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Военное дело Hannibal and the Battle of Cannae.
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Unit 3.

1. to deploy – развертывать;

2. to defeat – наносить поражение;

3. double envelopment – двойной охват;

4. to encircle – окружать;

to surround

5. to engage – вести боевые действия;

6. to fix – сковывать (противника);

7. to retire – отходить;

8. to canalize – вынуждать двигаться.

Hannibal was a member of the famous Carthaginian family. His father was a general. When Hannibal was 25 he took out the leadership of the Carthaginian force.

As a commander Hannibal developed an imaginative and courageous concept of strategy, tactically he paid great attention to the detailed preparation for battle.

Cannae is a village in the valley of the Aufidus River. Cannae was the utter of Hannibal’s great victory against the Roman army under the command of the consul L.Varro.

Even in these days of high-tech warfare, a knowledge of military history is an essential part of any officer’s professional education. The technology of war change, the sophistication of weapons certainly changes. But those same principles of war that applied to the days of Hannibal apply today. History does repeat itself.

Nowadays it is possible to apply the same tactic that Hannibal had used against the Romans more than 2,000 years earlier.

The deadliest offensive tactic is the double envelopment, where a commander aims to surround and then destroy his opponent. The most famous and successful example of this tactic took place in southern Italy more than 2,000 years ago when a Carthaginian force defeated a Roman army nearly twice its size. The Battle of Cannae was fought on 2 August 216 BC between the Romans and the Carthaginians, led by one of the most famous commanders in history – Hannibal.

Just after dawn on 2 August, the Roman Commander, Varro, ordered his forces to deploy for battle. He deployed his troops in a standard manner, with cavalry and infantry on both flanks – 2,400 Roman cavalry and 10,000 infantry on his right flank and 3,600 allied cavalry and 20,000 infantry on his left – and 40,000 infantry in the centre.

Hannibal’s forces were deployed south west of the Romans and in a similar fashion. On his left flank, Hannibal deployed his 6,500 Gallic and Spanish heavy cavalry. On his right, the 3,500 light Numidian cavalry. In the centre, he deployed his infantry force of 40,000 men.

Varro’s battle plan was simple. He had deployed his infantry in a closely packed formation and intended to use their weight to smash through the Carthaginian centre. Hannibal had other ideas.

At the start of the battle, Hannibal’s heavy cavalry engaged the Roman cavalry to their front. Before the battle, Hannibal had massed his heavy cavalry on his left flank and instructed the light cavalry simply to make a lot of noise – their role was to fix the Roman allied cavalry in place while the Carthaginian heavy cavalry attacked. After defeating the Romans on the left flank, the heavy cavalry then moved behind the roman Infantry, joined the Numidian light cavalry on the right flank and attacked the Roman allied cavalry from the rear. The infantry engagement began as the Roman cavalry was giving way.

Hannibal had placed his Spanish and Celtic infantry in the front line in a V-formation and as the Romans marched forward, Hannibal ordered his troops to retire into a V-shaped formation. At this point, Varro probably had the impression that he was successfully advancing but in reality, Hannibal’s manoeuvre had effectively canalized and the enveloped the Roman troops. By the time Varro realized what was happening, it was too late. The Romans had already advanced into a trap and now Hannibal closed the trap. His Libvan infantrymen moved to encircle the Romans and the cavalry completed the envelopment by smashing into the Roman rear. The Romans were surrounded.