Alexander the Great: His Influence on Future military Leadership and Tactics

Great men have lived on the face of the earth and left marks of their prowess and legacy that men of the present and even the future find it hard to emulate; a good example of such men is Alexander the Great. This paper seeks to explain further Alexander’s military genius and its positive impact on military impact over the past centuries. The paper also gives a well thought analysis why Alexander was so much successful in his wars and conquests. His big empire spread all the way from Gibraltar to the Punjab and in his leadership made Greek the lingua franca of his new World (Cary, M, 1932).

His real name was Alexandros III Philippou Makedonon; he was also known as Alexander III but many have referred him as Alexander the Great in praise of his military conquest. In his dream to create a universal World Monarchy, he single handedly and his army conquered what was then the civilized World. He was born in July of 356 B.C. in Macedonia (Narain, A. K, 1965). He was the son of a king that is Philip II but later in life he said that his real father was Greek god Zeus which served to increase his popularity as a leader. One thing for sure is that Alexander the Great had the courage and determination to build a universal monarchy that would be the eye of many leaders during his time. During his young days Alexander lived in the palace of Aegae with his family and received good physical training from his tutors; he was also taught self control and discipline. These forms of training are vital in many military training even today and have impacted positively on the success of military endeavors. Aristotle was the last teacher of Alexander the Great. He was the famed pupil of Plato. At the age of 13 Alexander learned the fundamentals of rhetoric, philosophy and literature (Bowra, C. M, 1957). Alexander and Aristotle were close friends and it is during this time when Aristotle gave Alexander a copy of The Iliad which motivated Alexander and increased hid desire to conquer Persia.

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In later years Aristotle and Alexander differed on the issues of foreigners and were no longer best of friends. Aristotle saw foreigners as backward while Alexander was ready to mix the cultures of the people and lived with them without fear. Alexander was only 16 years old when his father went to Byzantium to fight rebels (Bosworth, A.B. & Baynham E.J, 2002). Alexander was left to rule in his father’s name at the time when his father was absent; fighting the rebels. This was the beginning of Alexander the Great’s Leadership at a tender age he could command armies. To be given such a responsibility in the young age meant that Alexander was qualified in war and in battles. This is clearly illustrated by the fact that Alexander never remained idle but instead took action against the Thracian tribe of Maedi that was planning a rebellion. Alexander took over their capital and created a new colony in that region (Behnke, A, 2007). At a tender age of 18 Alexander the Great commanded 235 men under his military leadership; this gave him the best training for his future. By beating the Maedi and establishing a colony Alexander had shown the initial signs of military and leadership characteristics to be used to establish a big empire.

After two years Alexander commanded military at cavalry at the fierce battle of Chaeronea lead by his father; this unit of Macedonia had become a fearsome unit; it was heavily armored and well disciplined and easily beat their enemies. Macedonian forces also included the Royal Army; Hyspaspists, this was an elite troop of mythical proportion (Engdahl, W, 2004). After the battle they returned home victoriously. Rumors spread out the king Phillip was unfaithful to his wife and after a heated debate between Alexander and his father Alexander left with his mother to hiding. This was the end of Philips ambitious plan of conquering two continents for he never left Macedonia for fear that his son will take over power from him. Now Alexander had developed into a fierce warrior and a military leader (Conroy, L.G, 2009). At the age of 20 Alexander assumed power after his father was assassinated. Alexander went to Corinth for the assembly of the Greek league and was named the supreme commander of all Greece. At that time the Thebans’ revolted; he destroyed everything in their city except the temples.

This served as a reminder to the other communities and tribes in Macedonia respected and honored Alexander. He proceeded to conquer the Asia Minor, and used his knowledge to plan and organize the army. During the Persian expedition Alexander had in his army more than 100 000 but only a few fought. Alexander honored veterans; he left them in charge of cities. He was a military genius and could change his army within seconds and used to make decisions as fast as possible. He could even change his plan of action if the enemy changed plans. To him it was not about numbers but leadership and plan in battle. The first commander to have backup reserves was Alexander; this affected the way wars were staged and fought in the coming years. Alexander defeated the Persians; he was an unwavering fighter and fought with his soldiers.

He conquered the Phoenician coast, Syria and Egypt (Louis, W. R, 1984). The battle of his life was when he crossed over to India near the Indus River. Despite the terrain Alexander’s leadership in the army produced victory and India became a part of Macedonian Dynasty. During Alexander’s tenure as the king of the empire he respected other people’s traditions and culture although this saw the spread of Greece culture and civilization in all places under his leadership. He opened closed territories and changed the way wars were fought and organized. He achieved universal tolerance for all religions in the World. The surrender of wild tribes of Persia opened new environment of peace and people could move without fear. He established cities and communication lines that linked different regions for trade (Mclean, D, 1979). Both leadership and warfare play a big role in the success of any war. Unlike supreme commander like Eisenhower, who learned the art of war from very humble beginning Alexander Learned the Art of war from his parents and Aristotle. The continued development of weapons of mass destruction was made to keep wars at bay but instead it has become a very big problem.

The future military leaders now can come from poor urban backgrounds or the rich quarters of our societies. Even with advanced technology without excellent leadership like that of Alexander wars will always be lost. This has led to many people researching intensively the heart of war from Alexander’s experience. Alexander waged psychological warfare against the Persians. He could keep the Persians waiting all night for him to attack and fail to do so; this art of waging psychological warfare is used even today (Sekunda, N, 1992). Young people were given training in military and Hellenistic culture; by doing this he improved the security of the empire. This is a practice that is used in many countries whereby young people attend compulsory military training to always be ready in case there is war. New farming methods were introduced in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Alexander devised new ways and roles to be played by the government in the military and in financial and civil administration. He was always ready to throw away those who were unsuccessful and incompetent. He introduced universal currency in Macedonia.

Exchange of ideas was made easier when Alexander introduced a one language and currency. His dream of ruling the World was not realized during his life but his ideals would live to be followed by many in military and also in governance (Zeman, Z. & Scharlau, W, 1965). It has been said without doubt that Alexander was the most successful of all warriors in his time; he was a general of classical era. His successes in battle has been researched and practiced by many military groups in the world. From the age of 16 until his death at 33 years Alexander the Great had never lost in battle. From this we can claim without any doubt that he had superior qualities in battle and since he was the commander and the leader many military men who have the zeal to excel like Alexander must do so by only emulating his example of making decisions very fast. He controlled a large empire; from Balkan to Northern India.

It is true from this story about Alexander that for any army to win it needs to be well trained and well co-coordinated hence good leadership which is disciplined like his men were. There is no way that we can win in battle if we are divided; united we stand and divided we fall seems to be the motto that Alexander used in his military duties. When an army is divided it becomes very hard to win because it means they refuse to take instructions and become cowards who can not win even a small battle. The issue of preparedness both with the tools of war and the manpower is also of great importance as far as military success is concerned. King Phillip who was Alexander’s father had spent so much in the army; Alexander also like his father strengthened his army for battle (Lonsdale, J. D, 2004). The companion cavalry had cohesive units which immediately responded to commands on the battle ground. Alexander modified the phalanx style of fighting of the Greek to come up with a super powerful unit; in modifying the fighting ways of the enemy force many military leaders have succeeded in their wars.

The army also utilized the use of siege weapons which had been well known before Alexander. These weapons were not used without care any time in the battle but during certain times depending on the order of the battle. The Macedonians fired both large arrows; these arrows could be aimed at one single man or used catapult that could release many stones at a time. Many armies around the world in the 20th Century utilized missiles like shrapnel containing multiple lead bullets. These weapons are capable killing or wounding many enemies at a time as compared to a single missile that hits one target at a time. This use of catapults on the field of battle by Alexander the Great is akin to the 20th Century assault artillery. The Macedonian army was the first army in the world to be scientifically organized like almost all the armies in the world today. The leadership portrayed by Alexander’s father was so good such that it is only Alexander could out perform him. Combined with the above improvements to military; Alexander used tactics in ensuring victory to his army.The use of more advanced war tactics can be traced to the times of Alexander the Great. The use of advanced tactics can also be traced in Alexander’s warfare; before any decision is made it is supposed to be well thought; any decision made can either break or make the troop (Cary, M, 1932).

The first well thought effective use of the conventional forces against enemies was the Alexander the Great’s Scythian war. In fact the Scythians were like terrorists in Afghanistan. To show that clear cut comparison these are some of the similarities: they had no fixed base, no clear organizational structure or hierarchy. Since the Persians had a hierarchy Alexander silenced them by attacking their leader; Darius (Engdahl, W, 2004). The above mentioned strengths allowed the Scythians to defeat all their enemies. Alexander came with a different approach; he new good tactics that are being used even today. He knew well that trapping the mobile enemy and forcing the enemy to engage would weaken the enemy so much. Since, it was quite unlikely for the Scythecians to fall to this trap he had to create a new solution.

The second way that Alexander came up with was to restrict the enemy in forces to reduce his mobility. To achieve the second way Alexander sent a quite small force of Calvary against his enemy. The Scythecians swam into action and with their sharp arrows engaged the small group. While that was happening he moved forward together with the larger army to trap them (Keegan, J, 2003). He further moved his remaining Calvary in three groups and managed to trap many of the enemies. This was the end of the Sycthecians; their tactics had been defeated by superior tactics of Alexander the Great. The war on terror in the current 21st century in Iraq and even in Afghanistan can never be worn without superior tactics. This has resulted to the soldiers studying Alexander the Great’s styles and tactics in the war (Cowley, R. & Parker, G, 2001).

The war In Iraq and Afghanistan has been fought using these tactics. Enemy forces were broken apart in large training camps. This was done with air power and missile launched in the camps. Furthermore, the attacks were made in fortifications to reduce the mobility of the enemies. The enemies were allowed to disperse in different directions hence weakening them. The same has been done in Iraq whereby the American soldiers aided by the Iraq forces have controlled the forming of these groups throughout the county (Behnke, A, 2007).

In conclusion Alexander has served the militaries which came after him with lessons and tactics that are used today by armies all over the World in dealing with crime and terrorism. The experiences learned from Alexander’s experiences remain even more vital in this terrorist error. Although, Alexander did live long his tactics and leadership qualities are still vivid in many peoples’ minds. Alexander still remains one of the best military leaders the World has ever produced and his skills and tactics are widely used by many military leaders and soldiers.

Moreover, these tactics have produced victory in many wars and battles the World over. Alexander the Great with his incredible victories did not realize his dream of having one World under one leader; he died at a young age. However, he came closer to achieving his golden dream than any other person in history did. The graves of the Macedonian soldiers and those of their enemies are the untold stories of these conquests (Dupuy, T, 1969).

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Alexander the Great: His Influence on Future military Leadership and Tactics. (2016, May 12). Retrieved from