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Alexander the Great War Tactics Essay

Related Topics: Military War Army Persian Empire

Pages:6 (1804 words)



Topic:Alexander The Great

Document Type:Essay



While today’s wars tactics involved precision-guided missiles and missile defense shields, the armies of ancient times relied upon cruder and simpler weapons, such as sticks and stones, to make war. However, one thing that has not changed over the course of history is that war is about resources and the victor is the one who adapts to the times and to the environment as well as the one who has the most friends. Born in 356 BC, Alexander the Great modernized and revolutionized war by showing what it meant to assess the environment, adapt, and strike. This paper will discuss the tactics Alexander used, what knowledge he inherited from his father, how he influenced Kamehameha, and how his use of tactics was on full display in the Battle of Gaugemela.

Tactics Alexander Used

When Alexander’s father Philip II died, he left the Macedonian army in the hands of the young man. Alexander quickly reorganized the army and incorporated the latest innovative technology available—siege machinery (Hughes, 2018). From a tactical vantage, Alexander saw siege warfare as the next necessary step in combat because it empowered him to assault formidable defenses. Whereas ladders were the primary instrument of soldiers tasked with assaulting small towns and villages with only minor defenses, something like siege machinery was necessary to batter the walls and defenses of more fortified cities.

Thus, Alexander relied upon the genius of Diades, his chief engineer (Hughes, 2018). Diades evolved the borer with his trupanon borer (a large wooden beam with a metal head), by protecting it within a wooden shell, called a tortoise, and by increasing its power and destructive force with the use of ropes and pulleys. The trupanon borer was used to destroy large enemy defenses and was part of the collection of siege machinery (Hughes, 2018).

Another siege engine was the epibathra—the drawbridge used to cross from siege tower or ship. Alexander also used ditch-filling tortoises, rams and siege towers—a new version of which was designed on a timber chassis. This was the Helepolis and was a terrifying sight for those defending their ramparts because it toward above them and was basically a moving, fortress with men inside ready to leap over the walls and take over the interior.

Alexander also made use of stone throwers—the lithoboloi and petroboloi—used at the sieges of Halicarnassus and Tyre. He also used arrow-firing torsion catapults to cover his soldiers on the ground. Best of all, all these tools were portable, which gave Alexander great advantage. Combined with his foot companions and the phalanx formation that Alexander used, these weapons and war machines made Alexander’s Macedonian army an incomparable force to reckon with (Hughes, 2018).

What Alexander Inherited from His Father

Aside from the foot companions and some of the base model siege machines and artillery, Alexander inherited a disciplined military from his father. It was Philip II who trained the men to be the best in the world, capable of taking on the Persians. As Roos (2019) points out, “Philip II left Alexander the Great a fierce army.” Philip II made the army the most important aspect of Macedonian society. Everything became centered around the military. He focused on raising the best soldiers by training an elite group of archers, javelin throwers, infantry and cavalry (Roos, 2019). Soldiers started training from the best families at the age of 7—so basically as children they were taught to be soldiers in the military. It was similar to today’s elite cadet families in the West. The Royal foot companions were Philip’s idea as were…

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…it caused the Persians to open a gap where they were vulnerable. Alexander did this by sending his phalanx to attack on the left while he rode to the flanking position on the right, drawing the Persians to him and making Darius vulnerable. It was then that the Macedonians had to attack at the right moment with speed. Their superior training and weapons helped them achieve the victory and here and Alexander’s daring and ability to make quick decisions no matter the environment was a huge advantage over the sedentary enemy that was reacting rather than being proactive in the battle (Classics Dissertation, n.d.).


Some tactics of the high school generation that could be used in solving wars and differences with their knowledge and resources would be to focus on using the tools they have available to them and leveraging their strengths. What are the strengths of the high school generation? One is going to be their command over technology. They have grown up as digital natives (Prensky, 2001). They are familiar with communications technology, such as social media, and are capable of sharing and disseminating information instantly. They can develop networks of contacts, which is just as valuable as any phalanx of Alexander in today’s digital age, for the phalanx of social media networked followers is strong, lightning fast and capable of delivering blows to an enemy’s credibility in an instant. Uprisings have been conducted thanks to social media, like the Arab Spring in the Middle East, and social media has been a huge tool in events like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. The high school generation can use the tactics of communication, integration and collaboration to solve differences and to gain advantages over enemies. Those who control the information are the ones who have…

Sample Source(s) Used


Archeology. (2013). Kamehameha. Retrieved from

Classics Dissertation. (n.d.). The Military Revolution: What were Philip II’s Reforms of the Macedonian Military and how Revolutionary were they? Retrieved from

Hughes, T. (2018). Was Alexander’s army destined to conquer? Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the horizon, 9(5), 1-6.

Roos, D. (2019). How Alexander the Great Conquered the Persian Empire. Retrieved from

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