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Thread: What if? Roman Army vs. USMC MEU

  1. #16
    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    The marines will spread the technology around?

    If not it will all be over in 20 years
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  2. #17
    Senior Contributor 1979's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mihais View Post
    Numbers don't matter.Know how does.You have a few engineers and tens of thousands of slaves.
    You have no need to drill during that age.Oil just popped at the surface.Even if you need to,the basic knowldege existed to make the pipes,locations etc..
    ohh,and I forgot something also in reach for the ancient world(had they thought about it):electricity.
    shallow pits do not cut it, the amount is to small .
    In the first year of modern drilling (1830's ) we extracted about 275 tons, after you finish braking into fractions you end up with something around 100 tons fuel .
    J'ai en marre.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mihais View Post
    Numbers don't matter.Know how does.You have a few engineers and tens of thousands of slaves.
    You have no need to drill during that age.Oil just popped at the surface.Even if you need to,the basic knowldege existed to make the pipes,locations etc..
    ohh,and I forgot something also in reach for the ancient world(had they thought about it):electricity.
    The engineers don't know how to distill that oil.... However if the vehicles are multi-fuel ethanol is readily available. Where the marines have a disadvantage is at night and up close and personal. Once the NVG batteries are gone, they are gone. Ditto for the bullets and shells.

    Blackpowder won't work in modern firearms- too dirty of an energy source.

    Once the NVG's are toast the Romans have better natural abilities at night, they did not grow up in a world dominated by the sounds of industry and soaked in light pollution, they are closer to being in a natural balance with human evolution. The average legionnaire is likely as good at seeing and hearing in the dark as a marine sniper.

  4. #19
    Senior Contributor 1979's Avatar
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    would they not have inverters or something to recharge them from a truck or apc ?
    J'ai en marre.

  5. #20
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    Guys,unless said marines aren't the personification of the jokes about americans incapable of surviving without McDonalds,there's no way they can lose.By themselves,a ton of items and knowledge they have(or should have) are war winning.Combined,they're godlike.They have the entire industrial revolution behind them.And even if the only books they have are the gazillion of field manuals on a laptop,it's still more than enough.If the Marines march to a city like Alxandria or antioch(or whatever reasonably developed city) they can take it and hold it.By the time the empire realizes they lost the city the Marines already have the industrial revolution under way.By the time a major Roman army arrives,the marines have a few thousands muskets with Minie bullets.
    Without doing much they have a few hundreds thousands rounds issued with wich they can defeat all the Roman armies that ever lived using skirmisher tactics.Kill all the officers and 25% of the men and the rest will run.

    btw,ancient armies rarely fought at night.There were some that were good at,but generally it was chaos waiting to happen.All you need to defeat the natural ability at night of the Romans are shovels and torches.And 4 Gribeauval cannons with flechettes,if we're really choosy.
    Those who know don't speak
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  6. #21
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    I will get into the spirit of this thing...

    The resupply factor is critical. Romans are not stupid, and after a few sharp encounters, they will realize that those pretty brass things on the ground each represent one discharge, and they will realize the M-16A2's probably are not infinitely repeating. The possibility then exists for a costly but ultimately effective war of attrition. Rome has millions of slaves, each of whom could be forced to carry a javelin and then soak up a bullet.

    As the Marine commander, the only hope of success is political. I'd carve out a modest kingdom in Northern Rome with an ocean access, with a minimum of ordnance expended. Entrench. Carefully husband resources not renewable. Use them as needed to defend. Then, it's time to send out feelers for alliances and treaties while I still have the technological upper hand.

    Once my kingdom is established, preferably with a gaggle of lovely slaves tending my vinyards, it's time to use my 21st century knowledge. Rome can work bronze and iron. These = cannon. Black powder is a snap. The recipe for black powder would be a State secret on par with today's nuclear secrets. With allies, black powder, cannon and mortars, I could then choose to foray and conquer, or I could (preferably) live in peace, with each of my boys owning a vinyard or farm.

  7. #22

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    There's a lot of institutional knowledge available in that MEU. Additionally there's a lot of accrued knowledge readily available. Imperative that leaders, without regard for rank, seek out everything everybody knows. Electrical power to run P.C.s and other devices would be critical and your mechanics and more will have to begin designing crude batteries that can store such. When I think of a MEU I wonder how much of the ship's stores were transported to ground before everything was teleported back 21 centuries or so. There's clearly a LOT of onboard fuel, batteries and ammo to replenish those forces from these vessels. Finally, do they have an air component that's made it into the past?

    One fly-by over Rome and I suspect all will bow to the Gods.
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  8. #23
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    If you piss the Romans so bad... I guess they can poison your water supplies

    You know, just to check their divine nature
    Last edited by Doktor; 18 Jan 12, at 16:52.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

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  9. #24
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    Electricity is a snap. Every vehicle has an alternator or generator. Hook these up to the legs of any handy slave, crank out current. Your batteries are then recharged.

    Eventually, the batteries themselves will die. At that point, you'd need some talented troops who understand lead-acid technology to make some more. The acid would be the tricky part. Lead, of course, was everywhere in Rome.

    In Rome, you'd have copper (make wire), lead, bronze, iron. Add good magnets, you have generators. Rome had the technology to allow the MEU to kick-start a modest industrial revolution, but the key would be peace. That is why I believe the Marines must entrench and then ally. It'll take a few years to get the basics going, and this also requires some peace and stability. A Guerilla war would prevent this.

    If the Marines get greedy and stupid, they will lose.

  10. #25
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    if you have read SM Stirling's "Island on the Sea of Time", you'll see that it is not very difficult to "tech up" to late-19th century levels.

    afterwards it becomes a lot harder without the requisite 20th-century population to sustain the specialized technologies/economy.

    a MEU would have the added benefit of generally being easier to command than a bunch of crotchety Nantucketers; there's a LOT more resources going around so it'd actually be even easier for the MEU to tech up to replicable late-19th century technologies.

    it took the Nantucketers about 3-5 years to get their first repeating rifle; in this scenario it'd probably take the MEU less than a year, with the main LIMFAC being gunpowder.

    i'd do as chogy does; find a relatively empty space in northern italy/southern france and expand north, taking in gauls slowly as you do so. most likely the diseases will kill a significant portion of both the gauls and the romans, anyway. then grab both sides of the straits of gibralter.

    the difference between this and the nantucket scenario is that the romans are far more sophisticated, both technologically and culturally, than any of the bronze age folks the nantucketers meet. you can guard the secret to gunpowder well but i'm pretty sure within a decade the rudiments would be out-- there's sure to be unscrupulous folk, or inattentive folk, leaking the information.

    still, rudimentary gunpowder against clean gunpowder repeaters with M16s acting as the "maxim guns"...and real artillery if sh*t really hits the fan...no big whoop.

    with careful maintenance most of the modern technology can be made to last for a generation, maybe even two (doubtful though). that's more than enough time to get a rudimentary state up and running. given ship and communication technology, within a generation the MEU descendants could easily grab earth's best spots for themselves.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mihais View Post
    By the time a major Roman army arrives,the marines have a few thousands muskets with Minie bullets.
    Without doing much they have a few hundreds thousands rounds issued with wich they can defeat all the Roman armies that ever lived using skirmisher tactics.
    Pst don't tell anyone, but with some ammonium nitrate (azot ) and sodium hydroxide (soda caustica) the saltpeter problem is pretty much solved.
    J'ai en marre.

  12. #27
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    given ship and communication technology, within a generation the MEU descendants could easily grab earth's best spots for themselves.
    Hawaii?

    Press on to the New World, now you've got American Natives to deal with, and they were true guerilla warriors who could attrit you despite your technology. I think I'd hang out in the Med. That was the center of the world at the time, with a delightful climate, easy trading partners, and known civilizations that have the acumen to ally with you.

    I enjoy Stirling's work, it's good stuff.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1979 View Post
    Pst don't tell anyone, but with some ammonium nitrate (azot ) and sodium hydroxide (soda caustica) the saltpeter problem is pretty much solved.
    A good chemist would be one of the most valuable personnel you'd have. Smokeless powder as well is not that far away. Nitric acid and sulphuric acid, plus cellulose. Cotton. Guncotton also makes handy filler for mortar shells and the like, with the only drawback being a limited shelf life and sensitivity to heat.

    The MEU would also bring with it modern notions of hygiene, healthcare, and medicines, although actually making medicines would be exceptionally difficult. The corpsman/doctor would be like the chemist; a State treasure and closely guarded. Both would immediately need to be assigned disciples/novices who would learn and also record all the knowledge in the man's brain. Without scribes and effort, massive amounts of 21st century knowledge would be lost with every KIA, and within a generation or two, without care, much would be irretrievably lost.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshduck541 View Post
    I recently read this article, and scanned through some of the original reddit threads on the matter, and naturally had to ask the esteemed members of the board this question:

    What would be the result if a (single!) USMC MEU were to somehow be transported into ancient Italy around 33 B.C.E, and suddenly got the inkling to take on the entire Roman army, with the eventual goal of capturing Rome itself?

    Keep in mind:

    - The marines are unable to be resupplied. So fuel, ammunition, and spare parts are finite. Once they run out, they're gone forever. They can live off the land, however.

    - The marines' terrain maps are useless due to the reversal of 2,000+ years of geographic evolution. (No GPS either, obviously.)

    - On the plus side, not only do the marines retain all of their training, but they also retain all of the knowledge and information available to them right now. (Personally, I would consider this their biggest advantage.)


    So, with those caveats mentioned, how would your scenarios play out?

    Have at it, Wabbits!


    Here's the link to the original article, for those interested in a little more background:
    Rome, Sweet Rome: Could a Single Marine Unit Destroy the Roman Empire? - Popular Mechanics

    Link to the initial reddit thread:
    reddit is offline in protest of PIPA and SOPA
    If I am getting a FULL MEU then yes, I believe an MEU can take on and defeat the Roman Empire or at least take out Rome and hold it.

    8 M1A1 main battle tank
    16 Light Armored Vehicle
    16 Amphibious Assault Vehicle
    6 155mm howitzer: M198 or M777
    8 M252 81mm mortar
    8 BGM-71 (TOW) missile weapon system
    8 FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile
    6 AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters
    4 UH-1N Twin Huey utility helicopter
    12 CH-46E Sea Knight medium lift assault helicopter
    4 CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift assault helicopter
    6 AV-8B Harrier jet
    2 KC-130 Hercules re-fueler/transport aircraft
    2 Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit
    1 LMT 3000 water purification unit
    4 Tractor, Rubber Tire, Articulated Steering
    2 TX51-19M Rough Terrain Forklift logistics
    4 D7 bulldozer
    1 Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement dump truck
    4 Mk48 Logistics Vehicle System
    8 500 gallon water containers
    64 Humvee
    30 Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements
    1 LHA Tarawa Class AAS (full compliment)

    I'll take the MEU. Thank you and have a nice day

  15. #30
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    and some 20 tons of fuel per day.
    J'ai en marre.

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