Tag Archives: military

Don’t Dine in Hell Like the 300 Spartans

Nothing against anybody who likes to compare their business to the Spartans, but if you do be aware that you might have the unfortunate problem of having an educated person at your company.

Leonidas is guest of the devil

Recently, during a company meeting where I work, the movie 300 was brought up. The question was asked, “Does anybody know why the Spartans were so successful [at the Battle of Thermopylae]?”

So I raised my hand and responded, “Well, to start with the Spartans were a warrior society. Their soldiers were trained to fight almost from birth. Secondly, they chose a location that gave them a significant tactical advantage.”

Somebody else piped up and said, “And they were all slaughtered in the end,” which becomes significant later on.

The response was, “Okaaay…” That is to say, not the answer they were looking for. Another person spoke up and said something about the phalanx formation and how each hoplite was responsible for protecting the soldier to his left. Of course, he didn’t use the words “phalanx” and “hoplite” because the only thing he knew about military strategy of the time is what he saw in the movie 300.

Nonetheless, he received a “Yes! Teamwork!” And that’s what they were looking for.

“Cool,” I thought to myself, as I realized I was probably the only person in the room that had any actual military experience. Teamwork is, indeed, a huge part of any military unit and mission.

I worked late that night. I left at 8:00 so I could tuck my kids in before they fell asleep. Then worked at home until 10:00. We are so crazy busy (in a good way), “teamwork” in my department means working your ass off… or on, as the case may be, since you rarely get to leave you chair.

Anyway, I went to bed that night and for some reason unknown to me I woke up at 2:30 in the morning. My heart was pumping hard and I had difficulty falling back asleep. But during my half-dazed waking period, I thought about the Spartans.

The Spartans certainly worked together as a team. But so did the Persians. It’s possible that the 300 Spartans worked together better. But so did the South during the Civil War. The South had better officers, better tacticians, and better overall technology. So why did the South lose? Numbers. Pure and simple.

Spartans kicked ass!The Persians also had numbers. Huge numbers. Nobody knows for sure how many were at the Battle of Thermopylae, but estimates at the low end say 80,000 while Herodotus reported over 5 million. Either way the Greeks, with an estimated 6,000 total, were heavily outnumbered. The only way the Greeks were able to hold the Persians was with a very strong tactical advantage, that being the narrow corridor the Persians were forced to fight within, thereby limiting the number of Persians that were able to attack at any given time with the only option being a frontal assault.

The Greeks, Spartans in particular, had better training, better armor, better weapons, and better leadership. In a face to face match, the Persians didn’t stand a chance. But once the Greeks lost their tactical advantage, the battle became quickly lopsided.

A man named Ephialtes (which today is Greek for “Benedict Arnold”) informed Xerxes, the Persian king, of a path around the mountain. Tactical advantage gone, the Greeks were quickly done away with.

But it was what I thought about next that caused me to laugh in my daze. It wasn’t really funny, but in my half-conscious state, it was. The Spartans were a military might for centuries; one of the most feared armies of the world. But all things must come to an end.

As military technology and tactics began to change, the Spartans — so confident in their phalanx strategy (which they had formed their entire society around) — failed to adapt to changing conditions and thus lost the advantage of having the world’s strongest military. And, as a coworker of mine so eloquently stated, “They were all slaughtered in the end.”

Bringing that over to the corporate world, one could say that sitting on your laurels is a bad thing. Don’t forget the lesson of the Spartans. Dining in Hell makes for great stories to your grandkids, but is bad for business.

I eventually fell asleep again, probably with some crazed smile on my face.

Without These Brave Souls, We Wouldn’t Be Here

Honoring U.S. Military VeteransIt’s Veteran’s Day people. There are some Americans out there who would spit on the graves of every Soldier, Marine, and Sailor who died during the American Revolution. Don’t you dare come around my place. Not today.

Because this day and days like it, my tolerance is extremely low for your kind. Every other day, I’ll let you have the freedom that all those Soldiers, Marines, Sailors (including Coast Guardsmen), and Airmen died for to ensure your right to hate them.

And even though it’s my right to hate your guts for it, I won’t… except for today. Also this day. And this one.

But today, let us remember those who have “returned to headquarters” and honor those who still remain on “active duty.”

Trust me, you don’t want these battle-hardened men to come around and kick your butt for dishonoring their buddies.

Belated Memorial Day Post

I’m a bit embarrassed that I forgot to blog about Memorial Day. No, let me say that I am ashamed. I took advantage of the day off from work to play some poker and didn’t bother paying homage to those unto whom I am so indebted that I could never possibly repay them.

Rather than rant at length about this nation’s haters — especially the domestic ones — I’ll simply refer you to my previous year’s post on this subject and repeat these lines from it:

A true soldier serves to honor himself in the service of his country, and respects his enemy for doing the same. And when he kills his enemy counterpart, he remembers to respect the enemy soldier for his bravery, courage, and willingness to sacrifice in a time when the willing are so few.

So this Memorial Day I call upon all Americans to take a few moments to remember our fallen who served with courage, distinction, and most importantly honor. May God forever bless you for your service. I shall always remember your sacrifice.

Missing Man Formation

This Missing Man Formation is an aerial salute in which four planes fly in formation. One plane breaks formation by going vertical, representing that not everyone made it home. It is a salute to those who fell.

The plane goes vertical, heading towards heaven, because to die in the service is to die with honor and in my book, that gets you an automatic ticket into heaven.

And when he goes to heaven
To St. Peter he will tell
Another Marine reporting, Sir
I’ve served my time in hell