Could a Single Marine Unit Destroy the Roman Empire? - RC Groups
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Nov 03, 2011, 01:13 AM
Alarm Bells Softening!
Big Foot 48's Avatar

Could a Single Marine Unit Destroy the Roman Empire?

Time travel history military knowledge thought exercise for the day. Somebody is making a movie!

"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."
James Erwin was browsing 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. ................
Nov 03, 2011, 02:53 AM
Suspended Account
No. The marines could get to the top of any hill, but they would run out of food while they waited for the Romans to fight them.
Nov 03, 2011, 03:09 AM
sensitive artsy type
Treetop's Avatar
Interesting video that actually debunks the long held idea that Polish Cavalry attacked German tanks in WWII. Interesting none the less....

Greatest Misconception 17: Polish Cavalry Charged German Tanks (2 min 20 sec)
Nov 03, 2011, 03:13 AM
Tu ne cede malis
MtnGoat's Avatar
I think it's an interesting idea for a movie. that said I doubt the outcome is cut and dried. yes modern marines are an amazing storehouse of experience and voluminous tactical and historical knowledge. And modern hardware is very, very lethal.

The thing is..Romans at their peak were no slouchs. Good commanders throughout history have solved tactical problems of major and unusual assymetries. The Romans were hardened, brave, and experienced fighters in the most brutal form of warfare, nearly all hand to hand close in fighting. Humans have always been exceedingly wily and fast learning in these situations, and I think it would be a mistake to assume hardware outweighs wetware.
Nov 03, 2011, 03:22 AM
Retired foamfanatic
Shuffle's Avatar
Any lethal weaponry would run out it"s ammo sooner or later anyway. More likely sooner, if surrounded by 100 000 Romans and using rapid continous fire.
If these troopers would be packed with endless amount of ammo, then to be fair they should be faced with endless amount of Romans too.
Nov 03, 2011, 03:34 AM
Registered User
I reckon boiling oil would be an attention grabber just the same today..................
Nov 03, 2011, 08:05 AM
Real Time Recon
realtimerecon's Avatar
Will the Marines bring along ? >>>
I doubt the Romans would have a chance.They would be toooo busy cleaning their shorts
Nov 03, 2011, 09:47 AM
Useful Idiot
He chose the best scanario. Rome itself was possibly a softer target than many of the outlying provinces. Even so they'd be vastly outnumbered, although the elite Praetorian Guard stationed in Rome at the time only numbered about 5,000 in total, and would want to avoid direct confrontations. They could probably arrange a bit of "shock and awe" to be seen as the work of the gods. Nevertheless, its effect could be greater if there were any Latin/classical Greek speakers among the ranks.
Nov 03, 2011, 09:52 AM
Park_Flyer's Avatar
If that happened, we'd all be speaking "grunt" today
Nov 03, 2011, 09:59 AM
BE77 Pilot's Avatar
It is possible they would be considered Gods and all of Rome would bow to their awesomeness.
Nov 03, 2011, 10:09 AM
Registered User
I'd have a little talk with Augustus. I'd say: Caesar my boy, we got a problem. I say we surrender and work with them. Heck, there's only 2200. We'll split-um up, weaken-um with wine and women and have them battling in the coliseum by the end of the year.
Nov 03, 2011, 10:11 AM
Random Pic #23982
Indiana_Geoff's Avatar
It would come down to the Marine leader. If he divided his marines up into elite units that led indigenous forces they would be unstoppable.

Enemies of Rome would flock to them. The spoils of war would attract as large a force as the marines could desire. They could back these up with a hard hitting mobile, modern shock force. Better communications would make sure that the tip of the spear was exactly were it needed to be.

Heck, if the marines inspired a Roman slave riot, it would be over in a week.

After that, the only problem would be sieges. If the marines could quickly break fortified cities, then Rome would not stand a chance.

If it was 2000 alone vs Rome... Rome would win.
Nov 03, 2011, 10:16 AM
BE77 Pilot's Avatar
Are the Marines carrying tactical nukes?
Nov 03, 2011, 10:22 AM
Random Pic #23982
Indiana_Geoff's Avatar
Imagine a marine led army of spearmen with a single sniper on a hilltop. Every Roman commander would be dead or hiding. Now you have a leaderless, demoralized roman force. You touch the standard, you are dead. You go to the 4th spot from the left in the front row, you are dead. If you run away and turn around, you are dead.

If you did stuff like that, the common soldier would learn it from others and morale would crumble when the first roman was dropped by a sniper. The roman army would refuse to fight in sight of a hill. Now you own all hilly terrain by fear alone.

The key would be to fire as few shots as possible for maximum effect.

There is a book about the civil war where AK47's are provided to the Southern Army. After seeing it Lee asks (I paraphrase)...

How many AK's can I get.
Well, if I get just a few, then I will give them to my body guards and put one with each artillery unit to protect the.
If I get more then I'll give them to Calvary units.
If I get even more I'll give them to special infantry units attached to each company.

This is the sort of decision one would need to make to win.
Nov 03, 2011, 10:24 AM
Alarm Bells Softening!
Big Foot 48's Avatar
If the Marines had gone "green" as some in Congress and elsewhere have been pushing it would be a big advantage after the trip back in time. They could appropriate cooking oil from the natives to keep the M1s running, and have the solar panels to keep the radios and lights (how scary would they be to the Romans?) running.

If they had time to set up a biodiesel refinery they could keep the vehicles running which themselves could be used as weapons to run down the Romans.

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