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October 09, 2001
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Organizing Effective Forces And Patrols

by Col. Rex Applegate
excerpts from his book, "Riot Control"

"Over 2.000 years ago, Alexander the Great defeated Darius, the King of the Persians, in one of history’s first recorded major battles (the Battle of Issues, 333 B.C.). Alexander, with a force of 30,000 well trained and disciplined men, defeated those of Darius, numbering, according to historians, over 600,000. The secret of Alexander’s success was his use of trained, disciplined battle formations based around what became known as the Macedonian Phalanx. The phalanx consisted of massed, small, well disciplined and trained infantry units, and maneuvering and executing all of the present day conventional types of military foot movements and formations, on command. They were screened by their flanks by cavalry and light bow and arrow armored infantry units.

The vast Persian horde charged the center of Alexander’s position in an irregular line without any unit formations, discipline, nor any kind of maneuver. Alexander was able to chop his enemy apart, piece by piece, while retaining the integrity of his phalanx formations. Darius was completely defeated and escaped with only about 4,000 of his original forces intact. Historians state that the undisciplined mass of the forces of Darius was so great, that not only were they unable to maneuver to counter Alexander’s tactics, but they were in such great numbers and so disorganized, that they hindered one another in their attempted movements during the heat of battle.

The present day formations used by the military and police are little different in tactical principle and employment from those of Alexander. This is the basic reason that small, disciplined police units, operating as a team, flexing to meeting changing situations, are able to disperse mobs greatly outnumbering them. It is interesting to note that modern riot forces are also equipped with shields, helmets, and body armor in much the same manner as the Macedonians, the only basic difference being in quality of a armor and the usage of firearms, long batons, and tear gas launching equipment in place of the spear, sling and bow and arrow. Furthermore, modern riot control formations are not assigned the mission of destroying an enemy, but mob dispersal.

By training, temperament, and profession, the police officer is individualistic. He operates alone, or usually, with another officer during most of his law enforcement career. Consequently, he has difficulty adjusting to teamwork operations such as riot control formations, tactics and maneuver, without specialized training. This training must be undertaken at regular intervals and practiced consistently to enable successful mob control tactics in the streets. Such training also results in good morale and aggressive, confident police performance."

Something Col Applegate didn’t mention but which must be noted, is that when Alexander first began amassing his recruits, there were blank stares on the faces of all the troops -they couldn’t understand each other. They spoke too many languages and dialects; communicating training instructions, commands, and field orders was impossible. Putting the recruits on hold, Alexander withdrew to his tent for a period of time, and created the most perfect language in all history-one so explicit, nothing could ever be misunderstood - "Koine" Greek! Emerging from his tent, this language was taught to everyone under his command, and Alexander's troops moved forward into history.


This article is reprinted with permission from Informed Source Newsletter at www.profiles-threat.com.

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