of it.However, despite that at the time this was a tried and true strategy and use of military manpower, it must be understood that a grand strategy of a nation consists of more than just it's military--but also it's politics, diplomacy, economics and, sometimes, religion. It was these latter reasons that soon brought about the extinction of the perimeter defense concept--civil war and internal rebellion soon caused the diversions of legions from the front lines to internal skirmishes; and therefore, the perimeter defense was no longer effective.In 284, Diocletian had risen through the ranks, and seized enough power to claim his right to rule. After he had reclaimed the frontiers that had been lost before his reign, Diocletian increased the size of his army (to about 400,000 to 500,000), and introduced a heavy reliance on the skirmisher arms and in cavalry. He introduced specialized units to the Roman military; cavalry lancers, Companions, shock troops, crack infantry, and imperial bodyguards soon found their way into the Roman ranks.Diocletian continued to expand upon the strategy of perimeter defense; however, he adopted a separate approach. He was a firm believer in developing roads and forts, through which he could better maneuver his armies and while the reinforcing army was enroute, the forts could provide longevity (via protection) to the soldiers already engaged on the front line. He also divided the frontiers into four military...

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