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Scipio Africanus and also the 2nd Punic War: share Lessons for center of Gravity evaluation

through Kenneth T. "Max" Klima, Peter Mazzella, and Patrick B. McLaughlin Joint force Quarterly 88


Commander Kenneth T. “Max” Klima, USN, is Deputy Director for Intelligence, Joint staff J2.Lieutenant Colonel Peter Mazzella, USA, is the joint Training System and Lessons Learned BranchChief because that North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and also U.S. North Command(USNORTHCOM) J7. Significant Patrick B. McLaughlin, USAF, is the command Joint Planner because that the Aerospaceand countryside Defense to plan Branch, NORAD and also USNORTHCOM J5.

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Bellum parate, quoniam pacem pati non potuistis.

Publius Cornelius Scipio (236–183 BCE), known more widely by the nom de guerre Scipio Africanus, was a roman inn statesman and also general who actions during the 2nd Punic war (218–201 BCE) show the eternal qualities embodied by contemporary concepts of share warfare. Scipio work said principles at every levels of war and showed one atypical ability to combine military and political objectives into a solitary system. Back the period of antiquity was a time as soon as the ideas of strategy were just nascent, the examine of Scipio highlights practically every aspect of contemporary joint planning and also operations. In analyzing Scipio, Basil H. Liddell Hart proposed that his “ilitary work has a better value to modern-day students of war than the of any type of other great captain of the past.”1 In fact, despite warfare’s developments in technology and irebab.netstry, Hart’s monitoring of Scipio is as applicable to today’s share planner as it was almost a century ago.

Scipio Africanus’s European and African projects during the second Punic battle serve as timeless lessons because that joint force planners on exactly how to corebab.netct center of heaviness (COG) analysis in support of theater and national army planning. The projects are a superb auto with i beg your pardon to examine five an essential lessons connected with today’s principle of COG analysis:

afford the preferred endstate COGs as component of a device the indirect technique to attacking COGs how to move in between direct and also indirect approaches the an outcome of bad COG analysis.

Despite the usage of 2,200-year-old evidence, all five lessons show how the an easy dictums of modern-day doctrine verified pivotal in determining even if it is Rome or Carthage would dominion the Mediterranean for practically 6 centuries. However, prior to we deserve to use Scipio’s campaign background to assistance our insurance claims of COG analysis, us must very first understand the history and operational problems present during the 2nd Punic War.

The operational Environment

As the name suggests, the 2nd Punic battle was no the an initial skirmish between Rome and also Carthage. The an initial Punic war (264–241 BCE) to be a dispute over the regulate of Sicily that finished inconclusively. In the interregnum in between the very first and second conflict, one unsteady tranquility existed as each side maneuvered for advantage.

Circa 218 BCE, Carthaginian basic Hannibal Barca all set for, and also then renewed, Carthage’s initiatives to subjugate its rival. Reportedly, he inherited his father’s hate of Rome and, v a cult of personality, led his military from the deserts of Africa, across the Mediterranean, end the Alps, and also into the Italian peninsula, embarking on a bloody project to loss Rome.2 In victory after victory, utilizing the “mental and also material way for a stroke in ~ the heart of the roman power,” Hannibal’s tactical and also operational genius crushed Rome’s armies and also established the as among history’s greatest commanders.3 complying with Hannibal’s decisive defeat of the Roman pressures at Cannae (216 BCE), Carthage gained control of the Italian coastline of Magna Graecia, which led to multiple roman inn allies and economic vassals switching allegiances to Hannibal.4 Post-Cannae, Hannibal was unable come lay siege to Rome to pressure its surrender. Instead, he introduced a decades-long project throughout Italy during which, despite unending tactical success, he remained unable to achieve his army or politics endstates: the subjugation of Rome.


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The battle Between Scipio and also Hannibal at Zama, Cornelis Cort, after ~ Giulio Romano, engraving ca. 1550–1578, Elisha Whittelsey collection (Courtesy city Museum the Art)


Hannibal’s tactical success did an outcome in a shortage that qualified roman generals willing to in march out and also meet him. In desperation, the roman inn Senate eventually turned come an unproven 24-year-old Scipio—son of Publius Scipio, the basic defeated and slain through Carthaginian forces in 211 BCE—to remove the risk of Hannibal’s pressures from Rome’s doorstep. However, Scipio did not move to directly an obstacle Hannibal in battle, together was supposed by many Roman leaders, however instead decided to take an indirect approach, deploying pressures to Spain to command a multiyear campaign against Carthaginian forces and allies.5 In Spain, Scipio isolated and also defeated four militaries (including two led by Hannibal’s brothers, Hasdrubal and also Mago), destroyed lines of communication supporting Hannibal in Italy, and rebalanced Carthaginian allies earlier to Rome. Furthermore, Scipio confirmed a unique capability to corebab.netct joint warfare, leveraging the unique attributes linked with the various units that the roman inn army, navy, and marine forces. Scipio’s demonstrated ability to leverage strategic, operational, and tactical flexibility yielded extraordinary success.

Consequently, the victory in Spain solidified the efficacy the Scipio’s unorthodox approach, the Senate expanded his commission, and also he moved his militaries toward Africa to threaten the city of Carthage directly. The confluence of these events compelled Hannibal to abandon Italy and return to Africa, wherein his military was met and routed by Scipio’s forces at the battle of Zama (202 BCE). Hannibal’s loss finalized Carthage’s defeat, securing because that Rome a Mediterranean realm that would certainly last nearly 600 years.

Lesson One: COG Analysis permits Desired Endstates

The failure to know the wanted political endstate—what comes after the change to civil authorities—invariably leads to difficulties in war termination and the establishment of legitimate governments, institutions, and also authorities in postconflict states.6 This difficulty of overcoming the split in between military and political planning is not a phenomenon of the present age. Even a cursory examine of Scipio expresses just how the soldier-statesman should corebab.netct a selection of armed forces operations within a spectrum that at the same time integrates all three levels of war while still supporting the preferred political endstate (often described as “national strategy endstate” in joint doctrine). Because that example, during the second Punic War, the politics endstate to be not solely the damage of the adversary’s military, but rather the military method to achieve the political aim that securing unrivaled manage of the Mediterranean world.7 transparent the war, Scipio’s army actions and also operational technique demonstrated an capability to directly connect singular and also multiple military actions toward the achievement of both the wanted military conditions as well as the desired political endstate. Scipio’s every action, both on and also off the battlefield, concentrated on achieve a lasting postwar tranquility in which Rome directed the food of a subdued yet integrated Carthage. This emphasis ignored the classic military emphasis on damage of armies, irebab.netstry, and economic way and instead used armed forces successes to set the political problems for Carthage to comply through Roman will in that affairs.

Another instance of Scipio’s political foresight in the use of military method was demonstrated after his successful seizure of the Carthaginian Spanish colony of Cartagena (209 BCE). Quite than destroy Spain’s Celtic-Iberian people who sustained Carthage—the an extremely same people whose rebellion from Rome brought about the death of Scipio’s father—Scipio broke with tradition and also built near ties with former enemies. The day after his triumph in Cartagena, Scipio verified clemency and even mercy towards the indigenous tribes both publicly and also through policy. The Roman historian Livy claims these acts in reality endeared Scipio to the world throughout Spain and were significant causes toward undercutting Carthage’s political manage in the region. Scipio’s action may have actually gone against the common military practice of the age, but his mercy shifted Spain’s commitment from Carthage to Rome—irrevocably destroying Carthage’s it is provided of personnel and financial assistance for Hannibal’s Italian operations.

By remaining concentrated on the wanted political endstate, Scipio adroitly avoided expected military practices the were counter to the postwar peace. Spain, a hotbed the insurgents and untrustworthy allies, was likewise the resource of Carthaginian troop levies, food supplies, and also war business economics essential to Hannibal’s Italian campaign. In addition to his military victories, Scipio’s benevolent treatment of former foes had actually a compounding effect in that other tribes and also nations loyal to Carthage surrendered come Roman pressures rather than battle Scipio or stay Carthaginian vassals.8 Consequently, in a few masterful strokes, Scipio winner a continual war, ended an irregular war, destroyed Hannibal’s it is provided chain, and integrated the Spanish tribes right into the better Roman political and economic system in the Mediterranean. Scipio remarked to the roman inn Senate the in Spain the had confronted down four foe commanders and four armies, with the outcome being not a single Punic soldier staying in Spain.9 concentrating on both military and political endstates, Scipio’s actions successfully neutralized the troublesome tribes of Spain from supporting Carthage for the remainder of the Punic Wars.10

Scipio followed the same formula ~ his early victories following the intrusion of Africa (206–204 BCE). Hannibal stayed in Italy, however Carthaginian political elites, fearing Scipio’s invasion force, feeling defenseless and sued for peace. The resulting peace terms were lenient for the age and indicate Scipio’s preference to combine Carthage and its swarms into the Roman system as contributing partners. The peace lasted till Hannibal went back to Africa to difficulty Scipio directly. Nevertheless, after ~ Hannibal’s loss at Zama and in spite of the Carthaginian Senate’s deceit, Scipio’s requirements for a final peace remained principally the very same as those agreed upon prior to Hannibal’s return. Livy’s record shows this relocate was not renowned in Rome, as part leaders want Carthage to experience in defeat—much choose Germany would certainly be do to erebab.netre by the victors after civilization War I. Scipio’s leniency towards his defeated enemy indicates he believed a weakened Carthage with a damaged army and fragile institutions would have produced a peace no various from that following the very first Punic War—sowing the seed for yet one more war in between the two empires.11

Scipio’s capacity to recognize the desired political endstate permitted each tactical and also operational motion to breakthrough toward achieving “a much more perfect peace.” The an outcome was that every action, little or large, was incorporated into the as whole operational target of removing Hannibal indigenous Italy and also subjugating Carthage. In act so, Scipio efficiently subjugated the enemy while sustaining the smallest possible cost the life and resources.12 Joint publishing (JP) 5-0, Joint procedure Planning, echoes Scipio’s approach, identifying the require for “a clear understanding of the end state and the conditions that need to exist to finish military operations. Knowing when to terminate military operations and also how to preserve completed advantages is an essential to achieving the national strategic end state.”13

Scipio’s success teaches share planners the a vital component that COG evaluation involves a greater understanding of the wanted political endstate. A clearer knowledge of the political problems informs the COG discussion and also furthers identification of the means for destroying or disabling devil COGs. Current doctrine concentrates on armed forces termination and also phase-transition criteria and also directs politics endstates to be the province of politics decisionmakers. JP 5-0 explains the procedure and assets that the national Command Authority supplies to develop national strategy, however does not discuss how the government develops desired political endstates for particular conflicts. Political entities and also institutions execute not necessarily have actually clear (in room of Defense terms) mechanisms to develop identifiable endstates to serve army planning objectives. JP 5-0 does determine the commander’s need to work through interagency mechanisms, however these initiatives are varied and reliant ~ above the people in command and also do not result in clear integration of government institutions and the military.

In contrast to Scipio, Hannibal exemplifies the pitfalls of no integrating preferred military and political endstates. Follow to the roman record, Hannibal’s cavalry leader Maharbal remarked come his commander the Hannibal “knew how to obtain a victory” however did “not know exactly how to use it.”14 Hannibal’s technique is akin to mark Cancian’s 1998 discourse top top the fallacy the COG analysis, together they both incorrectly identify the goal of all armed forces operations together attaining a battlefield advantage.15 Hannibal’s emphasis on battlefield benefit resulted in a collection of tactical and also operational successes that never resulted in strategic victory. Scipio’s approach stands in stark contrast and serves together a reminder to military planners that the change to a far better peace does not occur simply because one has completed the wanted military endstate.

Other conflicts much more recent 보다 the 2nd Punic War have actually demonstrated both the difficulty today’s share planners challenge in outlining war termination criteria and the effective transition from armed forces to polite authorities and also the prestige in law so. This is more likely a result of army planners focusing principally on armed forces approaches come the change from tranquility to war quite than completely whole-of-government efforts focused on achieve the smooth change from war back to peace. Carl von Clausewitz identified the ties between national politics and also the intends of conflict, however it was basic William T. Sherman who clarified the “ar’s legit object is a much more perfect peace.” historic examples provide evidence the responsibility falls to the rarely soldier-statesman to have actually the biggest understanding that the national strategic ends: the transition between politics-to-war-to-peace and then again come politics. This lesson may be the many profound for contemporary military planners who train to create a certain military endstate and also then speak of transition.

Current theory teaches today’s planners that armed forces planning cannot be efficient without a clear knowledge of the armed forces endstate and that the discontinuation of armed forces operations is key to achieve the “national strategic end state.”16 No solitary government institution is responsible for specifying an individual strategic endstate, specifically for major theater contingency plans, conversely, the armed forces receives guidance directly from the nationwide Command Authority with a byzantine procedure of strategy guidance and also the labyrinthine joint Strategic planning System. Unfortunately, the share planner go not have a function in developing responsibilities in the international system that states, and also the crafters of national strategy space not members of share planning groups, causing a organic fissure in between military and political ends. Modern-day planners because of this must discover from Scipio’s example and create a working understanding of the political endstate quite than remain preoccupied solely on the defeat or devastation of the the opposite militaries. Just with this understanding can military success effectively translate to lasting stability and also peace after ~ hostilities have ceased.

Lesson Two: COG and Its aspects Are part of an Interconnected System

Scipio’s 2nd lesson is to see COGs as part of one interconnected device in order to uncover which push points productivity the best effect. There stay deep, integral relationships between the COGs in ~ the varying levels of war that produce an interconnected system established through COG analysis. Therefore, the capacity exists to use analytical outcomes to emphasis military to work to develop system-wide impacts. Expertise COGs as a system means that even tactical actions have the right to support strategy ends. Using the contemporary rubrics of COG analysis to the 2nd Punic War, it becomes clear that the incorporated COG analysis of Scipio suggested Hannibal’s pressures in Italy were no the strategy COG—the level most interconnected with the wanted political endstate—but more likely an work COG.17 Moreover, this evaluation indicates the defeat of Hannibal at the operational level of battle would not have actually led come a strategic loss of Carthage. Vice versa, improper or incorrect analysis limits the ability to target or affect the whole, and also effects room isolated fairly than systemic—hence Scipio’s decision to neglect the Senate’s orders to confront Hannibal directly and also instead seek an indirect means of threatening the true strategy COG of Carthage itself.

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Hannibal’s dependency on Spain together a an important force enabler supporting his operational COG—Carthage’s fielded pressures in Italy—made it the logical target for Scipio’s indirect strategy. In sacking the Spanish city of Cartagena, Scipio reduced off Hannibal’s lifeline and crippled his operational ability without ever having confronted the dreaded basic on the battlefield. Livy records Scipio instructing his forces, “You will in actuality attack the wall surfaces of a single city, however in that single city friend will have actually made yourselves master of Spain.”18 Liddell Hart further established that the Spanish project was not merely about Spain, as army actions in ~ the work level had systemic effects influencing the strategic:

Scipio, in who the idea of strategy exploitation was as inborn as the tactical, was no content to rest on his laurels. Currently he was looking come the future, directing his view to Africa. Together he had actually seen that Cartagena was the crucial to Spain, the Spain was the key to the instance in Italy, therefore he experienced that Africa was the vital to the whole struggle. Strike at Africa, and he would certainly not just relieve Italy that Hannibal’s ever menacing presence—a menace which that had already reduced by paralyzing Hannibal’s resource of reinforcement—but would threaten the structures of Carthaginian power, till the edifice itself fell down in ruin.19

Scipio’s indirect technique into Spain offers planners a great in the effectiveness of thorough COG analysis. The army planner have to not only recognize the reality that COGs exist in ~ multiple levels but also endeavor to understand how the connection in between those COGs and their elements (critical capabilities , crucial requirements , and an essential vulnerabilities ) communicate with one another.20 While attack a solitary vulnerability, one may create a cascading result that paralyzes or destroys the enemy’s device from within—setting problems for the preferred endstate.