Last day: Roman empire, created and maintained by force. Highly militarized ethos among decision
makers. Practice diplomacy with major powers to the east but not with tribal factions to the north. In
strategic and operational terms, romans process intelligence well, building intelligence gathering into
their system in ways that are more advance than any other state til that point. When the Romans lose
military superiority, records allow us to see how then they relied on diplomacy and subversion – not
enough to save them ultimately. Collapse of Roman empire in the West
Intelligence and Byzantine Empire 600-850s
Portion of Roman empire that survives collapse. In broad terms, find different strategy than that
followed by the Romans – Intel, Diplomacy, Subversion are all at least as important as use of armed
force. Intel – collection of information. Subversion has elements of diplomacy.
Byzantines are earliest state we can document on systematic level the way intelligence and information
are pursued on a day to day basis for the preservation of the polity.
In 500s, 50-60 years after collapse of Roman empire, Byzantine empire makes effort under Justinian to
reconquer as much as possible of Western Roman empire – recovers Sicily andAfrica, as well as most
of Italy and the Isles of the Mediterranean.Argued that it stops and can't go longterm because there's a
plague outbreak which may well have destroyed 40% of the urban population. Expansion through
military force. 900S-early 1000s, attempts to expel all enemies and reconquer as much territory as they
can – see 1045AD map of Byzantine Empire.
Byzantine Strategy and Intel
Common to middle era of Byzantine empire. Byzantines are confronting powerful states (militarily or
demographically) that they're surrounded by. Everywhere the Byzantines look, there are potential
enemies. Their population is taxed, unlike their neighbours, including great Muslim Caliphates. Greater
financial base. Byzantines develop by early 500s military system that is unique:
• junk old roman legions, adopt field army based on mounted archers wearing leather armor with
mail sewn on. Convex bows. End up with extremely good, but moderately sized army of
specialists. Only functions if they train every day. Very mobile.
• Fortifications which the byzantines provide with a great deal of food and supplies – population
can flee to these in event of invasion, force enemy to have to use seige
• extremely good navy, equipped with Greek fire – kind of primitive napalm.Also install
permannent forms of Greek fire around their capital of Constantinople.
• Byzantines are investing in high tech, capital intensive forces and fortifications. Costly, hard to
maintain, but give you core ability to survive attack. Fairly defensive structure. Basil the Bulgar
• Dilemma is: if you go after any of your neighbours, who are quite strong, you send your forces
away – even if sucessful against one, other neighbours are also problematic. Drives them to
defensive strategy. Byzantines incorporate defensive strategy that says: if the enemy come into
territory, let them advance, pull population into fortification, gather forces and only attack
enemy when it withdraws – only then can you concentrate all the forces you have so you have the greatest chance to annhilate it.
• In military terms, has some things in common with Chinese strategy. Byzantine manual says
“seiges are foolish so don't try them, battles are dangerous and not to be undertaken without net
assessment of your odds, as well as doing everything you can to strengthen your forces.”
Byzantines believe an immediate withdrawal is a smart choice. Not how the Romans trained
Byzantines incorporate intel, subversion in every way. Byzantine military manuals emphasize
significance of recon more than any other ancient text. Says you need to conduct recon and end the
ability of the enemy to do so – disrupting. Byzantine assumption is enemy with try to deceive you –
one function of cavalry forces is to penetrate the fog of war. Need constant reliance on scouts. Say
scouts should be in three groups – one to get as close as possible, another at the far visual horizon of
the first group, who can signal the first and third group, the last of which can carry info to a
commander. Byzantine manuals emphasize spies, but there's little historical data to allow us to see how
they operate. How significant spies are is something we have to guess at. Make recon and tactical intel
gathering a number one requirement, use it to conduct mobile operations. Subversion linked to this.
Byzantines constantly say best way to beat enemy army is break it up politically. Be constantly in touch
with lower factional leaders, officers, in other groups. Daily activity even in peace maintaining these
connections. Byzantines are not afraid to bribe or buy off foreigners. Must ensure in times of peace you
know who matters, so when war takes place you can influence them, split and wreck their army.
Byzantines, when talking about tactics and operations, talk about political warfare as common practice.
Build all of this into their strategy from beginning.
In higher levels, same focus exists:
Byzantine strategic texts are filled with net assessments. By