First  Prev  1  2  3  4  5  6  Next  Last
Post Reply Rome, Sweet Rome': Could a Single Marine Unit Destroy the Roman Empire?
52844 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
100 / M
Offline
Posted 5/17/16 , edited 5/22/16
It was a hypothetical question that became a long online discussion and now a movie in development: Could a small group of heavily armed modern-day Marines take down the Roman Empire at its height?

James Erwin was browsing Reddit on his lunch break when a thread piqued his interest. A user called The_Quiet_Earth had posed the question: "Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or MEU?"

The question struck a chord with the 37-year-old Erwin, a technical writer from Des Moines, Iowa, who happened to be finishing a book called The Encyclopedia of U.S. Military Actions (Through Facts on File). Erwin tells PM that he wasn't impressed by other users' early attempts to answer this question, and so, posting under the username Prufrock451, he came up with his own response. Erwin wrote a 350-word short story chronicling the fictitious 35th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), which suddenly disappears from modern-day Kabul and reappears on the Tiber River in 23 B.C. Erwin posted the piece, finished his meal, and went back to work.

After work, Erwin checked reddit. Thousands of users had read his post and they demanded more. Excited and overwhelmed, Erwin continued submitting pieces of this growing Internet phenomenon. The next day, Los Angeles–based management firm Madhouse Entertainment contacted him about representation. Within the week, after Erwin had put just more than 3500 words to screen, Warner Brothers Studios bought the movie rights.

Erwin's story, which he titled Rome, Sweet Rome, has a cult following among reddit members, its own subreddit on the site, and has inspired fan music and art. But from the beginning, his posts received comments critiquing the accuracy of his conjured tale. Other redditors commented. Historians commented. Marines commented. "You can definitely tell that the story was something that I dashed out on my lunch hour without doing a lot of research beforehand," says Erwin, an encyclopedia writer and two-time Jeopardy! champ. "Any Marine is going to see mistakes in it, and I'm sure if there were Romans around, they'd say the same thing." He plans on doing intensive technical research during the screenwriting process.

So—disregarding troubling questions about time travel and just why some temporally displaced Marines would feel compelled to destroy an empire——could a single MEU destroy the Roman Empire? To sort through the flood of online responses, PM talked to a Roman military expert and found out how the two sides would line up.
Infantry

An MEU typically contains about 2200 troops, along with their artillery and vehicles. According to Erwin's original reddit story (which will be altered for the movie), the Marines are transported back in time with what they have with them, including M1 Abrams battle tanks, bulletproof vests, M4 rifles, and grenades.

The year Erwin chose (23 B.C.) falls in the reign of Augustus, great-nephew of Julius Caesar and considered the first Roman emperor. His legions numbered nearly 330,000 men. They wore heavy leather and metal armor, carried swords and javelins, and operated catapults. They would have never heard the sound of an explosion before. "Obviously, there is a massive difference in firepower," says Roman military expert and author Adrian Goldsworthy. "Not only would Roman armor be useless against a rifle round—let alone a grenade launcher or a .50 caliber machine gun—it would probably distort the bullet's shape and make the wound worse."



In the reddit story, however, Erwin said the Marines would not be resupplied with bullets, batteries, or gasoline from the modern world. "There would be no way of obtaining replacements for these supplies in the ancient world," Goldsworthy says. "An average unit of Marines is not likely to be able to make an oil refinery, start generating electricity, or create machine tools to make spare parts for equipment." And even if they could figure it out, it would take many months or even years. So, as soon as the Marines ran out of gas, their tanks would become little more than hunks of metal.

"In the short term and in the open, modern infantry could massacre any ancient soldiers at little risk to themselves," Goldsworthy says. "But you could not support modern infantry. So all of these weapons and vehicles could make a brief, dramatic, and even devastating appearance, but would very quickly become useless. Probably in a matter of days."
Reinforcements

Erwin's reddit story stipulates that no more Marines will come back in time, although they may recruit in the ancient world. The Marines would have to; even at their lowest periods, the Roman Empire could conscript hundreds of thousands of soldiers whenever it wanted.

"A Roman centurion would say 'Let's take 1000 of these guys. Five hundred of them don't come back? Get another 500 guys,'" Erwin says. "Americans have never been very good at sending people out as cannon fodder. Marines are better trained and are much harder to replace. No Marine sees himself as a cog, and no Marine is."

Both sides pride themselves on having competent leaders down to the smallest unit level. Goldsworthy says the battle would depend on who had the better officers. Erwin believes it would be shock and awe versus numbers.

"Marines are the best warriors ever trained," he says. "But they can't fight an endless wave of soldiers. No one can."
Tactics

The Roman legions and Marines are both highly trained with a clear unit structure and hierarchy of command. They emphasize aggression, dominating the opponent, unit cohesion, and being flexible on the ground. "It's easy to arrange people like chess pieces and march them in a direction," Erwin says. "But when you've got basically huge gangs of people going toward each other at knifepoint, it's very hard to maintain a plan. So they have to improvise."

Romans depended on intimidation to psych out their opponents. They marched in unison and appeared as big and conspicuous as possible, overlapping shields to protect each other from attack. But wearing bright colors and lining up straight isn't going to do much good against a unit of Marines, who would be best off attacking guerilla-style while the Romans marched.

One advantage for the Marines: a knowledge of military history. The Marines would know from Rome's history that its legions could be susceptible to ambushes, such as the one that led to their crushing defeat at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. The Marines would have serious disadvantages such as navigation, Goldsworthy says. Besides losing all satellite navigation, their modern maps would be practically useless—everything from the course of rivers to the placement of forests would be different. But, at least in their first encounters with the Marines, the Romans probably wouldn't know that.



The key for the Marines would be to stay on the move and avoid getting bogged down in one place. If they stood still, Goldsworthy says, the Romans could easily surround them and then take advantage of their huge numbers advantage. The Romans would probably use a variety of nasty siege weapons on the Marines, such as the scorpion, a large crossbow that rapidly fired long bolts. Romans were also known to cut off opponents from water and food supplies, forcing them to surrender or die.

Who Would Win?

Historian Goldsworthy says the MEU would probably lose in the long term—without the ability to resupply their modern weapons, they simply wouldn't be able to overcome the Roman numbers. However, he says, they could destabilize the Roman Empire, encourage civil war, and initiate regional fracturing. "[The Marines] might discredit the Emperor by defeating the closest army to Rome," he says. "But they would lack the numbers to control Rome itself—with a population of a million or so—let alone the wider empire."

What about in the film? Erwin says he knows the ending, but won't reveal it anytime soon. He's currently on leave from his technical writing job to work on the screenplay full-time. A release date for the film version of Rome, Sweet Rome, or what it will be called, is still unknown.

Source: http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a7341/rome-sweet-rome-could-a-single-marine-unit-destroy-the-roman-empire/
Posted 5/17/16
That not a post but the first page of a novel.
Posted 5/17/16
Dat was long.
52844 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
100 / M
Offline
Posted 5/17/16
I found it from the website, I thought that you all would be interested in reading about them
52844 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
100 / M
Offline
Posted 5/17/16 , edited 5/17/16

Seacactus wrote:

Dat was long.



But interesting.. doesn't seem long to me, because I got into it.. all suddenly I'm at the end! :(


I found the Trailer :), I'm gonna look around see if I can find the movie at netflix..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bF8eYjm6oNc
6492 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
62 / M / Central Florida
Offline
Posted 5/17/16
Have you ever read, Lest Darkness Fall by L.Sprague de Camp?
https://www.scribd.com/doc/8651639/L-Sprague-de-Camp-Lest-Darkness-Fall
A single historian stops the fall of the Empire! It has him introducing some "modern" tech such as distilling and the printing press.
Banned
17503 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
29 / M / B.C, Canada
Offline
Posted 5/17/16 , edited 5/17/16
I don't mean to sound overly critical of the USMC but calling them highly trained is a bit much. From what I've seen of them they lack operational discipline and frankly a shockingly high number of friendly fire incidents. So much so they call it friendly fucking for crying out loud.

And let's face it the Americans have never been good at handling being surrounded and outnumbered. Most of the major American victories in history have happened when they either a) had a clear numerical superiority or b) a clear logistical superiority. And usually both most of the time.

Then there is the sheer language barrier . Even if the this MEU felt like recruiting locals or hiring mercenaries I doubt they could. Mainly since few people in the modern world speak either Latin or Ancient Greek well enough to hold a conversation. Let alone discussing the intricacies of military training and strategy.
Posted 5/17/16
So long
Posted 5/17/16
>> Una cena senza vino e come un giorno senza sole..
15259 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
23 / M / UK
Offline
Posted 5/17/16 , edited 5/17/16
If you want a basic idea of what would happen (battlewise), watch ep 2 of gate

http://www.crunchyroll.com/gate/episode-2-the-two-armies-682115

The marines would crush the roman legionaries and could bring the Roman Empire to its knees providing they did not run out of ammunition. If you want a historical example, look up the conquest of South America by the Castilians and the Aragonese. At best he the Spaniards were able to field a few hundred men however, they were able to bring down several large empires which could field muster of thousands of men. For example at the battle of Otumba less than a thousand 1000 Spaniards and Tlaxcalans were able to beat an Aztec army estimated to be well into the tens of thousands if not more. The marines would be nearly 2000 years ahead in military technology, if they went toe to toe with a roman amry the outcome would be decisivly in their favour.

However, the biggest problem the marines would face would be the lack of supplies and a complete inability to replace their ammunition and weaponry. Additionally, when they ran out of ammunition, they be at a severe disadvantage and would be crushed because they had not been trained to fight hand-to-hand. Vehicles would quickly become useless as they ran out of fuel and unless they could move the artillery by hand or draught animals that would have to be abandoned. Radio communications would soon become redundant due to the lack of electricity in the Roman world. Simply put, the marines technology would be a temporary god level buff however when that wore off, they would be fucked.



TLDR: the marines would have to instigate a blitzkrieg in order to be victorious otherwise the Roman Empire would win through attrition.
52844 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
100 / M
Offline
Posted 5/17/16

bufoman wrote:

Have you ever read, Lest Darkness Fall by L.Sprague de Camp?
https://www.scribd.com/doc/8651639/L-Sprague-de-Camp-Lest-Darkness-Fall
A single historian stops the fall of the Empire! It has him introducing some "modern" tech such as distilling and the printing press.


Interesting, Thank you for sharing that.
804 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
Offline
Posted 5/17/16
The Romans' intimidation tactics would, quite frankly, be turned on their heads. As long as munitions and fuel are conserved, it would probably only require a few encounters for the Marines to have the Roman army at their feet. They don't have to fight them head on. If they stay in one place and are surrounded, that is when you decide to use some fuel and break through with your tanks. But they had better hope that someone is good at picking up languages; they will need to pick up some allies in the long run.
28224 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
Offline
Posted 5/17/16 , edited 5/17/16

Ranwolf wrote:

I don't mean to sound overly critical of the USMC but calling them highly trained is a bit much. From what I've seen of them they lack operational discipline and frankly a shockingly high number of friendly fire incidents. So much so they call it friendly fucking for crying out loud.

And let's face it the Americans have never been good at handling being surrounded and outnumbered. Most of the major American victories in history have happened when they either a) had a clear numerical superiority or b) a clear logistical superiority. And usually both most of the time.

Then there is the sheer language barrier . Even if the this MEU felt like recruiting locals or hiring mercenaries I doubt they could. Mainly since few people in the modern world speak either Latin or Ancient Greek well enough to hold a conversation. Let alone discussing the intricacies of military training and strategy.



Yeah, I'm with Ran on this one. Though with slightly more polite language. Marines are not the most "highly trained warriors in the world".

There would be short term devastation but long term not a chance. Possibly not even mid term. The greatest advantage marines would have is technological but that technology is critically dependent on supply lines. Their fuel, ammunition, food, etc would run out pretty quick. They would have no logistical support, no accurate maps, etc. They wouldn't be able to speak the local languages and certainly don't have any local currencies. They wouldn't have much with them they could feasibly barter with either even if they did speak the language. And even if you spoke the language, you have a different system of numbers and math to contend with as well.

Then there's the matter of sanitation and disease. The landscape of communicable diseases was quite a bit different back then. You'd better hope all your shots are up to date and you got a full bevy of traveler's vaccines before you left.

So, short term sure if they immediately found themselves engaged with a Roman legion the moment they arrived they would cause a lot of damage. Mid term they would have great difficulty with supplies and logistics. Long term any survivors would probably shit themselves to death in an olive field.

I mean, once the bang bang toys run out Marines aren't really equipped to fight a shield wall hand to hand. Melee CQC is a back up plan for the modern soldier, not the chief means of combat. You've got a knife and probably a trench shovel. Fighting against a guy thats basically holding a riot shield and a harpoon. Inevitably you would probably switch to the weapons of the time. Then you're just hoping you can use them better than the people that made them.

But at that point you're on their terms fighting with their weapons. Sure, guerrilla tactics could carry you for a bit but then you're just an annoyance, not a threat. Romans weren't idiots and they placed great emphasis on defense in terms of their military camps, etc. You're not going to sneak in Rambo style and knife them all in their sleep.

Guerrilla tactics rely on knowledge of terrain though as well as having applicable terrain around to begin with. Trying to sneak up on a dude with a knife isn't going to get you too far if you get run down by cavalry in the open a few minutes later.


8603 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
17 / F
Offline
Posted 5/17/16 , edited 5/17/16
You're really passionate about Rome. I love it

EDIT:

btw Highlander is a great movie, everybody watch it
14749 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
Offline
Posted 5/17/16 , edited 5/17/16

-Dattebayo wrote:
btw Highlander is a great movie, everybody watch it


(Uh he's not talking about the first Russel Mulcahy movie with the Queen soundtrack, he's talking about the knockoff direct-video animated movie that they probably watched in his country but nobody saw over here.
Because it's....pretty much all he ever talks about, even when nobody else in the room brought it up.

On a related note, hey, how about that Animatrix, huh?)
First  Prev  1  2  3  4  5  6  Next  Last
You must be logged in to post.