“Born to Run”

Hour 1.5: In class on Thursday we began with quiz on the last module and finished upour discussion on our analysis on Cicero and Catiline. We discussed a few passages that we chose out of Cicero’s speech about Catiline to the Senate. Through the passages we discussed the devices Cicero uses to portray how terrible Catiline is.

Hours 2–5: I began working on the module this weekend and I was happy to see that we will be analyzing military leadership in the ancient world. I think military leadership is slightly overlooked in the world today, but it is very vital because our military leaders make the decisions that allow us to live safely. In this module we will be looking at Julius Caesar as a commander in battle. The module opens with Caesar’s opening excerpt about the battle of Gaul.

Caesar could have opened his work in countless ways — so far as we know, the commentarii genre does not have strongly typed opening . But he chooses to open his war story with a bird’s-eye view of the territory conquered (“Gaul is a whole divided into three parts”), like a map-maker (or a gamer? or a god?). Why?

  • I think Caesar opened the war story with an overview of the territory he conquered because it gives almost a god like view, like he’s watching over the territory he’s conquered and to show off his military success. Caeser seems to have been a military leader who was focused on strategy and nothing is more strategic than knowing your enemy’s territory.

For the second section of the module we are looking at what the definition is of a good leader in war.

Write down two things:

  1. a full-blown description of the ideal military leader
  2. a list of attributes a military leader should have

A military leader should have decorum and military bearing in the face of adversity. A leader must also be decisive. A military leader should be able to give respectable orders and see that they are followed through. A military leader should also understand his subordinates and strive to improve them and guide them into battle. Any one can be a leader, they just have to make the right decisions. Physically I don’t particularly care what the leader looks like. I know maybe in ancient times the apperance of the leader was very important, but I personally believe that anybody has the ability to lead, whether you listen to a person based on their looks doesn’t negate the fact that they have every other leadership quality that makes a good leader.

The attributes of a military leader are very similar to the description I gave. Military leaders should embody discipline and sacrifice. When people are in the military they give up a lot of things that civilians don’t have to give up. I think that it is sometimes hard to give up the things that we have to, but in the end it helps us grow in discipline as well as with the sacrifices we have to make. I don’t think the sacrifices ever get easier, but it does help in learning to cope faster.

The third section of the module focuses on chance. The word chance defined in three languages:

  • The English word ‘chance’ comes from a root that means ‘fall’.
  • The Greek word we usually translate as ‘chance’ is tyche, which comes from a verb that means ‘happen upon’.
  • The Latin word is fortuna, which comes from a root that means ‘carry’.

I think the word chance in military leadership is frowned upon in more modern day leadership because in combat we don’t want to hear that there is a chance that we will win, rather we want statistics and hard facts on our probability and if it is low we won’t take that chance. In an Air Force perspective it is the reason we created the smart missiles, because prior to that whenever we wanted to bomb something, we would just drop one bomb that may or may not hit the target, now the GPS target system missiles will hit where we need them to, because we couldn’t take that chance of missing the target.

Throughout this section we look at some of Caeser’s decisions as a military leader from a post WWII perspective. From what Caesar had written in his recounts of his war time things appear almost barbaric. He killed millions of Gauls, which could be considered genocide. The concept of total is fascitnating in the fact that it did not come about till much later. It stems from the size of our world now and the pride of where we live.

Hours 5.5: In class on Tuesday we discussed the beginning the module. We started off class discussing the midterm and the graffiti around campus. This module is looking at military leadership in the ancient world, specifically with Julius Caesar. We discussed who Julius Caesar was and how he influenced and led Rome. When we look at Caesar we look at the art of persuasuion in leadership and that ties in with the last module about rhetoric. We looked at two ways of thinking about war:

Carl von Clausewitz: war is a mental game and more so psychological. Believed in empowerment and motivation to go out and fight the war.

Antoine-Henri Jomini: Saw war as a chess match, believed in strategic warfare.

During class we characterized some of Caeser’s decisions in war as one of the two methods of looking at war. The opening passsage where Caesar was describing Gaul, was an example of the Dominion, because he is mapping out Gaul almost from a birds eye view and that allows strategic planning because he tells you where everything is. Personally I favor a Jominian interpretation of war because I like for there to be a plan so that things don’t get confused and we can be prepared for when things happen.

There was a question a leader should ask themselves that stuck out to me, and that is whether or not they are the kind of leader that could train others to lead. That question sticks out to me mainly because that is the main purpose of ROTC, to train individuals to be leaders. I think we look at leaders as though they are born as great leaders rather than they have learned those leadership skills over time. ROTC trains us by grouping us with leaders in our same age group to help us understand that the raod to good leadership is long and does not come without difficulty. I think that when I look at great leaders now, I understand more what they have gone through and that their leadership skills did not come without sacrifice or difficulty.

Hours 6–8: For the third section of the module we are looking at an excerpt from Caesar’s Commentarii de bello civili. In this passage Caesar is describing the battle at Pharsulus. The passage has many examples of the two ways of looking at war. There is a lot of strategy as well as psychological aspects. The two issues that will be discussed throughout the rest of the module are

  1. Pompey’s position is tactically well-reasoned, but does not factor in the ‘natural’ psychology of the warrior.
  2. The text is written by Caesar himself, and Caesar intended the Senate to read it.

As I was reading the excerpt, I noticed that one of Caesar’s reservist was so ready to go to war for him. I think Caesar did a good job of motivating his soldiers. Morale and motivation are very important when it comes to war, but strategy is also very important. The passage demonstrates aspects of both. I also think that the passage may be a little skewed in the perspective of Caesar obviously because he wrote it.

The first two paragraphs in the excerpt are Clausewitzian in nature because it talks about how Caesar’s soldiers were ready to go to battle and fight and how Crastinus would earn thanks from Caesar. Caesar does a good job playing on the “warrior spirit”.

The last paragraphs after that were Jominian because Caesar was describing everything that was happening in terms of soldier placement, battle strategy, distance, etc.

Hours 9–10: In the next section we are looking at an excerpt from the battle and analyzing it using the OODA loop strategy. The OODA loop is simply the sequence of the following four actions, repeated constantly in battle:

  1. observe
  2. orient
  3. decide
  4. act

In the Air Force we use the saying “Speed of Excellence” and the OODA loop strategy is a prime example of this because you are able to be there before the enemy. Colonel Boyd’s strategy is one of the principle doctrines that we use today because of it’s simplicity. Making decisions in battle or in any stressful which is why we have doctrine to simplify the process. In the excerpt Caesar’s soldiers are beginning their assault. As they advance they notice that Pompey’s army is not, they immediately halted and adjusted their speed. This whole process exemplifies good military tactics and strategy. They observed the situation, and immediately reoriented. Caesar was able to decide on what to do after the initial attack and ordered his fourth line to go in and it led to a victory.

In the final section of the module we are looking at Caesar’s character in Rome and his leadership in terms of the obedience of his followers.

Why, in Caesar’s account, do these cities switch sides and join Caesar?

  • The cities switched sides because they were concerned for their safety and they thought that Caesar could protect them better than Pompey.

Why would you change allegiance from one warring party to the other?

  • I think that I would switch sides if there was a guarantee of my safety and well being.

Do you believe Caesar’s account? what exactly do you believe and what do you not believe? why?

  • I think I beleive Caesar’s account because it is the only perspective I have to go on. I think because he is described as generous by others that maybe he is telling the truth.
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