Summary: This is the fourth in a series of articles about Donald Vandergriff, explaining why changing the Army’s methods of recruiting, training, motivating, and retaining people are the key structural changes to make it better fitted for warfare in the 21st century.
Today’s we have a excerpt from the Preface to Don Vandergriff’s book Manning the Future Legions of the United States: Finding and Developing Tomorrow’s Centurions (2008). Posted here with permission of the author.
“People, ideas and hardware, in that order!”
— John Boyd (Colonel, USAF, 1927-1997), “A Discourse on Winning and Losing”, unpublished briefing, August 1987, p. 5-7.
Like the United States today, Rome faced multiple challenges in 107 B.C., and was hard pressed to field adequate forces; the number of men who were qualified to serve, who could equip themselves was running out. The Jurgurthine War in North Africa had been going on far too long for the liking of the Roman Senate, a task that counsul (general) Gaius Marius took upon himself to resolve. German tribes had already defeated several Roman armies and threatened Gaul (southern France) as well as Italy.
Marius was a man of vision and acted upon the need to secure Roman provinces with the resources at hand. He did not have a technological revolution at his disposal to solve his strategic problem. Marius turned to an intangible solution, the way the Roman Army was manned, structured and fought its legions as the solution.
The first thing he did was address how the legions were manned (later referred to in this book as recruiting, trained and retained), and he admitted men of the lower classes.
- They were recruited to serve long term obligations as much as twenty years or more.
- Then, they were trained, armed, fed, housed, paid and offered the opportunity of spoils of war.
- More importantly, for reasons of retention, they were given a pension for those who survived the long years of arduous service.
Given the alternatives these men faced, this was the best they could expect from life. Yet, an even larger personnel change was the ability to promote men from the ranks, who through performance in combat, into leadership positions leading others throughout the legion. Through these unprecedented actions, Marius gave Rome what was needed most, a professional army that would expand its borders and provide internal security for centuries to come. (or more about this see the Roman Army page at The Illustrated Roman Empire website)