AD 68, to serve new emperor Galba.


Initially, Gallia Narbonensis and Italy.


Misenum, Spain, Mogontiacum, Sirmium, Brigetio, Dacia, Parthia, Brigetio.


Battle of Old Camp, AD 70.

Trajan’s Dacian Wars, AD 101–106.

Trajan’s Partian Campaign, AD 114–116.

Marcus Aurelius’ German Wars, AD 161–180.


Publius Hevius Pertinax, future emperor.


Thrown together during the war of succession, fighting on Otho’s losing side before making a name for itself under Trajan, it would be one of Stilicho’s legions in the last desperate battles before the fifth-century fall of Rome.

A legion with surprising beginnings

In the late spring of AD 68, in a desperate bid to keep his throne, the 30-year-old emperor Nero raised a new legion, taking the unprecedented step of enlisting sailors from the Roman battle fleet based at Misenum, on the east coast of Italy, for legionary service. But the sailors could not save him; or would not. With both the Praetorian Guard and his German Guard bodyguard deserting him, and with the Senate declaring him an enemy of the state and sending troops to arrest him, on June 9 Nero apparently committed suicide. The Senate had already recognized the claim to the throne of 70-year-old Sulpicius Galba, governor of the province of Nearer Spain, and that autumn Galba came marching to Rome from Spain, attended by an entourage which included a new 7th Legion he had raised there, and a large body of cavalry.

In the meantime, Nero’s legion of seamen had sat stubbornly in Rome awaiting developments. With no quarters, they slept wherever they could around the city. At the time, Rome was crowded with legion detachments summoned to Rome by Nero during the last gasps of his reign; those troops, including men from the 11th Claudia and 15th Apollinaris legions, had resorted to sleeping in temples and public buildings. [Tac., H, I, 31] The seamen from Misenum had not been presented with an eagle and standards to signify that their legion was officially constituted, but they were determined to gain recognition of their unit; with that recognition would come a grant of Roman citizenship to each of them.

At this time, seamen and marines serving in Rome’s navy were not citizens. Neither were they slaves. Contrary to the erroneous picture painted by nineteenth-century authors, Rome’s sailors of this era were salaried free men who possessed neither Latin status nor Roman citizenship. [Starr, III, 3, and V, 1] Once the much valued prize of citizenship had been dangled before them by Nero, the seamen from Misenum were determined to win it from the new emperor Galba. Consequently, when news reached Rome in October AD 68 that Galba and his column from Spain were approaching, the 5,000 sailors of the new legion went flooding out of the city gates, joining the thousands of civilians gathered there to greet him.

Three miles (4.8 kilometers) north of Rome, this “disorderly rabble of the seamen,” as Plutarch described them, “those whom Nero had made soldiers, forming them into a legion,” crowded around Galba and loudly demanded “to have their commission confirmed.” [Plut., Galba] Preventing the emperor from being seen or heard by the crowds lining the route into the city, the ex-sailors “tumultuously pressed him, shouting loudly to have colors for their legion and quarters assigned to them.” [Ibid.] Galba tried to put them off, saying he would consider the matter later, and rode on.

But the seamen were not satisfied with this response, “which they interpreted as a denial” of their request. [Ibid.] Growing “more insolent and mutinous” and “some with drawn swords in their hands,” they continued to follow him, yelling their demands. [Ibid.] The sight of the sailors’ drawn swords frightened Galba, and as the column approached the Milvian Bridge over the Tiber river he “ordered the cavalry to ride over them.” [Ibid.] The seamen, the vast majority of whom were unarmed, “were soon routed” by the cavalry. Not a man stood his ground, “and many of them were killed, both there and in the pursuit” as they tried to flee back to the city. [Ibid.]

According to Tacitus, the affair resulted in “the slaughter of thousands of unarmed soldiers” of the unofficial legion by Galba’s cavalry. [Tac., H, I, 6] Cassius Dio, writing of the event more than 150 years later, estimated that “about 7,000 perished on the spot, and the survivors were later decimated,” with one in ten executed. [Dio, LXIII, 3] But 7,000 was certainly an exaggerated figure; an imperial legion only numbered a little over 5,200 men. And there is no other record of the decimation.

Word of Galba’s cold-blooded act of brutality against his own men at the Milvian Bridge soon spread around the empire, and did nothing to endear their new emperor to the Romans. The event was so impressed on the mind of Plutarch, who was at the time a young man in his twenties, and that of fellow historian Tacitus, then in his early teens, that both would observe that this was a bad omen for the new emperor’s reign “that Galba should make his first entry [to Rome] through so much blood and among dead bodies.” [Plut., Galba] Despite this lethal treatment, the surviving seamen hardened their resolve to gain recognition. The legion “which Nero had levied from the fleet” still remained in the congested capital, albeit in custody, and significantly reduced in numbers. [Tac., H, I, 6, 87]

This legion’s tortured beginnings were now about to take another turn. Tacitus wrote that, several months later, the city of Vienna “had recently raised legions for Galba.” [Tac., H, I., 65] This was not today’s Vienna in Austria, but present-day Vienna, in southern France. Roman Vienna was a leading city of the province of Narbon Gaul, through which Galba had passed on his march from Spain to Rome. [Plut., Galba] Situated on the south bank of the Rhône, Vienne, the capital of the powerful Allobroges tribe in Celtic times, had become one of the wealthiest cities in Gaul, even advertising its wealth with an inscription above the city gates, “VIEN FLOR FELIX,” which declared that Vienna was rich and flourishing. Such riches, and such boasts, could only attract the avaricious attention of neighbors who coveted “the gold of the men of Vienna.” [Tac., H, II, 29] And so it was to prove.

From AD 67 to AD 69, Vienna and the neighboring city of Lugdunum, today’s Lyon, were in a state of “perpetual feud.” [Tac., H, I, 65] Rivalry between the two went back as far the first century BC, when Vienna had expelled Roman colonists, who had subsequently been taken in by Lugdunum. When Gallic governor Vindex rose in revolt against Nero in AD 67, Lugdunum immediately threw its support behind Vindex, while Vienna retained its loyalty to Nero. During this period, Vienna had even sent armed men to raid Lugdunum. To keep the peace following the Vindex Revolt, Nero’s Palatium stationed the new 1st Italica Legion in Lugdunum, supporting the 18th Cohort of Rome’s City Guard, which was there to guard Lugdunum’s imperial mint. In an ironic twist, Lugdunum had then switched its support to Nero, and Vienna to Galba.

According to Tacitus, the people of Lugdunum now “began to work on the passions of individual soldiers, and to goad them into destroying Vienna.” [Ibid.] Tacitus says that in trying to coerce the 1st Italica legionaries into attacking Vienna, the people of Lugdunum claimed that while their city had begun as a colony of Roman legion veterans, the people of Vienna were foreigners. This potential threat, of an attack by the 1st Italica Legion, appears to have spurred the people of Vienna to come up with a novel solution, the formation of the first of their “legions for Galba” mentioned by Tacitus, levying young men locally.

Vienna’s first objective was the creation of a force to protect their city from attacks sponsored by Lugdunum, but the elders of Vienna would claim that they were merely creating legions in support of the nearby 1st Legion, the Italica, out of loyalty to their new emperor. Hence, the name taken by this, the first of Vienna’s new legions for Galba, was the 1st Adiutrix, or 1st Supporter Legion; literally, the legion in support of the 1st. Several months later, as Galba passed through their province on his way to Rome, the Viennase would have presented him with their new legion—a unit with perhaps a name but without an eagle, standards, or official standing—and Galba would have added Vienna’s recruits to his train as he marched on.

On December 22, apparently in a Saturnalia Festival act of clemency connected with his birthday, which was just two days away, Galba released some of the imprisoned seamen who had survived the massacre in October outside the city, discharging from military service those considered too old or too unfit to be of further use to the State. [Starr, VIII] The discharge diplomas issued to these men show that up to that point they had not received the Roman citizenship promised by Nero. Meanwhile, the remaining seamen from the Milvian Bridge massacre continued to languish in prison.

At this same time, Galba conveyed eagle and standards to the new legion, officially commissioning it into service as the 1st Adiutrix Legion. [Ibid.] That the legion was officially constituted by Galba, not Nero, is confirmed by Cassius Dio. [Dio, LV, 24] The December 22 timing of this formal presentation ceremony meant that from this time forward the legion would display the astrological birth sign of Capricorn.

Meanwhile, the remaining seamen of Nero’s legion enlistment were still imprisoned. [Tac., H, I, 87] So who was filling the legion’s ranks? It would seem that it was Vienna’s citizen recruits. Twenty-four days later, on January 15, AD 69, Galba was assassinated in Rome by a disaffected soldier of the 15th Apollinaris Legion. The Praetorian Guard at once hailed as their new emperor Otho, the former governor of Lusitania, who had marched to Rome with Galba the previous autumn. The Senate endorsed their choice.

Knowing how unpopular Galba had become with the military, one of Otho’s first acts was to win the loyalty of the fleet at Misenum. Tacitus records how Otho achieved this: Otho “enrolled in the ranks of the legion the survivors of the slaughter at the Milvian Bridge, who had been retained in custody by the stern policy of Galba.” [Tac., H, I, 87] That is, Otho added to the already existing 1st Adiutrix Legion the sailors he now released from custody. On being taken into the legion and joining the Viennase recruits, these seamen would be granted the Roman citizenship for which they had hungered. This diverse mix produced 1st Adiutrix soldiers who were, according to Plutarch, “strong and bold.” [Plut., Otho] As for the rest of the sailors of the fleet at Misenum, to them Otho “held out hopes of a more honorable service in the future”; they, too, might aspire to citizenship eventually. [Ibid.]

With the unit’s official commissioning by Galba, the name of the 1st Adiutrix Legion was formalized, as was its emblem, Pegasus the flying horse. In mythology, Pegasus was the son of Neptune, god of the sea, which would seemingly make the flying horse an appropriate symbol for a legion whose first recruits had come from the navy. Yet, as Starr points out, the seamen of Rome’s battle fleets showed no inclination to worship Neptune. [Starr, IV, 2] Neither did they worship Castor and Pollux, the patron deities of merchant sailors. In fact, the men of the fleet at Misenum venerated Isis, the patron goddess of sailors in Hellenistic times, who was believed to control the weather. [Ibid.]

Another new legion to adopt the Pegasus emblem, the 2nd Adiutrix, was raised the following year. This unit would also have a connection with both Vienna and the Roman navy. Apart from these two units, only one other imperial Roman legion is known to have employed the Pegasus emblem, and that was the 2nd Augusta Legion—a long-established and renowned unit known to use Gallia Narbonensis, a maritime province, as a recruiting ground. It may be that, rather than as a symbol of veneration of Neptune, both Adiutrix legions instead took Pegasus as their emblem in emulation of the 2nd Augusta, the “home” legion of Narbon Gaul, where they began life.

The 1st Adiutrix Legion spent that winter at Misenum, using the fleet’s quarters. Less than two months after the seamen officially joined the unit, the legion was ordered to prepare to march; its first battle was just weeks away. Ironically, the 1st Adiutrix faced the 1st Italica Legion, which it had been founded by Vienna to counter, in its first battle in April AD 69. It fought for Otho against Vitellius’ army at the First Battle of Bedriacum in northern Italy. Otho’s army lost; the 1st Adiutrix surrendered, after which Vitellius sent it to Spain.

In AD 70, the new emperor Vespasian transferred the 1st Adiutrix from Spain to Mogontiacum on the Rhine. Domitian stationed it in Pannonia. By the reign of Nerva it was at Brigetio, on the Danube. From there it took part in both of Trajan’s Dacian Wars, after which Trajan took it to the East for his Parthian campaign. From the reign of Hadrian the legion was back at Brigetio in Lower Pannonia, where it remained for the next 200 years defending the Danube.

In AD 193 the legion joined the march to Rome by the Pannonian legions that installed Septimius Severus on the throne after the Praetorian Guard murdered the popular soldier emperor Pertinax.

The Notitia Dignitatum shows the legion still in existence early in the fifth century, as part of the army of the Eastern Roman emperor, and stationed in the center of modern-day Hungary under the command of the Duke of Valeriae Ripensis.


RAF Aerial Bombing and Policing the Colonies

1920s: This Bristol F2b aircraft is pictured returning from a raid on the Jelal Khel during ‘Pink’s War’ on the north-west frontier of India in 1925. The conflict was given its name after Wing Commander Richard Pink, who commanded the Royal Air Force’s air-to-ground bombardment and strafing campaign.

Aerial bombing, the dropping of bombs on ground targets by military aircraft, was one of the most significant military innovations of the 20th century and one that Britain used against both external enemies and internal rebellion within the empire. It can be used to directly support troops on the battlefield (tactical) or to destroy enemy industrial, military, and economic resources at great distances (strategic). Aerial bombing can be used to directly attack an actual enemy or to deter a potential enemy by raising the possibility of bringing destruction, as was the case during the Cold War.

The first instance of aerial bombing occurred in North Africa in 1911 when Italy fought the Ottoman Empire and attacked Ottoman strongholds in Libya. Three years later the onset of World War I created opportunities for aircraft to support military actions. By September 1914, Britain’s air arms, the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service, had expanded their activities from observation duties to attacking ground targets using bombs dropped from aircraft.

Bombing played an increasing part in the war effort through 1918. Tactical bombing was part of the support given to ground troops in the battles of the Somme (1916), Messines, Ypres, and Cambrai (1917), and in the final offensive beginning with the battle of Amiens (1918). In addition to tactical air support, the British worked to develop a strategic bombing program against German cities, partly as retaliation for the German zeppelin raids on London earlier in the war.

At the conclusion of the war the Royal Air Force (RAF, formed in April 1918 from the old Royal Flying Corps) justified its continued existence by developing the practice of air policing in parts of the empire. Air policing was devised as a means of keeping order in colonies and mandatory territories without deploying large ground forces. If a native tribe refused to pay its taxes or other wise defied British authority, a message would be dropped by air advising them to comply with British demands. If they did not comply, an RAF unit would fly to the area and drop bombs until they agreed to terms. Although the method was cheap and did enforce obedience, it was not effective in creating deep affection for British rule. Air policing-sometimes through bombing and sometimes merely threatening to bomb-was first employed in Mesopotamia (Iraq) after the 1920 revolt, and it was subsequently employed in Somalia, Palestine, and India. There was even a suggestion by Winston Churchill (1874-1965) that it be used against the rebels in Ireland.

Perhaps the most significant effect of the bombing component of air policing was that it shaped the thinking of what became a highly influential group of RAF officers. These men believed in the effectiveness of bombing, and their views came to dominate Britain’s defense thinking in the years between the world wars. “The bomber will always get through,” a phrase used by Britain’s prime minister, Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), in 1932 became an accepted truth. That idea, in addition to Britain’s desire to keep defense appropriations low and to be able to hit an enemy strategically from a great distance, shaped what would become Britain’s bombing offensive in World War II.

Britain’s bombing offensive in World War II was planned and conducted by the RAF’s Bomber Command, which planned and executed the bombing campaign as well as determined its objectives. Bomber Command decided upon nighttime area raids with the goal of destroying Germany’s industrial capabilities and demoralizing the civilian population. The main targets were the industrial centers in the Ruhr Valley as well as cities such as Hamburg, Dresden, and Berlin. Bomber Command was also used in early 1944 to provide tactical support prior to the Normandy invasion. The aerial bombing campaign was a major component of Britain’s offensive in Eu rope, but it was not without controversy. Bomber Command aircrews suffered nearly 60 percent casualties (killed, wounded, and captured). At the same time, although the campaign did demonstrably hurt the German industrial effort, the extent to which it did so has never been agreed upon. Similarly, despite hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths the bombing of Germany failed to destroy civilian morale, just as the German bombing of Britain had failed to break civilian resolve earlier in the war.

Aerial bombing continued to be a British military practice after World War II, but there were some changes. The RAF, while no longer relying on fleets of bombers, maintained the ability to drop nuclear bombs in the event of a major war with the Soviet Union. That role was eventually taken from the RAF when, in 1968, Royal Navy missile submarines were designated to deliver nuclear weapons in the event of a war. However, the RAF and planes from the Royal Navy continued to use tactical bombing throughout the postwar period and into the 21st century. RAF and Royal Navy units dropped bombs in support of ground troops during the Korean War (1950-1953), the Falklands War (1982), the Persian Gulf Wars (1991 and 2003 to present), and in Afghanistan (2002-2014). Bombing was also used (though on a limited scale) to keep order in Malaya against communist rebels and against the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya.

Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force is the air arm of the British military. Founded during World War I, it played an important role in policing colonies and suppressing in de pendence movements in the 20th- century British Empire.

Heavier- than- air flight was only 11 years old when, in 1914, World War I began. At first aircraft were used to observe enemy troops and find targets. These aircraft needed protection, so fighter planes were developed to protect them. As the war progressed bombers were introduced to strike at both military and civilian targets. At the height of the war, in 1917, a commission made recommendations about the best way to use Britain’s aerial force. As a result of those recommendations, a separate armed force, in de pen dent of both Navy and Army, was created: the Royal Naval Air Ser vice was separated from the Royal Navy and the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) from the Army to form the Royal Air Force (RAF).

With the end of World War I there was concern within the RAF that its existence could come to an end by its being drawn back into the older ser vices. At this point a new military mission was created that, along with an accompanying civil administration role, guaranteed that the RAF would survive.

Britain’s empire in 1919 included both outright possessions and League of Nations Mandates. The empire was at its greatest extent, and Britain, burdened with war debt, was seeking a cheap way to maintain order in its possessions. The RAF carved out a role for itself by offering an inexpensive regime of air policing and territorial administration- first in Mesopotamia (Iraq), now a League of Nations Mandate, and subsequently in Somalia, Afghanistan, India’s Northwest Frontier, and Palestine. There was also a proposal, ultimately discarded, to employ the same means to keep the peace in Ireland.

The RAF, in common with the other British armed forces, faced serious budget cuts in the 1920s and 1930s. But as military planners began preparing for another European war they came to see aerial bombing as not only a potentially decisive strategic weapon but also one that would be cost effective. Thus, the RAF could be a significant strategic force that would not require the huge outlay in funds required by the army or navy. Such calculations helped to secure the RAF’s existence.

Fortunately for the RAF, and for Britain, peacetime bud get constraints did not prevent the development of aircraft that would eventually have a significant impact on the war. When World War II broke out in September 1939, the RAF expanded quickly. A large part of its successful expansion was its incorporation of segments of Commonwealth air forces such as the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. Additional pi lots and support personnel came from the nations conquered by the Germans, including members of the French, Belgian, Norwegian, Polish, and Czechoslovak air forces.

After the German conquest of France, the RAF was the only means of defense against the German aerial offensive of 1940, known as the Battle of Britain. Simultaneously, the RAF began to launch a bombing campaign that eventually grew to missions with 1,000 aircraft. In the later stages of the war the RAF pursued a campaign of area bombing at night. Although the destruction inflicted by these raids was significant, especially those on Hamburg and Dresden, the effort has been criticized since the end of the war as not having been a critical factor in damaging German war production. Elsewhere RAF units were deployed in North Africa, Italy, and Asia (principally Burma).

With the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, the RAF’s objectives changed to the Pacific. The RAF organized what was known the Tiger Force, to be based on the island of Okinawa, which would have conducted massive air raids against Japanese cities. The Japanese surrender brought an end to that plan, however.

The RAF now reduced its numbers, but it continued to have a major role in the defense of Britain and its now shrinking empire. From 1947 to 1968 the RAF had the responsibility of delivering Britain’s nuclear capability in the event of a war with the Soviet Union. After 1968 the strategic nuclear role shifted to the Royal Navy’s missile submarines, although the RAF continued its tactical nuclear capability to support NATO ground troops.

Within the empire, the RAF played a significant role in suppressing the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya from 1952 to 1960 and combating Communist guerrillas in Malaya from 1947 to 1960. Elsewhere, the RAF participated in the Korean War under the auspices of the United Nations and supported French and British ground forces during the 1956 Suez Crisis. From 1945 to 1967 the RAF maintained an air base in Aden on the Arabian Peninsula and supported British Army operations in that area. In 1982 the RAF was among the British forces that recaptured the Falkland Islands from Argentina. The RAF participated in NATO exercises in the 1950s through the 1990s and was deployed to the Persian Gulf in the first and second Gulf Wars and in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Imperial Policing in the Interwar Era I

Imperial Policing in the Interwar Era II

Federation of Malayan Police officers question a civilian during the Malayan Emergency.

Imperial Policing

Imperial policing had little to do with policing as it is now generally understood in the Western world. The task assigned to colonial policemen was essentially to impose and maintain foreign rule over the peoples of the empire, with the aim of protecting the metropole’s interests at home and abroad. This generally involved, potentially or actually, a great deal of forcible compulsion. Colonial constables were “civil soldiers,” state agents of socioracial control who enforced Western modes of behavior and belief on imperial subjects.

Policemen were distinguished from other state servants by their authorized capacity to coerce civilians. But in England, from 1829 onward, they increasingly sought acceptance from the populace. Under this “new police” ethos- policing by consent- constables in England were supposed to protect rather than oppress the public. Focusing on suppressing behavior deemed to be antisocial, and basing their methods on intensely scrutinizing society, they sought primarily to prevent crimes, with detection of offenders as a backup. When it was necessary to detain or coerce, they were expected to use minimal force. The aim was to attain a society in which most people policed themselves, at least most of the time; state discipline would need to be applied only to recalcitrant individuals rather than to collectivities.

This desired state of affairs, consent- based state policing coupled with mass self- policing, was also an ultimate aim in colonies. But it was predicated on a high degree of acceptance of authority, which was not forthcoming. Since colonial authorities sought to exploit indigenous human and natural resources, popular resistance to them was endemic (although aspects of Western culture were welcomed by indigenes able to access them). Colonized peoples were in turn subject to suppression, repression, and often violent mass disciplining. In such circumstances, the precepts of the “new police” that had been put in place in Britain could generally only remain a distant aspiration in the colonies.

In most colonies, most of the time, the policing function was akin to military control (and indeed sometimes carried out by or with soldiers). The main exception was in colonies of settlement where English policing precepts were increasingly adopted as the frontier retreated. Even here, however, police forces retained a highly coercive capacity in case further “pacification” of indigenes or others was needed. And although public order had generally improved by the early 20th century, this was both relative and uneven between (and often within) colonies. Improvement could also turn out to be temporary. Indeed, after World War II, conflict- based policing often intensified amid escalating challenges to the state from movements demanding decolonization.

The ethos of colonial policing was, therefore, by the very nature of imperial occupation, different from the consent- based aims first developed in the London Metropolitan Police. Rather, it reflected (and was often guided by) policing in the closest “colony” to Britain, Ireland. Although all policemen had the power to compel and coerce, those of the (Royal) Irish Constabulary (RIC) were far more overtly coercive than their English counter parts, tasked as they were with controlling a people generally hostile to British occupation. Colonial practices not only reflected the Irish system, but often exceeded it in their violence- a product of the magnitude of the task of occupying territories and containing their peoples.

There were, however, many characteristics shared by the English and Irish/colonial policing models (including the ultimate aim of securing a society characterized by peace and good order), and the boundaries between them were porous. In particular, both systems were based on patrols conducting in- depth surveillance of the population and, when necessary, compelling obedience. The rank- and- file constables in both models were, moreover, of humble origin- not only cheaper and easier to train, but also steeped in knowledge of the behaviors and beliefs of those sections of society upon which the police most focused.

But there were major differences in operational principle between the models. The organization, ethos, and operations of the Irish/colonial police were paramilitary (sometimes military) in nature. By contrast, the English system increasingly adopted a “like policing like” approach, with constables operating within, and with the general support of, their communities. Although most higher-ranking colonial policemen were British, the great majority of rank- and- file policemen were indigenous, and in that sense might be said to fit the “like policing like” category. But essentially, colonial patrolmen were instead characterized by the “stranger policing stranger” principle. They were recruited from outside the communities they policed, a policy based on outsiders being generally far more prepared than insiders to exercise harsh discipline on those around them. Stranger- constables generally lived in fortified barracks, patrolled in heavily armed groups, and were highly disciplined, ready to obey orders and inflict violence without hesitation. Colonial patrols would commonly descend on tribes defying the authorities, laying waste to their villages and maiming and killing. Drawn from other communities, tribes, peoples, or colonies, they might well be unable to speak the language of those they disciplined.

Colonial policing was a blunt instrument of social and racial control, often paying little regard to the law, let alone to ” human rights.” Insofar as it was involved in crime control, this was crime as defined by colonial authorities and systems. These were generally flexible in allowing police (and judiciary) to suppress any activity deemed to be against the interests of state security and colonial order. Many of the colonial state’s disciplinary actions, in any case, were conducted with little or no reference to the formal laws, of which the (sometimes illiterate) constables knew little. They had a job to do, one which by its very nature was often performed with force and brutality; violence was endemic in colonial policing.

Caproni Bombers: Army versus Navy in Italy

Pictures from С уважением Шепс А.С. (Sheps Aron)

All the plans and progress implemented thus far, whether in France or the United States, would come to naught without the aircraft necessary to conduct offensive operations. Upon this one issue hinged the success or failure of the entire venture. Once the Navy Department reached the decision to proceed with plans to establish a bombing group in Europe, it became abundantly clear to planners in Washington that no night bombers would be forthcoming from America. As early as April 4, 1918, Admiral Sims was advised by cablegram to secure them abroad, if possible. He responded on the 21st, passing on Captain Cone’s request for authority to place a contract with the Italians to purchase needed Capronis in exchange for Liberty motors and raw materials.

Cone’s involvement with Caproni began late in 1917 when representatives from the firm offered to supply its aircraft to the U.S. Navy in Europe. Plans to obtain bombers for work in Flanders were initiated in February 1918, when Lt. Edward McDonnell, then a member of Cone’s staff in Paris, was dispatched to Italy to investigate aviation conditions there, paying particular attention to bombing operations and aircraft. While in Italy, McDonnell met with Signore Caproni on several occasions, toured his factory, and made flights in the industrialist’s planes, including a three-engine, 450-hp bomber. Designated the Ca. 3 by the Italian Army, it was the most numerous Caproni bomber in use. During one of his test flights the huge machine—with an Italian pilot at the controls—performed a complete loop. McDonnell rightly considered this to be a remarkable feat for such a large plane. The 450-hp bomber was powered by three very reliable Isotta-Franschini motors. Rated at 150 horsepower, the motor had an excellent record and performed well at the front. The Ca. 3 was highly maneuverable (as indicated by its ability to complete a loop) and capable of carrying a 1,000-lb bomb load to an altitude of 15,000 feet.

McDonnell was so enthused by the plane that he requested permission to fly one from Milan to the front where he spent time with a bombing squadron and even took part in a raid behind Austrian lines, serving as the front cockpit gunner. After returning to Milan, McDonnell met again with Signor Caproni to discuss a new airplane then under development, a 600-hp model powered by three 200-hp Fiat engines that was reputed to have nearly double the bomb-carrying capacity of the Ca. 3 and a top speed of 105 mph.

After returning to France in mid-March, McDonnell was sent to the northern front and attached to 7 Squadron, RNAS, where he flew as a front and rear gunner in combat raids behind the front lines. As a result of this experience, he came away believing that the 600-hp Caproni under development seemed to have advantages over the Handley Page then being flown by 7 Squadron. This information must have been passed to Admiral Sims when McDonnell traveled through London on his way to Washington, D.C., at the beginning of April. And it was certainly forwarded to naval authorities in Washington after he arrived, ensuring the ready acceptance of Cone’s proposal to obtain Caproni aircraft for the Northern Bombing Campaign.

With Sims’ approval in hand, Cone dispatched Lt. (jg) Harry F. Guggenheim and Spenser Grey—now bearing the rank of a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Air Force—to Rome to negotiate the purchase of Caproni’s aircraft with the Italian government. Guggenheim, an experienced businessman, was the son of one of the wealthiest men in America. In 1917, anticipating his country’s entry into the First World War, he purchased a Curtiss flying boat and learned to fly. After America entered the war, he helped form a naval aviation unit in Manhasset, New York, and was commissioned as a lieutenant, junior grade, in the U.S. Navy Reserve Force. He served as Cone’s business aide until March 1, 1918, when he was appointed director of the Administrative Division in charge of all business and industrial activities. Guggenheim was the logical choice to negotiate the contract and was ordered to Rome to work with Grey, who was already in Italy as part of a commission studying the question of establishing air bases for the U.S. Navy.

Even before their arrival in Italy, the Navy’s plan to acquire land bombers for use against the enemy ignited a firestorm at the U.S. Air Service’s European headquarters then under the command of Brig. Gen. Benjamin D. Foulois. Relations between the two forces were already strained over a dispute between Cone and Foulois concerning the structure and membership of the Joint Army-Navy Aircraft Committee that had been created to organize and coordinate aircraft procurement activities of U.S. armed forces abroad. What should have been a simple administrative matter became a major issue when Foulois insisted on a majority representation for the Army, despite General Pershing’s instructions that three Army and three Navy members be appointed. After the first few meetings in December 1917, it became clear that Foulois was uncooperative, forcing Cone to request dissolution of the committee.

Foulois complained bitterly in April when he learned that 734 scarce Liberty engines had been allocated to the Navy, asking his superiors in Washington why these engines, which were desperately needed by all of the Allied air services, had been given to the Navy. He hit the ceiling several weeks later when he discovered that the Navy was planning a separate bombing offensive against enemy submarine facilities using land planes operated from bases on the Western Front. “Present military emergencies,” he wrote in a cable sent to Washington under Pershing’s signature on May 3, “demand that the air services of the allied armies be given all priority in advance of the air service of the allied navies. The air supremacy of the Allies on the western front is only held by a narrow margin at the present.”

When this cable was sent the Germans’ spring offensive was in full swing and presented a grave danger to the Western Front. Although the enemy’s offensive toward the Channel ports had been contained, in the center of the Allied line, the Germans still held the initiative. Nevertheless, the War Department, acutely aware of the need to keep the sea-lanes to Europe open, reaffirmed the Navy’s bombing measures against the enemy’s submarine bases, cabling back:

Priority to United States Navy Air Services for aviation materials necessary to equip and arm seaplane bases was approved by War Department, November 1, 1917. On March 17, 1918, War Department approved request of Navy Department that 80 two-seater pursuit planes be delivered to Navy on or about May 15, to be used in bombing operations. On May 2, War Department acceded to request of Navy that this number be raised to 155, but deliveries distributed over longer period. On April 10, War Department concurred with Navy Department that operations against submarines in their bases was purely naval work. Seven hundred and thirty-four Liberty engines have been allocated to Navy for delivery prior to July 1. No allocations have been made after that date. Navy Department for last year has left matter of engine production entirely in the hands of the War Department, and is in this respect wholly dependent for the operations of their Aviation Service. War Department, May 7, carefully reviewed entire matter, in view of your cables, and had decided that no changes can be made at present in priority decision.

Lieutenant Guggenheim arrived in Rome amidst the imbroglio surrounding the issue of the Navy’s land planes. One of his first tasks required meeting with Capt. Fiorello La Guardia, the Army’s Air Service representative in Italy. La Guardia, a first-term congressman from New York City, had joined the Air Service in the summer of 1917 and learned to fly in Italy at Foggia. This was something of a homecoming for the Italian-American airman, for Foggia was his father’s birthplace. In February 1918, La Guardia was designated to represent the Joint Army-Navy Aircraft Committee in Paris with the Italian authorities. This brought him into contact with Lt. Cdr. John L. “Lanny” Callan, Cone’s hand-picked representative in Italy. Callan—a native of Cohoes, New York—was an ideal selection for the post having a long and intimate association with Italian aeronautics. While employed by Curtiss, he met Capt. Ludovici De Filippi, who later played a critical role in the Italian Navy’s Mediterranean aviation operations. Following the outbreak of war in Europe, Callan sailed to Italy as a Curtiss sales representative. In January 1915, authorities there requested that Callan oversee establishment of their first aeronautics school at Taranto. Curtiss granted permission and in February “Lanny” became chief instructor and assistant to the commandant of the facility. After extensive military service in Italy, he returned to the United States and joined the Navy.

In early March 1918, while plans were being formulated for a bombing campaign against the U-boat bases, Cone asked Callan to make inquiries regarding the Italians’ ability to produce Capronis. Callan replied that eight factories were available. These inquiries brought Callan into contact with La Guardia, who was also seeking bombers on behalf of the Army’s aerial effort in Italy. Previous efforts to obtain Capronis for the Air Service had been initiated in August 1917 when the Bolling Mission first visited Italy but were never fulfilled in part because the country lacked the materials needed to construct them.

At first Callan assumed he and La Guardia could work together amicably, as both had a vested interest in expediting pilot training and production of Caproni aircraft. In a letter to Cone dated March 27, 1919, he reported being able to utilize La Guardia as an alternate conduit of information from the Commissary General of Italian Aeronautics Eugenio Chiesa. Callan met La Guardia a second time in late March, when the New Yorker urged completion of a naval air station on the Adriatic as a spur to Caproni production. At that time, Callan observed that “La Guardia may be a politician, but he is certainly a very influential one here.”

At this juncture, the Navy offered to supply lumber and other materials for its own orders, but La Guardia accused the sailors of playing foul because they controlled transatlantic shipping. He immediately launched a lobbying program that proved highly offensive to Cdr. Charles R. Train, the U.S. naval attaché in Rome. Train informed Paris that his efforts “were frustrated and position greatly embarrassed by the actions of Captain La Guardia,” who undercut the attaché by personally interfering with the Commissary General of Italian Aeronautics. The congressman, according to Train’s letter, claimed that Navy representatives had no authority to negotiate, nor could they guarantee shipments.

La Guardia played a double game, however. On one hand he did everything he could to sabotage the Navy’s efforts to procure Capronis; on the other he tried to placate the Italian authorities by encouraging the Navy’s intentions to operate in the Adriatic. Because the U.S. Army had no plans to employ Capronis south of the Alps, the Italians had little incentive to fill the Army’s orders for the scarce bombers. If the Navy conducted real combat operations on the Venetian front or elsewhere, however, local authorities might be more amenable to allocating aircraft to the Americans.

Despite the personal animosities that arose between La Guardia and his Navy counterparts, Lieutenant Guggenheim was able to negotiate an agreement—known as the May 10 agreement—with Signor Chiesa that provided for the purchase of thirty aircraft to be delivered in June and July, and eighty more in August, twenty in September, and twenty per month thereafter. In return, the U.S. Naval Forces, Foreign Service would recommend to Admiral Sims that high priority be given to both purchases and shipment of raw material ordered by the Italian government from the United States for the manufacture of aircraft and sufficient raw material would be shipped to Italy by the Navy to compensate for supplies diverted to the planes manufactured for U.S. naval aviation in Italy. The parties never formally signed the agreement, however, and despite several arbitrary modifications made by Signor Chiesa, Italy proved unable to fulfill the terms of the deal.

As the weeks passed there was little movement on either the production or training front. Competition between the services intensified and acerbic charges and countercharges flew back and forth. Cone in Paris, sensing that trouble was brewing, sent word to Capt. Noble Irwin in Washington at the end of May that La Guardia—as a New York politician—was principally concerned in pushing a large general project looking toward a campaign in Congress. He remained decidedly unenthusiastic about working with the Italian-American airman, warning that his people in Rome believed La Guardia had used “underhanded methods” and tried to oppose the Navy’s plans to obtain Capronis.

Word of the discord quickly got back to AEF headquarters—perhaps carried by La Guardia himself, who visited Paris in early May and, as the Navy believed, spread false reports of the negotiations with the Italians. In response, Pershing penned a personal letter to Sims describing a “lack of coordination between officers who are handling the U.S. Army and Navy Air Service in Europe.” He charged that there were instances when the services had come into competition in obtaining material, creating an unfavorable impression with the Allies that might affect other areas of cooperation. Somewhat taken aback by these charges, Sims wished to respond to the Army chief and solicited Cone’s “immediate” opinion.

Cone replied without delay, dispatching a cable to Sims the next day. He had already shown the admiral’s communication to Col. Halsey Dunwoody, assistant chief of the Air Service for supply, who asserted, “perfect coordination between our offices exists” in all technical and supply questions. Cone recalled that when he first arrived in France cooperation at all levels had been very good, but recently “it has been impossible to get in close touch with the Chief of the Air Service [Foulois],” another Navy nemesis. He denied that the services competed for material, stating that everything was obtained through the Franco-American Mission and the Army General Purchasing Board. With regard to the Caproni contretemps, the likely source of Pershing’s comments was a rat named La Guardia. Cone worried that close cooperation meant letting the War Department handle the Navy’s business, something he did not believe them capable of doing.

Meanwhile, the Air Service experienced its own internal discord, with General Foulois in particular. To remedy this situation, Pershing appointed Brig. Gen. Mason M. Patrick as new chief of the AEF Air Service in late May, moving Foulois to another assignment. Patrick and Cone then sat down to thrash out various issues. Cone offered to let the Army conduct negotiations for Capronis, but objected to La Guardia’s involvement. Patrick stood by his troublesome subordinate, but promised the New Yorker “would faithfully care for the Navy’s interests.” Attempting to put the squabbling behind them, the senior officers drafted a joint memorandum on May 31 addressed to the, Italian Aeronautical Mission Paris, declaring that the Army would represent Navy interests in Rome and they would use their combined efforts to secure raw materials for Italy. Any previous agreements between the Navy and the Italian government remained in force.

Part of the plan to utilize Italian bombers required sending Navy mechanics and engineers to Caproni, Fiat, and Isotta Fraschini factories. Lt. (jg) Austin Potter, the officer in charge of the Fiat and Caproni divisions, spent weeks studying at Italian factories and flying fields, where he subsisted on a diet of pasta, goat milk ice cream, and mutton of “uncertain age but unmistakable flavor.” A keen observer of the local scene, he described Fiat shops filled with soldiers returned from the front, those with influential friends, a few youths, and bloomer-clad, black-frocked young women. Work hours stretched from 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with one and a half hours off for lunch. Everyone labored on a piecework basis, with maximum earnings of 10 lire per day—equivalent to about $1.35 at that time.

To Potter, manufacturing methods used in the Italian factories seemed primitive. Much of the work was being done by manual labor that would have been performed by precise machine tools in the United States. He decried the inadequate inspection of machining and assembly operations, and was critical of the working drawings prepared by the Italian engineers, which lacked exact tolerances. Instead, the drawings contained symbols, squares, circles, indicating “force fit,” “tight fit,” “easy/sweet fit,” and “running fit,” and so forth and so on.

While American mechanics studied in various factories, fifteen Navy pilots led by Lt. (jg) Sam Walker reported to the aviation school at Malpensa in early June. The largest training facility in Italy with perhaps three hundred officers under instruction, Malpensa was situated forty-five minutes north of Milan by electric trolley. The airfield, about three miles square, lay in the stunningly beautiful lake country. During practice flights, students often passed over Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, ascending into the foothills of the Alps. American trainees lived with Italian officers and followed the same rules and regulations as their hosts. Accommodations were clean and comfortable, but the flying schedule differed greatly from that employed in the United States. Instruction began at 5:30 a.m. and continued until 10:30 a.m. Next, everyone sat down to a large meal, followed by a lengthy nap lasting until late afternoon, when instruction resumed, sometimes until ten in the evening. All this was designed to avoid the intense midday heat.

The continued lack of Caproni deliveries, however, cast a pall over the training program. What was the use of learning to fly the things, after all, if none could be supplied. The delivery issue was further clouded by the Italians’ reluctance to provide accurate or timely information on when bombers would be available. Unresolved problems limited output so that very few planes were produced, perhaps thirty to forty in June, and forty to fifty in July; far too few to meet the competing needs of all of the Allied air services.

While sensible in terms of presenting a united front with Italian authorities, the May 31 Army-Navy agreement only inflamed suspicions of the airmen of both services stationed in Italy and cooperation proved short-lived. La Guardia, according to Commander Train, rarely visited Rome and proved nearly impossible to contact. Word filtered down that the congressman connived at Malpensa for Army aviators to receive priority training. In a letter to Robert Lovett at Paris headquarters, Callan charged that “La Guardia was profuse in his denials, but Train doesn’t believe him.” Sam Walker had a particular bone to pick, reporting that “La Guardia was all for the Army . . . letting the Navy twiddle its thumbs.” Callan requested that Walker keep him informed, as “it was very important for us to know whether he is working for us or against us.” Callan approached the Italian Ministry of Marine and received assurances that the major had been instructed not to interfere. Well aware of the criticism, the embattled congressman attempted to set the record straight with a lengthy communication to General Patrick. La Guardia claimed the Navy acted “so queer and unfair down here,” that Captain Cone must surely be misinformed of the conditions in Italy. In a tightly spaced, six-page memo he detailed point and counterpoint of his actions and the Navy’s lack of cooperation, duplicity, and misrepresentation. “I need not point out,” he concluded, “that the Navy’s attitude in this matter was anything but fair and just.”

Eventually, the arrival of Maj. Robert Glendenning, La Guardia’s replacement, went a long way toward soothing Navy suspicions and restoring a healthy measure of inter-service amity. Though inexperienced, Glendenning proved “a much more satisfactory representative than the former.” Nonetheless, the war of memos and charges continued into early August, even after La Guardia relinquished his former duties. Callan sent a personal communication to Cone in Paris, including much of his correspondence with the Army representative, “together with memoranda I made on La Guardia’s answer.” In several places, Callan included underlines and special notes for emphasis, “In order that you may see for yourself exactly how he acted down here and know that he has not represented us in the proper manner or worked for the best interests of the service.” Under no circumstances, Callan declared, should the Navy deal with La Guardia. The New York congressman, it seems, had left everybody in the lurch, including his own replacement, and his actions in the final two weeks of his tenure “were absolutely intolerable.”

Unfortunately, belated cooperation between the Army and Navy did nothing to speed construction of critically needed Caproni bombers or remediate the severe defects that soon became apparent in the small number handed over to American forces. The decision to rely on Italy as the sole source of crucial aircraft proved to be a fatally flawed one from which the Northern Bombing Group never recovered.


The armed forces of all five countries covered in this article, although they have been significantly enlarged and modernized, remain small and weak, incapable of offering credible deterrence against attack from larger neighbors, let alone great powers outside of the Gulf region. Until 1961 in Kuwait and 1971 in the other states, the British were responsible for external security. Thus the development of modern armed forces began only recently. Their small populations preclude the creation of large land forces; they have largely concentrated investment in naval assets and air power. Their wealth permits acquisition of modern weapons systems which are not manpower-intensive and which hold greatest promise of blunting if not deterring the kinds of threats posed and on several occasions carried out by Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and, of course, by Iraq against Kuwait in August 1990. A brief description of the armed forces of the Gulf Arab states and their incipient attempts at military cooperation follows.


The military forces of Oman, numbering 41,700 (including 6,000 in the Royal Guard of Oman), are a volunteer force and among the most professional and best trained in the Gulf. Their quality reflects the long involvement of seconded and contract military personnel from Great Britain, up to the highest levels, and the experience of combat in two operations against domestic military threats in the Jebel Akhdar campaign of the 1950s and the Dhofar Rebellion of the 1960s and 1970s. The ruler, Sultan Qabus bin Said, is a graduate of Sandhurst and, as supreme commander, takes a very close interest in the armed forces. The Royal Army of Oman (RAO), formerly the Sultan of Oman’s Land Forces (SOLF), accounts for 25,000 of the personnel of the Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF). The SAF dates from 1958 when, with British advice and assistance, it was formed from separate security forces.

Throughout the 1980s, British officers held many of the senior positions in the Sultan’s Armed Forces, but by the following decade Omanis had filled them. However, British personnel still play an important role. For example, there remain some 400 British personnel in the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO), as well as a rather significant number of Pakistanis. Moreover, there continues to be a close association between the Omani and British military forces as reflected in the joint maneuvers called Operation Swift Sword, which in September-October 2001 involved 23,000 military personnel on Omani soil and in the sea off Oman. The Royal Army of Oman remains essentially a light infantry force, which could counter the threat of an immediate neighbor or fight a delaying action against the invasion of a more powerful foe. It is organized in four brigades and 18 battalions and served by 200 tanks and 150 artillery pieces. The RAO is armed mainly with a variety of British and U.S. weapons.

The Royal Navy of Oman (RNO), created in 1975 as the Sultan of Oman’s Navy (SON), is a light but effective patrol force that faced the threat of the Iranian navy in the Strait of Hormuz during the Iran-Iraq war. Its personnel has been expanding in recent years, currently numbering 4,000, and its craft include nine combat vessels and 56 patrol craft armed with guns and surface-to-surface missiles. In 2005, the RNO was reportedly about to receive 12 small, high-speed patrol boats from Abu Dhabi and to select the builder of three new state-of-the-art patrol boats in a $600 million deal.

The Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO), formerly the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force (SOAF), was formed in 1959 and numbers about 5,000 men. It has had jet fighter aircraft and helicopters in its inventory since 1969 and currently comprises 30 combat aircraft, over 40 transport aircraft, and 49 helicopters together with air defenses of 58 light surface-to-air missile (SAM) launchers. The air force continues to receive the lion’s share of new weaponry, reflecting the primary importance that all the Gulf Arab states accord to air power as their principal line of defense. In 2005, the RAFO began taking delivery of 12 F-16 jet fighters. Together with these advanced aircraft, Oman will receive advanced armaments including Harpoon antiship missiles and JDAM precision-guided munitions in a deal amounting to $850 million. This is the first aircraft order from the United States and reflects a shift away from overwhelming reliance on Great Britain as arms supplier. In addition to the United States, a number of European countries, Canada, and Pakistan also supply weapons to Oman. Jordan and Turkey have provided training along with Britain and the United States. Defense outlays have grown modestly in the past few years, amounting to $2.44 billion in 2003, 11.6 percent of GDP.

Prior to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, Oman had shown a greater willingness than the other Gulf Arab states to cooperate openly with the West in the military sphere. In the late 1970s and early 1980s agreements were reached with the United States to provide for American access to Omani facilities, especially in emergency situations. Supplies were prepositioned at military facilities, several of which the United States undertook to upgrade, most importantly the air base on Masirah Island. By the mid-1980s the Omani government had grown noticeably less enthusiastic toward overt military cooperation with the United States, as was apparent in the strained 1985 negotiations that granted an extension of U.S. access rights.

This reflected in part Oman’s establishment in 1985 of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, which had come to appear less menacing under Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as the normalization of relations with the Soviets’ Arabian Peninsula protégé, South Yemen. It was also presumably occasioned by a more neutral stance vis-à-vis Iran, as Oman attempted to move away from confrontation to a kind of modus vivendi. Nevertheless, together with the other Gulf Arab states, Oman made available its facilities, especially military airfields, to assist Desert Shield/Desert Storm operations following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The principal U.S. defense agreement, made in June 1980, was renegotiated in December 1990. Following the New York/Washington terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Oman made available its facilities for the U.S. and British operations against al-Qa‘eda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The United States declared Oman one of the key nations in the fight against terrorism. Omani-U.S. military relations have become increasingly close and extensive; the United States has access to airfields, storage and prepositioning facilities, a communications center, and naval facilities.


Of all the Gulf Arab states Kuwait has been in the most vulnerable military position, in immediate proximity to two threatening and overwhelmingly more powerful neighbors. Iran menaced Kuwait throughout the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88, taking direct action against its territory on more than one occasion. From the beginning of the 20th century, fear of the Ottoman Empire and subsequently of independent Iraq has deeply influenced Kuwait’s defensive posture. Since Kuwait’s independence in 1961, Iraq has several times bluffed military invasions either to redraw disputed borders or to enforce claims to all of Kuwait’s territory, and in August 1990, invaded and occupied its neighbor.

Against the wholly disproportionate forces of either of these two neighbors, Kuwait’s armed forces, totalling 12,000 men, could expect to do little more than cause significant damage to the invader and delay his progress, while awaiting the aid of other GCC states and over-the-horizon U.S. forces. In the event of Iraq’s invasion on August 2, 1990, it did less than that. Despite the massing of Iraqi troops on the border, previous false alarms had persuaded the Kuwaiti leadership that they faced only another bluff. The defense minister downgraded the armed state of alert just before the invasion, and a large part of the Kuwaiti officer corps was permitted to remain on leave. As a result, virtually no organized resistance was offered, with the defense minister joining most of the rest of the ruling family in quickly fleeing to Saudi Arabia. (Fand al-Ahmad, a brother of the ruler, gave his life leading troops against the Iraqi onslaught.)

Kuwait’s modern military dates to 1948. After independence in 1961, the military was reorganized with the air force separated from the civil aviation department, and in 1970 the Kuwait Military Academy graduated its first class. The navy was established in 1973 and in 1976 compulsory military service of two years (one year for university graduates) was decreed for all Kuwaiti males and a military reserve was established. Total active forces number 15,500 men and there are 24,000 reserves. Omanis and other non-nationals serve in the armed forces.

The army comprises 11,000 troops organized in three armored brigades, two of them mechanized, and one each assigned to artillery, border defense, and the Royal Guard. The National Guard, a paramilitary force of 5,000, is assigned guard duties on the border and in the oil fields. While earlier purchases of weapons for the army were heavily influenced by political rationale, attempting to steer a neutralist course between the United States and the Soviet Union, the recent acquisitions have more directly reflected military need. The United States and Great Britain are the leading suppliers; the American Abrams tank accounts for the bulk of the army’s armor.

While the active armed forces personnel have been reduced in the past four years, from 19,500 to 15,500, the navy has been enlarged to 2,000. It serves as a coastal defense force, with 10 combat vessels, some outfitted with Exocet surface-to-surface missiles, and 77 patrol craft.

As in Oman, special emphasis has been placed on the development of the air force, which has 2,500 personnel. It is tied into the Saudi Arabian air defense network so as to be able to utilize information provided by the Saudis’ Air Warning and Control System (AWACS). In 1988, the Reagan administration concluded a deal with Kuwait for the sale of 40 F-18 fighter-bombers and about 600 Maverick missiles for a reported $1.9 billion. The aircraft replaced U.S.-manufactured A-4s that were in Kuwait’s inventory, with deliveries of the F-18s completed in 1994. In addition to the F/A-18C/D advanced multirole combat aircraft now in its inventory, Kuwait is procuring F/A-18E/Fs. Kuwaiti pilots acquitted themselves well during Desert Storm, flying missions from Saudi airfields in the aging A-4s that they had flown out of Kuwait as the Iraqis invaded. The lack of qualified pilots to man the aircraft in its inventory remains a significant problem for the Kuwaiti air force.

As with the other Gulf Arab states, a major weakness of the Kuwaiti armed forces has been their extensive dependence on foreign advisers for daily management and operation. The country’s large arms inventory suffers from its mix of U.S., British, French, and Soviet weaponry with limited interoperability as well as simply the inability to absorb effectively the sheer amount of sophisticated weaponry. To some extent, the U.S.-assisted restructuring of the Kuwaiti military over the past decade has addressed these weaknesses.

In the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion and occupation, a certain ambivalence has marked Kuwaiti thinking on how best to provide for the state’s future security. Some were persuaded that Kuwait must look in large part to enhanced military power of its own to counter future aggressors, and in 1991 Kuwait earmarked some $5 billion to strengthen its armed forces. Its annual defense expenditures are about 11 percent of GDP, $3.81 billion in 2002. However, the prevailing view was that, whatever improvement might be effected in its own military capabilities, Kuwait would be obliged to depend on powerful friends for its essential security. After having previously seen the United States as, at most, a distant over-the-horizon presence, Kuwait had initialed a Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States in September 1991 to stockpile U.S. military equipment and engage in joint training and exercises. In subsequent months, several exercises were carried out with the U.S. Marines as well as with the British Royal Marines. In early 1993 Kuwait signed a defense memorandum with the Russian Federation.

In April 2001, Kuwait and the United States agreed on a 10-year renewal of the 1991 pact permitting U.S. forces to use Kuwaiti facilities and station troops and equipment there. In 2002 and 2003, the American-led coalition’s build-up for the conflict that was initiated with Iraq in March 2003 brought large numbers of military personnel, particularly American and British, to Kuwait (about 24,000 Americans were there in 2005); vast quantities of matériel from the United States have been shipped through Kuwaiti ports. The close cooperation between the two countries during the prosecution of the war and the operations against the drawn-out insurgency that has followed has linked Kuwaiti security still more closely to the United States. This was symbolized on April 1, 2004, when U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Kuwaiti Minister of Defense Jabir Muhammad al-Hamad Al Sabah presided over a ceremony designating Kuwait a major non-NATO ally of the United States.


The Bahrain Defense Force (BDF), established soon after independence in 1971, comprises army, navy, air defense, and Royal Guard units. Its personnel number 11,000, making the BDF the smallest military establishment in the Middle East. Military service is voluntary. Separate from the BDF, the public security forces and coast guard report to the Ministry of the Interior. Bahrain’s defense spending has been fairly steady and substantial, though lower as a percentage of GDP than the other GCC states; in 2003, it was $618.1 million, 7.5 percent of GDP. Like the other Gulf Arab states, Bahrain has focused its defense efforts on its air power, the Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) or Bahrain Amiri Air Force (before the emirate’s designation as a kingdom in 2002). The air force began modestly with two small helicopters in 1977. A 1985 purchase of Northrop F-5s from the United States was Bahrain’s first acquisition of fixed-wing military aircraft. In 1987, 12 F-16s were added to the dozen F-5s already in service. Despite this upgrading of naval and air forces, the BDF remains a largely token military force. In 2000, delivery of a second squadron of F-16s, equipped to carry the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile, commenced. The original F-16s are being upgraded to carry the missile as well, and in early 2003 Bahrain deployed Patriot missile interceptor batteries obtained from the United States. In addition, an academy for pilots was established. These developments have significantly improved the RBAF. The army has also been strengthened, largely with American weapons, including 54 M60A3 tanks. The navy remains modest, an efficient patrol force whose acquisition of attack gunboats and missile boats makes it also a small combat force.

Bahrain inherited good military facilities from the British, for whom the island had been a significant military asset in the Gulf. These included an airfield and naval base. Following the British military withdrawal in 1971, the U.S. Navy’s Middle East Force, which had maintained a small flotilla at Jufair since 1949, was permitted to retain home-porting privileges. Since 1977 a new agreement permitting U.S. warships to call for supplies upon request has essentially extended the earlier agreement with a lower profile. U.S. access to Bahraini facilities in the Gulf crisis of 1990-91 was Bahrain’s most important contribution to Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The United States completed a defense agreement with Bahrain in September 1991. Since then, the United States has provided military technical assistance and training through foreign military sales (FMS), commercial sources, excess defense article sales (EDA), and through the International Military and Education Training (IMET) program. In 2003 and 2004, the U.S. Navy conducted Exercise Neon Response, an annual bilateral “training evolution” with the BDF to “enhance foreign relations and operational techniques” between the two countries. In October 2001, President George W. Bush announced the designation of Bahrain as a “major non-NATO ally,” underscoring the closeness of U.S.-Bahraini military security relations.

In 2004, Bahrain became the first Gulf Arab state to promote women to a senior rank in the military when two female officers achieved the rank of colonel. Each was a medical doctor, one being the head of the military hospital’s radiology department and the other the head of its maternity department.


With its small population of not more than 850,000, the bulk of it non-Qatari, Qatar could not defend itself against any probable aggressor. It has relied for its security primarily upon efforts to promote political stability in the Gulf and upon the protection provided by friends. Like Bahrain, Qatar is covered by the Saudi AWACS umbrella and combat aircraft.

The commander in chief of the armed forces is Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruler since June 1995. In 2002, Qatar and the United States foiled a coup by mid-level Qatari army officers who were opposed to the American military presence in the emirate, as a result of which the ruling family increased its direct supervision over the military. In September 2003, the emir appointed his son, Crown Prince Tamim (who had replaced his older brother, Jassem, as heir apparent in August), to the position of deputy chief of the armed forces. The armed forces number 11,800 personnel, making them the second smallest in the Middle East after Bahrain. Manpower shortages have led to reliance on personnel from other countries, particularly Oman. Military service is compulsory for males who do not graduate from secondary school, and volunteers are accepted from the age of 18.

The ground forces number 8,500 organized in two brigades. The Royal Guard comprises one brigade, while the other incorporates armored, mechanized, and artillery battalions. Weaponry includes 44 tanks, with negotiations under way for purchase of another 80. These, like approximately 80 percent of Qatar’s arms, are French. Air force personnel number 1,500 and the principal combat aircraft are a dozen advanced multirole Mirages. The navy, with 1,800 personnel, has seven combat vessels whose armaments include Exocet surface-to-surface missiles in addition to 17 patrol craft. In June 1992, Qatar signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States, which has been progressively expanded. In April 2003, the United States announced that the U.S. Combat Air Operations Center for the Middle East would be moved to Al-Udhaid Air Base in Qatar, a logistics hub for U.S. operations in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, and a key center for those in Iraq. Additionally, Camp Al-Sayliyyah, the largest pre-positioning facility for U.S. equipment in the world, served as the forward command center for CENTCOM personnel during the invasion of Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom. While France continues to be the principal arms supplier, the United States has joined France and Great Britain as the leading sources of military training.

The United Arab Emirates.

Of the five countries covered in this srticle, the UAE has devoted by far the greatest expenditures, overall and per capita, to the development of its armed forces. The UAE’s armed forces evolved from the Trucial Oman Levies (TOL), later known as the Trucial Oman Scouts (TOS), created by the British in 1951 to maintain order among the tribes of the then-Trucial States. By 1971 this was a well-trained, British-officered force of 1,600, drawing 40 percent of its recruits locally, 30 percent from Oman, and the balance from Iran, Pakistan, and India. In that year the TOS became the Union Defense Force (UDF), with its headquarters in Sharjah. From the beginning of independence, however, there were separate forces in each emirate, the Abu Dhabi Defense Force, established in the late 1960s, being the largest. Since the emirate rulers’ pledge in 1976 to merge their forces, the country has moved slowly toward effective integration.

The total UAE armed forces manpower is over 72,000, with approximately 60,000 troops headquartered in Abu Dhabi and 12,000 in the Central Command in the emirate of Dubai to whose defense it is primarily committed. The UAE has invested heavily in recent years in strengthening its armed forces. It continues to rely on troop force from other Arab countries, particularly Oman and Pakistan, but the officers are now almost exclusively UAE nationals. Like the other Gulf Arab states, it has emphasized the development of its air force but with its sizable oil revenues has been able to expand its airpower far beyond that of any of the other GCC states excepting Saudi Arabia. Indeed, with the acquisition of 140 advanced strike aircraft, the UAE has become one of the best-equipped air forces in the Middle East. From France, it received the first of 30 Mirage 2000-9 aircraft in late 2004; additionally its current fleet of 33 Mirage 2000-5 aircraft will be upgraded to the standard of the newer version. In 2005, the UAE began to take delivery of 80 F-16E/F Block Desert Falcons acquired in 2000 for $6.4 billion; delivery will be complete in 2007 and the planes are expected to remain in service beyond 2030. These aircraft and their advanced weapons systems will greatly enhance the UAE’s over-the-horizon capabilities and will provide interoperability with U.S. military forces in the region. Emirati pilots are being trained to fly the F-16s both in the UAE and in Arizona. Supplementing these are 33 transport aircraft, 88 training aircraft, and 102 helicopters in service.

The UAE’s ground forces number 59,000 personnel in a total of nine brigades. They reflect the greatest range of arms supply, with 388 French Leclerc battle tanks, delivery of which was completed in May 2004, representing the principal weapon of the three armored brigades. Great Britain, Germany, Russia, South Africa, Jordan, and Turkey are among the other countries that have recently supplied armaments for the ground forces. The UAE’s naval forces have 2,000 personnel and are equipped with 12 combat vessels, some of them built in Abu Dhabi, and 104 patrol craft, as well as 30 additional assault boats ordered in 2004. The navy also has 10 landing craft, with another 15 being delivered. The UAE is committed to building up its navy from a purely coastal defense force to one with blue-water capabilities.

Interestingly, women have begun to play a role in the UAE military. In 1991, following the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, Shaikha Fatima, wife of then UAE president Shaikh Zayid, took the lead in establishing the Khawla bint Al-Azwar Military School which trains women volunteers between the ages of 18 and 28 for military service. Female soldiers serve in secretarial, communications, and training positions. Some have been assigned with their male colleagues to peacekeeping duties in Kosovo. The highest-ranking female in the UAE armed forces is a colonel who heads the dental section of the medical corps.

Although the UAE has drawn on diverse sources of arms and confirmed its close security ties with France, long a leading source of arms, by signing a defense accord with that country in 1995, it has established an intimate security relationship with the United States since signing a bilateral defense pact in 1994. The F-16s acquired in 2000 were then superior to those in the U.S. inventory. They were outfitted with software codes to permit alteration of friend-or-foe designations on their cockpit displays, something never before shared with a non-NATO ally. Moreover, the UAE demanded and received from the United States advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAMs) that had not yet been sold to any Middle Eastern country, including Israel. Its request for approval of delivery of two E-2C Hawkeye 2000 airborne early warning (AEW) platforms went before the U.S. Congress in 2005. In January 2005, the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, Peter Rodman, led a Pentagon/State Department delegation to the UAE for the first meeting of the Joint Military Commission that formalized the two countries’ growing defense cooperation. Rodman confirmed that a military air flight-training center was now operational in the UAE and that pilots were being trained there and in Arizona to fly the F-16s. He cited “a variety of agreements, informal and formal” that the United States had concluded with the UAE and noted the intention to hold a regular series of bilateral meetings on security issues.

Attempts to integrate the Gulf Armed Forces. In 1981, the Gulf Arab states joined Saudi Arabia in forming the GCC. Their action was largely prompted by security concerns, following the Islamic revolution under Khomeini in Iran and the outbreak of the war between Iran and Iraq. The GCC’s decisions to establish a Gulf Arab arms industry and to coordinate arms purchases have not been realized to any great extent. There has been some progress toward a third goal, creating a rapid deployment force. In 1983 and 1984 exercises involving elements of all the GCC armed forces participated in joint exercises, and a number of bilateral exercises have been held since. “Peninsula Shield Force” is stationed at Hafr al-Batin in northeast Saudi Arabia.

In January 2001, the GCC states signed the region’s first defense pact in which they pledged to come to one another’s aid in the event of an attack against any of them. Agreement was also reached on expanding the force from about 5,000 troops to 20,000. The force, however, is rarely maintained at its full brigade strength. About 6,000 personnel are kept at Hafr al-Batin with the balance on alert in their home countries as reserve units. In February 2003, the GCC agreed at an emergency session to deploy the Peninsula Shield forces in Kuwait as war between the U.S.-led coalition and Iraq loomed. The GCC forces did not participate in the coalition operations against Iraq. After 20 years, efforts to create a significant integrated GCC military have not met with great success and any serious talk of developing a 100,000-man force has effectively ceased. The fact that the smaller GCC states continue to feel some resentment at what they perceive as Saudi hegemonic attitudes tends to militate against creation of more effective integration. However much the Gulf crisis of 1990-91 and the events of the decade and half that followed have increased the sense of shared danger, the Gulf Arab states have continued to pursue weapons systems purchases with limited emphasis on their interoperability. For the foreseeable future, Peninsula Shield will remain essentially a symbol of GCC unity against external threats and as an earnest of future intentions.

The general Gulf Arab states’ concentration on developing air power because of their considerable monetary resources and limited manpower has led them to focus more attention on a unified air defense than on ground forces integration. A start was made, as noted, with the extension of the Saudi AWACS coverage to Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain. Some progress has been made recently toward developing a regional air defense. The GCC is implementing a project called Hizam al-Ta‘awun (Band of Cooperation), which is a program to establish a telecommunications network linking the military headquarters of the GCC states and then their radar systems. This provides secure communications between the various national command and control centers but does not really integrate the GCC state air defenses. Progress toward true air defense integration lags, and the practice of purchasing weapons systems that are not interoperable between the Gulf states and even within them continues to be an obstacle. Despite significant political tensions in U.S. relations with the Gulf Arab states, they continue to see little alternative to reliance on American power for their essential security, as reflected in their bilateral security pacts and intensified military cooperation with the United States. Cooperation extends well beyond agreements for American use of facilities and positioning of forces to interactive cooperation. Since 1999, Cooperative Defense Initiative programs have brought together senior U.S. and GCC military leaders to promote greater awareness of the regional security environment and foster cooperative efforts in the CDI. The recently established Air Warfare Center for military air flight training at Al-Dhafra Air Base in the UAE was established not simply to train Emirate pilots on advanced U.S. aircraft but to serve air force pilots from throughout the GCC.

Recently, the Gulf Arab states have begun to focus seriously on an air defense system that would extend to missile defense. Major-General Khaled Al Bu-Ainain, commander of the UAE Air Force and Air Defense, has urged achievement of complete transparency among the GCC command and control networks to meet the threats of attacks by aircraft and missiles. In 2004, he and other GCC military planners urged revival of plans for a regional missile defense system aimed not only against a potential Iranian threat but possible threats from nations farther east, including India and China. Clearly, U.S. technology and operational expertise will be required if such a system is to be constructed.

The Low Point of the Third Century Roman Empire and Reforms of Gallienus

Roman infantry during the crisis of the third century. They wear late pattern Niederbieber helmets.

The prestige of Roman arms was at an all-time low and the situation was made even worse by the fact that the power-hungry Roman generals everywhere rose in revolt against Gallienus (253–268), the son and co-emperor of Valerian. With prestige low and civil wars being fought, the enemies of Rome seized their opportunity and broke through the frontiers everywhere. In Gaul Postumus created a separatist Gallic Empire, which weakened Gallienus’ position even further and led to the development of separate military organizations in the different parts of the Empire. And this was not the only revolt Gallienus was facing. It was symptomatic of the situation that Gallienus had to grant Odaenathus, the Arab prince of Palmyra, the command of all loyal Roman forces in the east with the title Corrector Totius Orientis against the Roman forces of the usurping family of the Macriani in Asia, while his own forces engaged their main army.

Gallienus could not trust any native Roman with the command of an army against Roman usurpers, but his emergency measure led to further troubles. Its by-product was the short-lived Palmyran Empire, and one can say with very good reason that the father of the Palmyran Empire was Gallienus. Odaenathus’ role in the defeat of Shapur I in 260 and in subsequent events has been overstated. Odaenathus had merely raided Shapur’s personal retinue in 260 while the divisions of Shapur’s army were actually defeated by the Roman forces which consisted of those sent by Gallienus (the fleet under Ballista) and those who had survived the fall of Valerian. It was this army that the Macriani then turned against Gallienus.

In the West, the Dunkirk II marine transgression beginning in c.230 had led to the abandonment of the forts at the mouth of the Rhine, which the Franks had exploited by beginning to conduct piratical raids alongside their land operations. In 260 the Franks penetrated all the way to Spain before being defeated by Postumus, who then duly usurped power. The earliest recorded piratical raid of the Saxons occurred slightly later in the 280s, but it is possible that they too had started this activity earlier because a new set of fortifications was built on both sides of the Channel between c.250–285 that we today know with the name of the Saxon shore. The Roman coastal defences and fleets had proved incapable of protecting the coasts of Britain, Gaul and Spain.

Elsewhere, the Alamanni had been able to march into Italy before being defeated by Gallienus; the Goths and Heruls had ravaged Asia Minor, the Balkans and even the Mediterranean before being defeated through the combined efforts of three successive emperors – Gallienus, Claudius II and Aurelian; the Persians had ravaged Asia Minor and Syria; and the Berbers had raided Mauritania Tingitana. Similarly, further east other Berbers (Quinquegentanei, Bavares and Faraxen/Frexes) had ravaged the North-East of Mauritania Caesariensis and the North-West of Numidia from 254 to 259.

During Claudius II’s reign the Blemmyes had ravaged Egypt and the Marmaridae had ravaged Cyrenaica, and the Palmyran Arabs and their Roman auxiliaries had been able to conquer most of the east. Even the Isaurians had revolted and started raiding.

Gallienus did not only fight these enemies, but concluded treaties with the Franks, Marcomanni and Heruls. He was desperately short of manpower, and was therefore ready to use a combination of force and diplomacy. This policy allowed him to pacify whole sectors of the frontier and it also gave him access to a pool of auxiliaries and Foederati that he could employ against other foreign or domestic enemies. It was highly symptomatic of the situation that foreigners were needed for the fighting of civil wars.

However, eventually after many years of fighting, Gallienus managed to stabilize the situation partly thanks to the many reforms he made, partly thanks to his own superb generalship, partly thanks to the efforts of others (Postumus, Odaenathus, generals), partly by treaties, and partly thanks to the temporary abandonment of terrain to the enemy. Gallienus was faced with an unenviable situation, and therefore instituted many changes and reforms to save the situation: for example, he granted religious freedom to the Christians to gain their support, especially in the east.

It should be stressed, however, that the reforms of Gallienus concerned only that part of the empire which was ruled by him. For example, in the Gallic Empire the usurper Postumus had to bolster his military strength by employing a great number of auxiliary troops consisting of ‘Celts’ (Germans or Gauls?) and Franks (SHA Gall. 7), who may have been the precursors of the Late Roman auxilia. In contrast, Gallienus created a personal field army comitatus consisting of a mix of new recruits and existing units and their detachments. The core of this army was based on cavalry that Gallienus grouped together. Foreigners did play a role in his army too, but mainly as allied forces.

The most famous of Gallienus’ reforms was the creation of the first separate mobile cavalry army, the Tagmata, in Milan as a rapid reaction force against threats from Gaul, Raetia and Illyria. The evacuation of the Agri Decumantes by Postumus opened Italy to invasions through Raetia. What was novel about the Tagmata was that the legionary cavalry forces had been separated from their mother units and joined together with the auxiliary cavalry units to form the first truly separate and permanent cavalry army (that is, it was not a temporary grouping) under its own commander. This army consisted of cavalry units/legions about 6,000 strong, the equivalent of infantry legions. But this was not the whole extent of the reform. Gallienus also separated the infantry units and detachments into their own separate 6,000-man ‘legions’. It is unlikely to be a coincidence that John Lydus (De magistratibus 1.46, p.70.3–4) also refers to the existence of separate 6,000-man infantry legions, and 6,000-man cavalry legions (i.e. the equivalent of later mere/meros) in the past, the practice of which I date to Gallienus’ reign.

According to the sixth-century author Lydus (De Magistr. 1.46), the professional Roman army consisted of units (speirai) of 300 aspidoforoi (shield-bearers185) called cohorts; cavalry alae (ilai) of 600 horsemen; vexillationes of 500 horsemen; turmae of 500 horsemen and legions of 6,000 footmen and the same numbers of horsemen. On the basis of the fact that this list fails to mention the limitanei or comitatenses and includes the praetoriani, it is clear that the names must predate the reign of Constantine. However, Lydus’ referral to the cohorts of 300 aspidoforoi should be seen as a referral to the use of the legions as phalanxes consisting of 320-man units. It is of course possible that this is a mistake resulting from his misunderstanding of the structure of the republican era manipular legion of principes, hastati, and triarii, which Marius had changed to include the light-armed velites for a total of 480 men. If Lydus is correct then the ‘cohort’ in question could be a second- to third-century detachment that consisted of only the four centuries of shield-bearers (à 80) for a total of 320 men (depth four to eight men), in addition to which came the light-armed (lanciarii, sagittarii, verutarii, funditores, ferentarii for a total of 160 men, deployed two to four deep). That is, with the inclusion of the light-armed this cohort retained the old strength of 480, but it was still smaller than the ‘old cohort’, because it had included in addition to the 480 legionaries 240 light-armed troops. This alternative receives support from the fact that the units would not have marched to war in their entirety, which would have made necessary the use of the abovementioned smaller cohorts. The other alternative is that we should identify the 300-man cohorts with the 256-man tagmata of the former legions mentioned by the Strategikon (12.B.8.1) so that each detachment (1024 men) consisted of four such and 256 light-armed men grouped separately. However, this seems to refer to the situation after the reforms of Constantine.

The creation of a separate independent cavalry Tagmata and commander (Aureolus in Zonaras 12.25: ‘archôn tês hippou’) can be seen as a precursor for the later division of the armed forces under a Magister Equitum and a Magister Peditum, as the title ‘Commander of the Cavalry’ also implies that there must have been a separate commander for Gallienus’ infantry forces. In fact, it is obvious that Gallienus’ infantry detachments, drawn from all over the Empire – including the areas under Postumus – required a new administrative system at the head of which must have been some commander for the infantry. It should be kept in mind, however, that on the basis of a papyrus dating from 302 the cavalry was not yet regarded as fully independent. That is, each legionary cavalry unit retained its connection with their infantry unit for administrative purposes until the reign of Diocletian (Parker, 1933, 188–9), but it is also possible that one of Gallienus’ successors reattached the cavalry back to the legions. Unfortunately, we do not know the title of the infantry commander that is likely to have existed for the infantry detachments. He may have been Comes or Magister Peditum, or Comes Domesticorum Peditum, or Praefectus Praetorio.

It is suggested that the Tribunus et Magister Officiorum was actually the overall commander of all Protectores, because according to Aurelius Victor 33, Claudius II, who was the most important man right after Gallienus in 268, had only the title of tribunus in 368. This would equate with the title of Tribunus et Magister Officiorum (note also SHA Elagab. 20.2). Gallienus was quite prepared to create large military commands for his trusted men. Of note is Gallienus’ creation of regional commands in the same manner as Philip the Arab had done. For example, the former ‘Hipparchos’ Aureolus served as Dux per Raetias in 267–268 with command of all of the forces facing Postumus and Alamanni in Italy and Raetia. The largest command was granted to Odaenathus who held the position of Corrector Totius Orientis, with the powers to command all of the forces of the East, but in this case Gallienus probably had little choice. It should be noted, however, that for the creation of the supreme command of the eastern armies there were also precedents, for example from the reign of Philip the Arab and even before that from the early Principate.

One of Gallienus’ more important reforms was the exclusion of senators from positions of military leadership (tribuni, duces, legati) in order to limit their possibility for usurpation. Obviously this did not concern every senator, only those who did not have Gallienus’ trust. Gallienus’ favourite senators still continued to hold on to and to receive new military appointments. Similarly, this exclusion did not concern the position of governorship. Gallienus’ reform meant that henceforth Roman generals would consist of duces (dukes), comites (counts) and praefecti (prefects), all appointed by the emperor, and no longer of the senatorial legates as before. Unsurprisingly, it was during this period that the senatorial legati stopped being commanders of legions. Henceforth the legions were commanded by professional military men of equestrian rank who had risen to higher commands through service in the ranks.

The dux (leader, duke) was originally a temporary command, but thanks to the fact that temporarily-created forces like Gallienus’ Comitatus and Tagmata were constantly operating together, the position became a regular one. Besides his command duties, the dux was also in charge of recruiting, training, and supply. The comes (companion, count) was originally a member of the emperor’s entourage, which now became a permanent title for a great variety of offices. Militarily the most important offices were the Comes Domesticorum (commander of the Protectores Domestici) and Comes rei Militaris (general). The inscription (PLRE 1 Marcianus 2) AE 1965, 114 Philippolis (Thrace) confirms the existence of comes or magister as military commander for the reign of Gallienus. It runs as follows: “ho diasêmotatos, protector tou aneikêtou despotou hêmôn Galliênou Se(bastou), tribounos praetôrianôn kai doux kai stratêlatês”. Dux and stratelates (comes or magister) are clearly two separate posts. The closeness of the comites to the emperor ensured better chances of promotion, just like with the protectores (see below). The importance of the temporary position of praepositus also increased and became semipermanent in many cases. The significance of the tribune also increased, the highest ranking of them being in charge of the units of bodyguards and the lesser in charge of the cavalry vexillations, legions and auxiliary cohorts.

Further, Gallienus increased the importance of the institutions of Protectores/Protectores Domestici (protectors/protectors at home/court), which may have been created by him or by Caracalla, and the Frumentarii (postmen/spies/assassins) as instruments of imperial security.

The exact status of the protectores/domestici is not known. There were also three or four types of protectores: those who had been posted in the provinces and whose origin probably lay in the governors’ bodyguards (equites and pedites singulares); those who stayed with the emperor and came to be called Protectores Domestici or Domestici (these latter were also later sent on missions as deputati); and those who had received the honour of simply being given the title. According to one view the protector was originally an honorary title that was then extended to men who acted as the emperor’s bodyguards/staff college from which the men received appointments to other higher positions, and/or the title was given to all officers who had reached a certain rank to make them more loyal to the emperor. According to this view the protectores were not really a military bodyguard unit, but simply men with the officers’ rank that acted simultaneously as the emperor’s bodyguards and staff-college and from which they could be seconded to special missions or for duty in the generals’ staffs.

According to another view there were two separate entities of protectores, the first of which was the staff-college/military intelligence staff and the second of which was an actual imperial bodyguard unit. According to this version, the latter protectores were formerly called either speculatores (300 ‘scouts’ stationed in the same camp as the Praetorians) or they consisted of the former equites singularis Augusti (c.2000 horsemen).

The suggestion is that there were ‘three’ bodyguard units of protectores/domestici: 1) the former speculatores who performed simultaneously the functions of bodyguards, military intelligence gathering, acted as sort of political commissars who kept their superiors in check, and acted as a staff-college for the emperor who could then use these officers for special missions; 2) military units like the equites singulares Augusti and Scholae/Aulici commanded by these protectores and which were also collectively called protectores; and 3) the former bodyguards of the governors and were now only renamed as protectores.

There are several reasons for this conclusion. The protectores were later used as commanders and officers of (for example) the Scholae of Constantine, which points to the likelihood that the protectores probably commanded different units under each different emperor. Many of these units would also have consisted of barbarians or other ethnic groups, just like the case with the equites singulares Augusti or Caracalla’s Leones. Consequently, during Gallienus’ reign the cavalry protectores probably consisted of the Equites Singulares Augusti, Scholae, Equites Dalmatae (and possibly also of the Comites, Equites Promoti and some other units) while its infantry counterparts would probably have been some palatine units like those later known as the Ioviani and Herculiani. Notably, the Equites Dalmatae formed Gallienus’ retinue at the time of his murder.

It is further important to note that besides being bodyguards, just like the praetorians and all those garrisoned at castra peregrinorum in Rome, the protectores were also used as spies and imperial assassins, and it is also known that Gallienus sometimes even spied upon people in person in disguise at night. As Frank has pointed out it is probable that the protectores also served as the military equivalent of the civilian agentes in rebus (successors of the Frumentarii) in the staffs of the period commanders. That is, the protectores performed military intelligence gathering missions which included spying on superiors and on foreigners. The messenger/inspector Frumentarii were by no means the only imperial special agents. It is not known whether Gallienus also used priests, astrologers and fortune tellers as informers just like the earlier emperors, but one may make the educated guess that such practices were also continued alongside the other systems.

Among the greatest successes of Gallienus can be counted that in his own portion of the Roman Empire he created and trained a highly efficient and mobile army commanded by equally gifted men of lowly Illyrian origin all of whom had risen through the ranks. It was this army and its leaders that breathed new life into the Roman Empire. It is true that the final mopping up of the Gothic and Herulian invading forces was left for Claudius and Aurelian (Aurelianus) to complete during the years 269–271, but it was still primarily thanks to the valiant efforts of Gallienus in 267–268 that the terrible migration/invasion of the Eastern Germans was stopped. The destruction of the Gothic and Herulian fleets, together with a sizable portion of their manpower and population, caused a temporary collapse of Gothic power in the Black Sea region with the result that, for example, the Sarmatians were able to regain control of the Bosporan kingdom. The same victory also secured to the Romans the control of the allied Greek cities of the North Black Sea such as Olbia and Chersonesus, the latter of which proved instrumental in warfare against the Bosporans. It is of course possible that the Romans never lost the control of these cities, but the crushing defeat of the Goths in 267–271 certainly secured these for the Romans. It is also probable that it was then at the latest that the ‘Huns’ moved westward to occupy lands north of the Caucasus previously under the control of the Goths, unless of course the reason for the Gothic invasions/migrations had not been their attack to begin with rather than the arrival of the plague with the lure of easy booty – additional details are included later in the narrative.

Despite all the frantic efforts of Gallienus, at the time when he was murdered by his own officers the Roman Empire was still effectively divided into three parts: 1) the Gallic Empire under the usurper/emperor Postumus; 2) the Roman Empire under the legitimate emperor Gallienus; and 3) the Palmyran Empire, still nominally ruled by Gallienus but already in practice by Zenobia, the widow of the murdered Odaenathus. The revolt of Aureolus and the murder of Gallienus had also meant that the mopping up of the Gothic invaders had been left unfinished, as a result of which Claudius’ short reign was entirely spent on dealing with the Goths, while the Palmyrenes rose in revolt against him. The Palmyrene takeover of the East and Egypt caused serious but not permanent damage to the classes Syriaca/Seleuca and Alexandriana both of which, however, appear to have managed to survive by fleeing to Roman territory. The end result of this was the resurgence of the problem of Isaurian piracy. The fleets as such survived and took part in the reconquest of the East during the reign of Aurelian.

Thanks to the fact that Gallienus’ almost only available recruiting area was Illyricum, he had brought the Illyrians to the dominant position among the military. The Illyrians were tough soldiers but only semi-civilized in Roman eyes. It was largely thanks to this that, after the murder of Gallienus by Illyrian officers, the Empire was effectively ruled by the ‘Illyrian Mafia’, at least until the downfall of the Constantinian Dynasty.

Military Communications 1895-1918

Wireless (1895-1914)

Development of wireless telegraphy or radio took military communications another huge step forward-a second revolution in communications barely a half-century after the first. Now signals could be sent rapidly beyond the reach of sight or travel distances, anywhere, in fact, and not just where wires reached. British army and Royal Navy officers such as Henry Jackson were among those who pioneered research on the military potential of wireless telegraphy, applying crude systems to experimental field conditions. The French installed wireless on a gunboat in 1899. German military units were assisted by the work of their countrymen Adolph Slaby and George von Arco in the 1890s. Generally merchant ships were quicker to adopt wireless than their military counterparts. Marconi’s work was closely monitored by the Royal Navy and the British army while de Forest sold radio equipment to the American military. Fessenden had a fractious relationship with the U. S. Navy, which often used his devices without any patent payments. Armstrong made one of his key innovations while serving with the Signal Corps in France and, in World War II, allowed the free use by the military of his frequency modulation (FM) invention. Radio opportunities for “remote control” of land forces were exceeded only by what wireless promised for naval fleets.

For the first time, wireless allowed naval commanders to keep in touch with vessels and whole fleets sailing far from land. It fell to Japan, in the Battle of Tsushima in 1905, to first demonstrate the vital importance of effective use of wireless to control a battle fleet. The opposing Russian force was nearly wiped out. The Royal Navy and, only slightly more slowly, the U. S. Navy, adapted the benefits of radio to fleet operations, expanding their installations as radio equipment improved. The U. S. Navy, designated by the Wireless Telegraph Board of 1904 to lead American efforts in the new medium, established an expanding number of naval radio stations to improve fleet communications. Indeed, the Navy played a dominant role in all technical and policy-related American radio developments prior to and during World War I. The Naval Radio Laboratory and the Naval Research Laboratory would become centers of communication technology development and application testing. Ships could now call for help in emergencies – most spectacularly in the case of the White Star ocean liner Titanic in 1912.

Invented in 1904, improved in 1906, and fully understood by about 1912, the vacuum tube (or “valve” in British usage) became central to wireless communication from about 1920 until superseded by the transistor in the 1960s. For a half-century fragile vacuum tubes formed the core of most military electronic equipment.

Britain enhanced its existing telegraph cables by developing (with Marconi) an imperial chain of All Red wireless transmitters early in the twentieth century. It also made limited use of wireless in South Africa during the Boer War.

World War I (1914-1918)

Both wired and wireless communication saw their first real military testing during the bloody World War I, especially on the long-stalemated Western Front. The early battles of the Marne in the west and Tannenberg in the east underscored the importance of good communications. But after the war of movement ended in September 1914, armies limited their use of tactical radio, the equipment for which was still cumbersome to use. Only late in the war did forward units obtain field radio equipment. Germany experimented with radios for its airship fleet, as did both sides, late in the war, with airplanes, first sending messages from ground to air, and then both ways.

Military radio in 1914 was crude on both sides of the conflict. Antennas were obvious targets, and equipment was fragile, cumbersome, and vulnerable to weather or enemy action. There were few trained operators and never enough radios available (a U. S. Army division of 20,000 men rarely had more than six radios even in 1918). But radio’s biggest drawback was the lack of senior commanders willing to use or trust it in battlefield conditions. Poorly organized at first, Army radio users also suffered from security breaches such as sending vital messages in the clear rather than in code. One concern was that all radio signals were subject to being heard by the enemy and thus required effective systems of message coding. To allow short-range telephony with little chance of being overheard, the British introduced the use of the Fullerphone in trench warfare.

While all sides sought to “listen in,” the British most effectively developed the direction-finding receivers and careful traffic analysis essential to successful code breaking. German undersea cables were cut by the British in the early days of the war, forcing the enemy to use radio trans- missions to which the British could tune-and eventually understand as their code-breaking expertise expanded. With the help of codebooks seized from captured German naval vessels, the Royal Navy Intelligence, or Room 40 cryptanalysis staff, was able to decrypt many German naval signals – including the infamous “Zimmermann telegram” urging Mexico to declare war on the United States, which finally brought the United States into the war in early 1917. Until the end of the war, however, cryptography remained poorly integrated with operational practice. American efforts, for example, some under the Army’s Herbert O. Yardley, were only partially successful.

World War I naval forces also made extensive use of radio to control widely dispersed fleets. In the 1916 battle of Jutland (and in many other battles), admirals often failed to make the best use of radio information, relying on flag signals that might be misread in battle conditions. As spark – gap equipment was replaced (1916-1917) by better arc and then (1918) vacuum tube-powered equipment, naval radio’s value increased further. Wartime needs and growing equipment procurement greatly accelerated the pace of radio’s technical development. Vacuum tube-based equipment, rare in 1914 (when obsolete spark-gap wireless telegraphy was still wide- spread), was becoming standard by 1918, vastly increasing radio’s capabilities by adding voice to code communication. Until 1916, German U-boats, too cramped to carry bulky long-wave radio equipment, were limited to shorter-range (200-300 miles) radio links. As vacuum tube technology made possible longer-distance sending and receiving, submarines shifted their attacks farther into the Atlantic. Not all ships’ captains appreciated their loss of independent action with the development of wireless.

More than radio, telegraph and telephone lines linked fighting units down to the battalion level. Some of the 38,000-mile telephone service by 1918 was designed and operated by AT&T on behalf of the military; Army Signal Corps personnel operated the remainder. Hello Girls acted as operators to allow more men to be assigned to military duties. Because lines could be so easily broken in the fighting, however, effective command and control often depended on the use of couriers (frequently mounted on horses, bicycles, motorcycles, or small motor vehicles) or message-carrying pigeons or dogs, as in the past. One carrier pigeon, for example, Cher Ami, helped to get messages through that led to the rescue of the famous “Lost Battalion.” Static trench warfare on the Western Front also required wide- spread use of pyrotechnic signals (such as signal rockets) and whistles to shift troops into or out of trenches or warn of gas attacks.

A new element in military communications and fighting first appeared in this war-propaganda and psychological warfare. “Propaganda” is a type of military communication designed to weaken an enemy before and during operations. It seeks military gains without, or more usually in sup- port of, military force. While used well before nineteenth-century warfare (there are many historical references to propaganda-like combat efforts, and both sides in the American Civil War made use of propaganda), propaganda and psychological warfare really came into their own during the two world wars. Drawing on growing understanding of persuasive techniques-and fear-propagandists for both the Central Powers and the Allies used a variety of communication media to soften up enemy forces and countries. In past times as well as more recent wars, propaganda has drawn on occult themes. These would be greatly expanded in World War II-as would jamming of enemy radio transmitters to try to obliterate their messages.

The Army Signal Corps expanded fifty-fold as it served growing American forces in Europe. This growth created a huge need for trained personnel as well as a formal research and development establishment, so the corps created what would become Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, which remained the country’s chief signal school until 1974. Extensive training programs were established in most countries that introduced principles of wireless (and wired systems) to thousands of men. These trained personnel would play an important role in helping to push radio developments in the years to come.

NATO’s Military Organization

A submarine travels during the anti-terrorist military demonstration staged by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in the Gulf of Taranto.

From its inception NATO was involved in delicate juggling acts to balance a frequently bewildering variety of requirements. The overriding aim was to field forces which would deter an attack by the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, since anything else the Alliance attempted was wasted if it could not achieve that. But this had to be balanced against what was both politically acceptable and economically affordable to the members – requirements which were not always mutually compatible. Then, too, the command structure needed to share out the posts to achieve a balance between the United States, which was not only the most powerful single member but also met a very large proportion of the bills, and the remaining nations, who wished to ensure that their national aspirations were seen to be met. Finally, the organization as a whole needed to present a good public image, and to produce solutions which would not offend public opinion in any member nation too greatly.

At the top of the military organization was the Military Committee, on which all nations were represented by their chiefs-of-staff and which normally met three times a year. Since the chiefs-of-staff were based in their national capitals, there was a need for some permanent representation at NATO Headquarters to conduct day-to-day business, and this was originally provided by the Standing Group, which consisted of just three members – France, the UK and the USA – with all other nations except Iceland appointing a ‘permanent national liaison officer’. The title of the group changed to the ‘Military Representatives Committee’ in 1950, and to the ‘Military Committee in Permanent Session’ in 1957. When France withdrew from the integrated military structure in 1966 this top-level body was reorganized again, being expanded to include a permanent ‘national military representative’ at three-star level (i.e. lieutenant-general or equivalent) from all nations except France and Iceland, although the title remained unchanged.

Originally, the chairmanship of the Military Committee in Chiefs-of-Staff Session rotated annually between members, but a separate chairman of the Military Committee in Permanent Session was appointed in 1958, and from 1963 onwards the same officer chaired both committees. Designated the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, this officer was in effect the senior military officer in NATO, and since the post was created in 1958 he has always been a European, thus balancing the US influence in other senior posts in the Alliance.


On the establishment of NATO, a series of regional planning groups (RPGs) was set up, each comprising those nations with a strategic interest in the particular area:

  • Canada/US RPG – Canada, USA;
  • Western Europe RPG – Benelux, Canada, France, UK, USA;
  • North Atlantic Ocean RPG – Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, UK, USA;
  • Northern Europe RPG – Denmark, Norway, UK, USA;
  • Southern Europe/Western Mediterranean RPG – France, Italy, UK, USA.

These RPGs were not, however, the only forums where discussions were taking place, and there were a number of bilateral links, of which by far the most important was that between the United States and the United Kingdom. These two countries not only had strong traditional and cultural ties, but also had forged a close alliance during the war under the Allied Combined Chiefs-of-Staff (CCS) organization. This CCS mechanism continued to be used after the war, and during 1945–9 it produced a variety of combined war plans to counter possible Soviet aggression. The link continued with the setting-up of NATO, and was used by them, as the two predominant military powers in the new organization, for private discussions on the command arrangements for the Alliance.

The RPGs produced a variety of organizational proposals, but, despite external pressures such as the explosion of the first Soviet atomic bomb, the Communist takeover in China and the outbreak of the Korean War, the discussions dragged on through the whole of 1950 and 1951, and it was not until early 1952 that a full structure was in place.

Naturally, a hierarchy of command appointments were needed, and these were designated as follows:

  • major NATO commands (MNCs) – the most senior appointments, at four-star level, normally designated ‘Supreme Allied Commander …’ (SAC); e.g. SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander Europe);
  • principal subordinate commands (PSCs) – the next level down, headed by a commander-in-chief (CINC) at either three- or four-star level; e.g. CINCENT (Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Central Europe);
  • major subordinate commands (MSCs) – these were usually at four-star level, headed by a commander; e.g. COMCENTAG (Commander Central Army Group).

It was clear that one supreme allied commander would be required for Europe (SACEUR), that he would be an American, and that he should be the most prestigious military officer of the day. Thus, General Dwight D. Eisenhower took up this appointment on 2 April 1951, with Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the British former military head of the Western Union Defence Organization (Brussels Treaty) forces, as his deputy. They established Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) at Fontainebleau in France, and quickly agreed on a command structure, which was in place in November 1951. This consisted of:

  • Allied Land Forces Central Europe (AFCENT) – a four-star land command covering Benelux, France and West Germany;
  • Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AIRCENT) – a four-star air command, covering the same geographical area as AFCENT;
  • Allied Forces Northern Europe (AFNORTH) – a four-star, joint (i.e. navy, army, air force) command, covering Denmark and Norway;
  • Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH) – a four-star joint command, covering Italy and the western Mediterranean, and including the US Sixth Fleet;
  • Flag Officer Western Europe (FOWE) – who provided naval representation to SHAPE, but commanded only the French, UK and US Rhine flotillas.

It was, however, significant that the British refused to place the land or air defences of the United Kingdom under NATO. As a result, the land defence of the UK remained a national responsibility throughout the Cold War, although, as will be discussed later, the air defence eventually did become a NATO responsibility.

If SACEUR’s demesne was agreed without much disagreement, the same cannot be said of the Atlantic, where the two basic issues were the subdivisions of the command and the fact that both the Americans and the British wanted to provide the sea-going commander. The matter was not just a question of national prestige, however: it also included important factors of wartime strategy, with the United States being concerned about troops and supply convoys crossing the Atlantic in a west–east direction in war, while British concerns centred on south–north trade routes, including that for oil. Many meetings were held and a large number of alternative plans were discussed, with the naval discussions not being helped when the issue entered the British political arena in 1951, with Churchill, at that time the leader of the opposition, attacking the socialist government (led by Clement Attlee) for agreeing to a US officer as SACLANT. The problem was also complicated by disagreements over command in the Mediterranean and in the southern part of NATO’s Atlantic area, which had already been designated IBERLANT.

In the autumn of 1951 a British general election put the problem on hold, and when Churchill again became prime minister, on 26 October, the question of NATO naval commands featured high on his list of priorities. Churchill went to Washington in January 1952, and after a round of fierce arguments he eventually gave way, although a British admiral was to be appointed Deputy SACLANT. The principle agreed, the navy planners then set up a complicated organizational system which involved numerous situations where an officer held two appointments (known as ‘double-hatting’) or even three (‘triple-hatting’), although the problems inherent in such an arrangement were alleviated by having separate staffs for the various functions.

The problems did not go away, however, and among the knotty issues was the question of the US navy’s aircraft carriers. The control of atomic weapons aboard these carriers was governed by the US McMahon Act, which stipulated that control could not be passed to another power, and this raised a major hurdle when the US Navy’s Strike Fleet Atlantic (STRIKE-FLTLANT) was operating in the Eastern Atlantic area, where the NATO commander was Commander-in-Chief Eastern Atlantic (CINCEASTLANT), a British officer. There were also problems over IBERLANT, which were eventually solved by placing Commander IBERLANT, a British officer, under CINCEASTLANT.

After much argument, the naval organization in the Atlantic settled down in late 1952:

  • SACLANT (US) and his deputy (UK) were in the headquarters at Norfolk, Virginia;
  • STRIKEFLTLANT remained under the command of SACLANT, regardless of its position in the Atlantic;
  • CINCWESTLANT (US) exercised command over most of the northern Atlantic, with two sub-area commands: US Atlantic Sub-Area and Canadian Sub-Area;
  • CINCEASTLANT (UK) controlled four geographical sub-areas – Central (UK), Northern (UK), Biscay (French) and IBERLANT (UK) – with a fifth functional command (Commander Submarines Eastern Atlantic (COMSUBEASTLANT)), being a British officer.

One notable difference between the American and other command systems concerned the air. Under the US system the naval commander controlled all his air assets, since the US navy had assumed responsibility for long-range maritime patrol aircraft from the (then) US Army Air Force in 1943. Under the British and French systems, however, land-based air support was provided by the air force, as a result of which there were two commanders of equal rank – one navy, one air force – at EASTLANT and at the geographical sub-areas.

Similar difficulties faced the planners in the Mediterranean. The British had considerable interests here: they regarded the sea lines of communication (SLOC) as vital to their wartime requirements; they were strongly involved in Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus and Egypt; and they had a predominant interest in the security of the Suez Canal. They had also, as they pointed out, been the predominant naval power in the region for some 150 years, and maintained a sizeable Mediterranean Fleet, based in Malta. The French also had strong interests here, since they had colonial ties with Morocco and Tunisia, while Algeria was legally a département of France, and they needed to secure the north–south SLOC to metropolitan France. The US Sixth Fleet was permanently based in the Mediterranean, but, since it carried atomic weapons, its command, was subject to the McMahon Act. Italy also had a major interest, as the largest power bordering the Mediterranean and with a rapidly growing navy. Allied to all this was a totally new factor – the imminent entry of Greece and Turkey into the Atlantic Alliance, with a concomitant need to accommodate the geographically adjacent but traditionally hostile countries into the command structure.

A further and novel factor was added to the situation when the British posted Admiral Earl Mountbatten as commander-in-chief of the British Mediterranean Fleet. This was seen as slightly underhand by some Americans, although it was part of such a senior officer’s normal career progression. Nevertheless, the British could not deny that such a thrusting, charismatic and successful officer – he had previously served as Supreme Allied Commander South-East Asia Command from 1943 to 1945, as viceroy of India in 1947 and as governor-general of India in 1947–8 – might not have some influence on the situation.

A series of plans was proposed by the tri-national Standing Group at NATO Headquarters, by SACEUR and by the various nations involved, but every one of them met with a fundamental objection from one or several of the parties concerned. Eventually, however, a compromise was reached in which:

  • Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Mediterranean (CINCAFMED) (UK) reported direct to SACEUR;
  • geographical subordinates were Gibraltar (GIBMED) (UK), Occidentale (MEDOC) (French), Central (MEDCENT) (Italian), South-East (MEDSOUEAST) (UK), Eastern (MEDEAST) (Greek), and North-Eastern (MEDNOREAST) (Turkish);
  • there were also three functional commands: US Patrols Mediterranean (USPATMED) (US), Submarines Mediterranean (SUBMED) (UK) and Submarines North-East (SUBMEDNOREAST) (Turkey).

Admiral Mountbatten duly set up his NATO headquarters in Malta in December 1952, but without STRIKEFORSOUTH – the US Sixth Fleet – which remained under CINCAFSOUTH, an American four-star officer with his headquarters in Naples, Italy.

These examples from the very early days of NATO show one of the underlying strengths of the Alliance: not that bureaucratic conflicts – which might today be termed ‘star wars’ – were avoided, but that they were always resolved. It would have been too much to expect that the various national susceptibilities would not have resulted in some bruising discussions, but somehow the will was always there to find a solution.

The organization did not, of course, remain static: it changed to meet altered circumstances in national organizations and to match political and military developments within the Alliance. Thus the national ‘share’ of appointments had to be adjusted to include the Germans in 1955, again in 1966 to cover the departure of the French, and yet again in 1982 to accommodate Spain, although Spain did not enter the integrated command structure.

In the late 1960s two events increased yet further the importance of the UK to the Alliance. The first was the move of many USAF air bases from France to the UK as a result of General De Gaulle’s diktat; the second was the adoption in 1967 of the strategy of ‘flexible response’. As a result the British Isles became of major significance as a base for offensive and defensive operations, and their security became a matter of great concern to the Alliance. A new NATO command was therefore established on 10 April 1975, when Commander UK Air Forces (CINCUKAIR) took post at High Wycombe, England. CINCUKAIR was ‘double-hatted’ as Commander-in-Chief RAF Strike Command, and, although only a major subordinate commander (MSC), he reported directly to SACEUR. This brought British airspace firmly under NATO’s control in war, but failed to cause the sort of political and public reactions which had made the decisions on the naval commands in the Atlantic and Mediterranean so difficult in the 1950s.

When NATO was set up there were two principal subordinate commands (PSCs) on the Continent: Land Forces Central Europe and Air Forces Central Europe. The air-force headquarters was subsequently disbanded, but was resurrected in 1975 as Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE), although a directive by NATO’s Defence Planning Committee that it should be moved from Ramstein in southern Germany and collocated with AFCENT at Brunssum was successfully resisted by the air forces until well past the end of the Cold War.

Physical moves were also made. As has already been described, the French decision to leave the integrated military structure also involved a large-scale movement of NATO facilities from France to Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. For different reasons HQ IBERLANT was transferred from Gibraltar to Lisbon, Portugal, in 1966, and HQ Allied Naval Forces Southern Europe (NAVSOUTH) from Malta to Naples in 1971.