SSG Briceida Casas
Senior Leader Course 16-006
SFC Chase Tippets
The ancient battle of Thermopylae has been retold numerous times and famously depicted on screen as a heroic and tragic Greek battle. The legendary Spartan King, Leonidas and his 300 formidable royal body guards led a coalition of Greek warriors against a much larger opponent, the Persian King Xerxes. Against the odds, the Greeks stood their ground and deterred Xerxes Army for 3 days at the Thermopylae pass, known as the Hot Gates. Xerxes might have won a tactical battle, however, the Spartans proved that superior training, equipment, and intimate familiarity with the terrain were critical force multipliers. The Spartan power, will and perseverance came from an undying sense of patriotism and duty. 300 Spartans and countless Greeks may have lost their lives at the Thermopylae pass but their courage rallied the Greek states to fight and prevail against a tyrant. The in-depth preparation, tactical expertise, the loyalty and courage these warriors displayed are the defining factors that made this battle a strategic win for the Greeks.
Persia, under King Darius’ rule expanded its level of influence into Western Europe with hopes of conquering Athens, Greece between 522-486 B.C. Attempting to, “quell once and for all a collection of potentially troublesome rebel states,” Darius desire to conquer Greece would ultimately lead to one of the most influential battles of ancient history. (Cartwright, 2013) Upon Darius’ death in 486 B.C., Xerxes became King of the Persian Empire and relentlessly focused his efforts to mobilize his army and conquer Greece.
Unwilling to submit to Xerxes, the Spartan King, Leoni...
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...Force did not guarantee loyalty to the Persian King. The Persian army was not prepared nor willing to die for their King’s fixation, while the Greeks were enthusiastic to fight and die for the protection and freedom of their nation state.
Leonidas handpicked the elite 300 Spartans who would follow him to battle. This calculated “selection of an all-fathers unit of Spartans might similarly have served a psychological purpose” increasing the motivation and morale of the Spartan his warriors (Strauss, 2006). Throughout the battle, Spartans made effective use of the small pass, coupled with a man-made wall, to efficiently restrain the invading Persian army. Unable to navigate a large offensive assault force, the Persian assault was initially rendered ineffective. Limited to close quarter combat, the Persians were no match for the Spartans tactical combat superiority.
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