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Thank you Mr. Aubuchon, veterans, members of the National Press Club, ladies and gentlemen, fellow Marines and service members ... I am honored to be with you today.
In 9 AD, Roman Proconsul Quinctilius Varus crossed into Germany to bring recalcitrant barbarian tribes to supression. Three years prior, his legions had decimated a similar uprising and had sent thousands of men, women, and children back to Italy as slaves. The Romans expected that this outing would be no different. On a hot August morning, the two sides joined battle in the Teutoberg Forest near what is today the city of Minden. By nightfall, Varus had lost the eagles of three legions and was conducting a desperate rearguard action to save his remaining forces. During the withdrawal, Varus could be heard muttering under his breath "Ne Cras, Ne Cras." Not like yesterday and, it wasn't like yesterday.
The fact of the matter is, that in today's vernacular, the Germanic tribes had watched CNN. They had seen, first hand, three years earlier, the power of Roman technology -- the heavy cavalry and the bow men. The barbarians lured the Roman heavy cavalry into the marshes where their mobility and shock power were rendered useless. They led the Roman bow men into the forest where the trees negated the effectiveness of their arrows. What was left was the Roman light infantry, a minor nuisance, once separated from their supporting arms ... the cavalry and bow men.
The strategy worked ... three days later Varus' head adorned a Germanic warpike.
Upon hearing the news of Varus's defeat, Caesar Augustus suffered a nervous breakdown. So greatly affected was Augustus that for several months he cut neither his hair nor his beard, and sometimes he would dash his head against a door, crying: "Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions." Varus's and Augustus's outlook towards the world was colored by their past experiences and their past successes. Their whole view of warfare was based on the premise that nothing would change, that no matter what the world situation was Imperial Rome, as the sole superpower, would always prevail. They, like us today, viewed the world through the lens of …