This campaign can not be drawn as a victory for a handful of brave men over millions. On the contrary, Alexander's army was the most numerous and organized, which only the preceding ancient history knew. ” So wrote the Russian military theorist and historian A. A. Svechin about the Eastern Expedition of Alexander the Great. Just as then, the overwhelming superiority in organization, armament, equipment and tactics allowed the coalition forces of the West to suppress the resistance of not only obviously weak Taliban formations, but also the regular army of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in a matter of weeks.
Let the battle of Alexander learn strategists. But his fighters not only smashed the enemy in grand battles, but also carried out large-scale special operations against the distant ancestors of the present rebels and terrorists throughout the East. The methods of conducting all types of intelligence, counterintelligence, psychological warfare and special forces raids, first used by Alexander in the East, are still relevant, interesting and instructive for relevant experts in this field. Sources are stingy, but when you study them carefully you begin to understand - the victories of the great commander forged not only the legendary phalanx and the deadly cavalry.
It would be naive to think that the Eastern campaign was not prepared in advance, including along the line of intelligence. The idea of the Eastern campaign belonged to Alexander's father, Tsar Philip, and was implemented by him. In parallel with the creation of separate reconnaissance and assault units in the enemy’s headquarters, major cities and strategic points, residents were recruited, recruiting agents, identifying opponents of the regime and establishing a system of continuous and operational data transfer to the coalition headquarters. Alexander adopted an already extensive and effective reconnaissance system and special purpose units prepared for action in the special conditions.
From the beginning and to the end of the campaign, the commander of his GRU was the commander, whom Alexander trusted most of all - the future pharaoh of Egypt, Ptolemy. As befits the head of the secret service, very little was known about his work for the time being. Historians have noted that he was "almost imperceptible" until the moment when the army entered India. Apparently, secrecy was observed already in those ancient times. His deputy and head of the counterintelligence service was Alexander Hephaestion’s best friend.
In the conditions of the long march it was important to track the state of affairs among the comrades-in-arms and the troops for possible conspiracies and riots. Counterintelligence has always been proactive and very tough, adhering to the principle “it is better to execute one innocent than to leave two enemies alive”. Historians are still arguing about the famous "plot Philoty", when one of Alexander's closest friends was arrested "for passive participation in the plot" of a certain Dymn against Alexander. One of the conspirators informed him about the allegedly preparing murder of the king, but Filota did not let the cause go until the informer turned to another person. Methods of inquiry conformed to the standards of those times. As Quint Curcius Rufus wrote, “first, when he was tormented with whipping, then with fire, and not in order to attain the truth, but in order to punish him, he not only made no sound, but also restrained moans. But when his body, swollen from a multitude of wounds, could no longer withstand the blows of the scourge on the naked bones, he promised, if his sufferings died, to say what they wanted. ”
There were also direct examples of Alexander’s participation in “loyalty checks”. In his army "there was a Persian named Sisen, once sent to King Philip the ruler of Egypt; receiving gifts and honors of every kind, he exchanged his homeland for exile, followed Alexander to Asia and was listed among his loyal friends. It was to him that a Cretan soldier handed over a letter sealed with a ring with a seal unknown to him. This letter was sent by the commander Darius Nabarzan, persuading Sisen to do anything worthy of his origin and character, in order to earn the honor of Darius. This letter of innocent Sisen often tried to convey to Alexander, but seeing that the king was busy with various worries and preparations for war, he waited for a convenient opportunity, and this heightened the suspicion that he was plotting a crime. For the letter had previously fallen into the hands of Alexander, who, having read it and sealed Sisen with a ring, he ordered to give it to the Persian in order to test the faithfulness of the barbarian. But since the latter did not approach Alexander for several days, it was decided that he had hidden the letter with a criminal purpose; in the campaign he was killed by the Cretans, no doubt, on the orders of the king. "
Of course, there were also much more massive secret events. During the siege of Halicarnassus, in order to clarify the real mood among the soldiers, Alexander allowed the soldiers, despite the established order, to write letters home. All of them were read in counterintelligence. Information that dissatisfaction is growing in the army has been documented, active agitators have been identified and removed from the troops. After this, mail censorship became mandatory.
Alexander did not change what was good before him. Having saved an efficiently working pouch and courier service system, he only introduced a new encryption scheme. He was engaged in agent intelligence - during the siege of the city of Halicarnassus, he personally sent agents to establish contact with the local "underground".
But for the majority, of course, it will be much more interesting to find out how effectively the troop reconnaissance and assault units of Alexander acted.
It is no secret that the commander loved adventures and often himself conducted reconnaissance, as it was before the battle of Gavgamelah.
“Having taken the royal silt, one detachment of“ friends ”, and from the peon's prodrome, Alexander rushed forward rapidly, ordering the rest of the army to follow them with the usual step. The Persian horsemen, seeing the rapidly advancing army of Alexander, rushed back into the whole horse race; Alexander began a stubborn pursuit. Most escaped; some — those whose horses had come down — were killed; some with horses were captured. They learned from them that Darius with a large army is nearby. ”
What kind of prodrome is this? In Greek, ornate "running ahead." Literally - intelligence. Thus, for the first time in history, the mission of the light cavalry brigade, with a total number of approximately 900 copies, initially consisting of four to five squadrons, was correctly identified. She worked as intelligence with the king, and independently.
“On the fourth day after the crossing, the scouts told Alexander that the enemy horsemen were visible on the plain, but it is difficult to guess how many there are. He went ahead, building an army in battle order. Other scouts rushed in; these saw more precisely: in their words, the riders, it seems, will be no more than a thousand ... "
Who were they?
It is not difficult to determine this type of intelligence of Alexander’s army.
In the last century, a fresco with a single image of the commander of the cavalry reconnaissance unit of the Macedonian army finally fell off the walls of an ancient crypt in Macedonia. At the last moment, the rider’s figure in a pink raincoat, spearing a Persian infantryman, was copied. He was identified by his cloak. It is known that, among other things, even in the army of Father Alexander - Philip, all branches of the military began to be distinguished by the color of the “form”. Exploration got pink.
It is interesting that the rider from the crypt was depicted with a beard. This meant that he had given his life for his country during the time of Philip. Why? It is known that Alexander, before the Eastern campaign, obliged all his warriors to shave their beards, “so that the enemy couldn’t miss them”. Intelligence to execute this order was especially difficult. The fact is that the Macedonians here were only commanders. But ordinary prodrome intelligence were not the Greeks and Macedonians, and the Thracians, which indicates that Alexander did not pick up people on their own, but according to their abilities. It is about them that the ancient historian writes:
“Alexander at that time approached the river Granik, leading the army in the ranks; He built the hoplites with a double phalanx, placed the riders from the flanks, and ordered the convoy to go behind. Gegeloh commanded intelligence; riders armed with sarissas were with him, and about 5000 were lightly armed men ... Alexander was already near the river Granik when scouts rode up to him with the news that Persians were ready to fight behind Hranik ”.
Like now, the scouts had the reputation of dashing people, but the fame was hard for them. Separated from the main forces, they clashed with the enemy, raided and ambushed, cut off communications, intercepted messengers, took languages, and counted enemy forces. Just like now, they did not wear “armor”, and instead of a blanket they put leopard skins on the backs of horses. Prodroma never allowed the enemy to suddenly attack the main forces of Alexander’s army. Sometimes the prodroms are compared with the Cossacks, but, unlike the Cossack troops, they were commanded by alien Macedonians. Of course, the people were specific. Before the decisive battle with the Persians, Alexander promised eternal glory to the Macedonians and the Greeks. And this is what he said to his northern neighbors:
"But to the Illyrians and the Thracians, who were accustomed to living by robbery, he ordered to look at the enemy army, sparkling with gold and purple, bearing prey, and not weapon; may they, like men, take away the gold from these weakly feminine peoples and exchange their bare rocks, frozen from eternal cold, for rich fields and meadows of Persians.
And everyone in this battle fought for his. And, as you know, successfully.
In addition to the "mobile units", complete intelligence of the Macedonian king also included real attack aircraft.
Agriane - "Flying Warriors"
"But against those whom Darius sent forth to occupy the mountain range, Alexander put the agrians recently brought from Greece."
In the army of Alexander, there were only about a thousand. Light infantry, which, at Gaugamela, in a fantastic way repulsed the attack of the heavy Persian cavalry. Agrians - also a Thracian tribe, the Highlanders, the northern neighbors of Macedonia, not only participated in all major battles, but also the first to occupy passes and narrow passages in the mountains, stormed the cities. Probably, the historian Arrian means them in particular, describing the legendary "flying warriors" who distinguished themselves during the storming of the Rock - an impregnable mountain fortress in Central Asia:
“When Alexander approached Scala, he saw steep walls inaccessible for the assault ... Nevertheless, Alexander decided to take this place by storm. He offered to begin negotiations and promised that they would return home sound and safe if they surrender this place. Those with laughter, in a barbaric way, advised Alexander to look for winged warriors, who would take this mountain to him: ordinary people have nothing to think about. Then Alexander ordered to announce that the first who climb the Rock will receive 12 talents as a reward, the second will receive the second reward, the third - the third, and so on ...
Soldiers assembled were accustomed to climb rocks on the number of 300 during sieges. They prepared small iron crutches with which they strengthened tents in the ground ... By hammering these crutches into the ground where it was visible, or into completely solidified snow, they pulled themselves onto a rock, some in one place, some in another. During this ascent, about 30 people died ... The rest already at dawn occupied the top of the mountain; having climbed there, they began to swing their handkerchiefs in the direction of the Macedonian camp: as they were ordered by Alexander. He sent a herald and told him to call out barbaric guards so that they would not pull further, but give up, because the winged people were found and already occupied the top of their mountains. And the herald immediately showed the soldiers at the top.
The barbarians, shocked by the unexpected sight, decided that the mountain was occupied by a much larger number of fully armed people, and surrendered. ”
They were the 600 kilometers that pursued Darius, then two days and the 110 kilometers drove Bess. And then there was “Scala-2” - 200 meters vertically during the storming of Aorn mountain in present-day Pakistan. By law, commanded by the "flying warriors" of Alexander, of course, the Macedonian - Attal.
“Two in One”: DSB and Marines
But among the parts of the special operations forces of Alexander were purely Macedonian formations. During the siege of Tire, Alexander went to the attack of the city from the ship of the “shield bearers” - the hypaspists. There were few of them - three thousand, and in his army they were divided into three brigades - the chiliarchy.
“Three days later, after waiting for windless weather, Alexander, calling for the commanders of infantry to fight, led the vehicles to the city. First, a large part of the wall was shaken; when the breach was wide enough, Alexander ordered the ships with machines to sail and approach the other two, who were carrying the footbridges: he expected to transfer them to the breach of the wall. On one of these ships were shield bearers under the command of Admet, and on the other the regiment of Ken: the so-called "foot friends." He himself was going together with the shield bearers to ascend where it was needed on the wall ... When the ships with Alexander approached the city and the walkways with them were transferred to the wall, the shield bearers briskly rushed along them to the wall ... Alexander followed the soldiers himself, taking a lively part in the matter ... First the wall was taken in the place where Alexander was in control; he threw off the Thyrians without difficulty, as soon as the Macedonians crossed the footbridge and became a firm foot on the ground; Admett first climbed the wall; calling his followers, he immediately fell, struck by a spear. "
As historians write, these were elite warriors, specially trained to storm cities and to act in rough terrain. After the capture of Tire, it turned out that they were able to take cities from the sea.
Where did they come from? The entire corpus of hypaspists was originally formed from foot armor-bearers (shield bearers) of the royal satellite geteyrs. At first they were called so - “Shchitonostsy getyry.” The elite unit of hypaspistes, argirapid-like, “silver-shielded”, was also part of the royal guard, agemes.
It is interesting that in battle they also acted together with the getyers, effectively covering the vulnerable lower part of their cavalry and the corps of their horses.
Centuries and millennia have passed. But isn't the words of Quintus Curtius, the Roman, about the fate of the soldiers of the expeditionary forces in the East now relevant:
“They will again be scorched by the merciless sun, and they will be chased into places that nature itself did not intend to look at mortals. Because all the time there are new weapons, new enemies. Even if they pass through these lands and enter into a new war, what reward awaits them ahead? ”
From our dossier
His father, Philip, spent many years as a hostage in Thebes, reconnoitered all the details of the then new products in military affairs, ranging from the construction and training of the phalanx to the Persian battle technique. But Alexander himself was a great master of becoming “amongst others”.
A headache for expeditionary corps leaders in faraway countries is always the legitimization of their actions. At that time, the advice of Aristotle’s “humanist” did not prove useful in practice: “Treat the Hellenes as a leader, and the barbarians as a despot, take the first care as friends and relatives, and use those as animals or plants”, or “international duty” And the establishment of a democratic order. In order to impress the local tribes, the conqueror needed an impressive biography and family ties with their rulers. Alexander in this case is an unattainable value. Depending on the situation, he seemed to be a god, as it was in Egypt, or the legal heir to the thrones of all the captured countries and territories. In addition to the already well-known facts, you can bring one more.
... During the preparation for the Persian campaign, Alexander suddenly wanted to marry the daughter of the Caria vicar-superior Pixador Ade. Until now, it was not clear why Father Papa Philip sulked so much then on his son Sasha. Moreover, he did not mind at all that his other son would marry her from another wife. Further more. Taking the city of Halicarnassus, Alexander handed over Kariya to the possession of an older sister of the satrap, and she adopted him in gratitude.
This story is considered only a strange quirk of the young king. But it is worth digging a little deeper and it turns out that Alexander did nothing for nothing.
His great-great-grandfather and namesake Alexander I, Xerxes’s faithful companion in the fight against the Greeks and three hundred Spartans, gave his own sister Gygey to marry the Persian satrap Bagoi. Their son Aminta, who was born to them, even received a city from the Persian king, and then this branch of the Macedonian dynasty disappeared forever from the pages of history. But, as it turned out later, Bagoy was a relative of the great king Darius I. And Alexander, the adoptive sister of the satrap Kariya, was from the Aminta clan. Thus, Alexander, in an elegant and legal way, became ... a relative of the Persian royal dynasty of the Achaemenids, and with the same rights as the current king Darius, after which he legitimately demanded the crown of the Persian Empire.
The footage from the film “Alexander” by Ridley Scott used in the article reflects the general opinion of specialists - the armament of that era in it, as opposed to an ambiguous plot, is transmitted as authentic as possible. In the photo - versions of the armor of the Macedonian rider - shiny steel armor and canvas shell. Such shells were made of several layers of canvas, stitched together and soaked in a saturated salt solution. The canvas was so saturated with salt that when it dried it was difficult to cut it even with an ax. Alexander knowingly preferred to wear him in a fight.