Marius and the Modern Army

My favorite general, Gaius Marius, is the man that created the first standing army. Until he reformed it, the Roman army had been composed only of landed men, the idea being that those who owned something worth defending would be more likely to fight to preserve it, and so be better soldiers. They also had to provide their own weapons.

One problem was that men fought longer campaigns, further from home, failed to plough their fields, and returned to find that they had been dispossessed of their lands. At the same time there had been an increase in the number of landless poor, the proletariat, who were not allowed to serve. Marius reversed the problem by creating the first professional army - he hired the poor, provided arms and armour, and paid them a wage. In this way not only did he create an alternative to urban poverty - the ancient equivalent of the projects - by providing employment, but he also formed the first professional army, which in turn allowed for the expansion of Roman influence and the creation of the Roman Empire.

Anyone who has seen 'Fahrenheit 9/11' knows that much of the US army is recruited along the Marian model, from the urban poor - Michael Moore tries to make this a political point, but it has always been a reality.

Marius paid his men a daily wage, shared booty with them, and found them land to settle at the end of their service - he was the very epitome of a good general, and he cared for his men. He looked after his soldiers, and they in turn were loyal to him when Sulla attacked the Roman Republic and marched on Rome.

It's nice to see that the British Army has its own Marius, looking after his men - Richard Dannatt Magnus. The good general's Wiki page shows that he is not scared of speaking his mind. And the fact that people who give out parking tickets are paid more than the good men and women prepared to risk their lives for their country is one that is well worth making. My Marius would have approved.

Army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt in soldiers' pay row -
The Telegraph:
General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army, has called for a pay rise for soldiers after discovering traffic wardens get paid more than those on the frontline.

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