The Roman Empire

From Fortified Camps to Fortified Frontiers

By J.E. & H.W. Kaufmann

At the beginning of the 3rd century AD,

the Roman Empire spread across Western Europe, North Africa, the Balkans and parts of the Middle East. The strategic weapon that enabled those conquests was the Romans’ ability to build all-weather roads. The legions could rush to any threatened area along the road system. The enemy could not use the roads as effectively because Roman-controlled towns and cities blocked them.

Wherever Roman legions went, roads followed. Using the road system became a reward for those who chose to ally with Rome. So naturally, the roads ended where the conquests stopped. Once the empire went over to the strategic defense, starting around Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ death in AD 180, a need arose for permanent fortifications to prevent invaders from entering.

Read the Full Article in S&T 343

ST343: Operation Albion

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  • Operation Albion & The Baltic Campaigns: 1917–18 In 1917 there were two Russian Revolutions. The first overthrew the Romanov dynasty, and the second put the Bolsheviks in power. That same year the Germans launched an offensive on land that captured Riga, and followed that up with an amphibious invasion of strategic islands in the Baltic Sea—Operation Albion.
  • The Roman Empire: From Fortified Camps to Fortified Frontiers Every century or so, the Roman Army underwent significant transformations that affected strategy and the role of fortifications. Until the time of Marcus Aurelius, their overarching strategy was conquest. After that, fortifications became necessary to hold the frontier as the empire fell back along the Danube and Rhine Rivers.
  • Task Force Faith: Unprepared, Unsupported & Abandoned In the wake of one of the worst intelligence and command failures in the history of American arms, a disorganized and understrength regiment of US soldiers—Task Force Faith—was abandoned on the east shore of Chosin Reservoir in North Korea late in 1950. They were sacrificed due to the haste and hubris of top US military commanders.
  • Russo-Turkish War: the Caucasus 1806–12 While the main theater of operations in the Russo-Turkish War of 1806–12 was in Europe—primarily in today’s Romania and eastern Bulgaria—fighting also took place in the Caucasus. There the two countries shared a border due to Russia’s gradual southward advance into territory subjugated by the Ottomans in previous centuries.

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