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Sarah Mapes

Professor Lark

Ancient World History

May 24, 2017

Alexander the Great: His Influence on Modern Warfare

Alexander the Great was known as a conqueror in his time. Alexander never lost a battle

and defeated many armies whose numbers were far greater than his own. Using multiple war

tactics and confidence Alexander would soon become one of the most accomplished war leaders

of all time. Alexanders use of strategy, standardization, supply line warfare, organization,

training, military tactics and leadership capabilities continue to influence modern military today.

The Greeks were the first to seriously employ strategy in warfare by using the

Macedonian phalanx formation. This strategy consisted of soldiers in close proximity to one

another, each carrying a sarissa, or long spear, and a shield. Mattias (2011) states, the American

soldiers used the phalanx in the Civil War because guns were not automatic (p. 1). Although the

soldiers did not use shield and spears, the phalanx strategy was adapted as one line would go to

reload their weapons, the next would fire. According to Cartwright (2017), war became more

professional, more innovative, and more deadly, reaching its zenith with the Macedonian leaders

Philip and Alexander (p. 1).

Standardization was also utilized by Alexander. When the Greeks started maritime

warfare, Alexander mandated that all oars be the same length. This was useful because if one

boat needed more oars then the other boats would have the same type of oars to share. This idea
is used in modern military in many areas. Todays soldiers usually carry the same type of firearm

and therefore can share ammunition. Another example would be uniforms. Each branch of the

military has a standard uniform.

Alexander the Greats leadership capabilities allowed him to rally his armies and run into

battle. His men respected him and followed him into combat with confidence. According to

Admiral Ray Smith, we have learned that the key to leadership under the toughest possible

circumstances is that officers undergo the same training. [Navy Seals] know their officer is not

asking them to do anything he couldnt do, or hasnt done (Alexander, 2000, p. 1). Alexander

the Great did just that; he was always at the front of battle and went into combat alongside his

army. Another leadership qualification is to respond appropriately in battle. Alexander was good

at anticipating the rival forces reactions. He often won battles because he would use phalanx

strategy to trick his opponent into reacting a certain way and then having another part of his

army come out of the woodworks and break the enemy line. This in turn led to much success on

Alexanders part.

Alexander was adamant about training his armies properly. He commanded that his

soldiers knew phalanx strategy and how to use the weapons provided. This influenced todays

military branches, for example United States Marines first must go through basic training, then

through marine training. Then the best marines would go through yet more training to become

Navy Seals, and the best of the Seals would move on to final training to become part of Seal

Team 6, a very elite force (Mattias, 2011, p. 1). The idea of a well-trained army has become a

necessity in modern militaries around the world.


Supply line warfare is where one force would cut off an enemys supply line. A supply

line is an armys way to get food, supplies, weapons, etc. Alexander the Great utilized supply line

warfare and strategy to supply his troops with food, water and equipment to his traveling army.

In 320 BC, Alexanders 35,000-man army traveled with no more than a 10-day supply of food.

Alexander also incorporated supply chain logistics into his overall military strategy (Welborn,

2008, p. 1). This type of warfare has been used ever since in the Revolutionary War, the Civil

war, the Plains Indian Wars, World War II and even the Vietnam War.

Alexanders creation of a ranking system within his army was crucial to delegating

responsibilities and further organization with the troops. At the top was Alexander himself, then

his Polemarchos, or senior officers. From there the ranks descended from Strategos (generals) to

Taxiarhos (Brigadiers), Syntagmatarkhis (colonels), Tagmatarkhis (battalion leaders), and Lokhagos

(captains) to Hoplites also known as foot soldiers. Modern militaries around the world still use the

ranking system, for example the United States Marines ascend from Private to Private First Class

to Lance Corporal to Corporal to Sergeant to Staff Sergeant to Gunnery Sergeant to Master

Sergeant and so on. This ranking system creates a line a command necessary for smooth

communication.

As stated by Edwin and Gilbert (2017), we cannot fail to be indebted to him for having

preserved to us a lucid description of the organization, equipment, drill, discipline and tactical

formations of ancient Greek armies, and particularly of the Macedonian army of the time of

Alexander the Great (p. 4). Alexander the Greats use of strategy, standardization, supply line

warfare, organization, training, military tactics and leadership capabilities continue to positively

influence modern warfare today.


Works Cited

Alexander, C. (2000). Alexander the Conqueror. National Geographic, 197(3), 42.

Greek Warfare. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2017, from http://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Warfare/

Mattias, Z. (2011, October 16). Ancient Greek Military. Retrieved May 24, 2017, from

https://ancientgreeceinformation.wordpress.com/ancient-greek-military/

The Evolution of Tactics. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2017, from

http://books.google.com/books?

hl=en&lr=&id=Wb30n6zVVc0C&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=Alexander%2Bthe%2BGreat

%2Bmodern

%2Btactics&ots=I6bjVm5jzg&sig=IT0faMAoP95c4DlrOBhkkVO_0w#v=onepage&q=

Alexander%20the%20Great%20modern%20tactics&f=false

Welborn, D. (2008). Supply Line Warefare. Retrieved May 24, 2017, from

https:// web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=a57cf72b-e90e-4cc0-bcfd-

699ae7daa753%40sessionmgr101&vid=1&hid=130