From Slingshots to Stealth Jets
For 2,000 years, Balkan forces have used their enemies’ weapons with devastating results, says historian Michael Bradley
Ottawa Citizen, May 22, 1999: B7
Alexander the Great was called “the Great” and not “the Mentally Challenged” because he refused to attack the Balkans. Although a Macedonian himself–or possibly because he was a Macedonian–Alexander made no attempt to bring order and stability to his Balkan neighbours before setting out to subjugate the known world. He conquered Egypt, Asia Minor and Persia. He left the Balkans alone.
The Romans refused to learn from Alexander’s example. Aemillus Paullus was certain that Roman technology would be successful in Illyria (Latin for “Balkans”).
Initially, things looked hopeful for Paullus. The Romans led a coalition of coerced client states and allies that the Romans called NATO (Novus Adriaticae Terrae Ordum–“New Order for Adriatic Lands”…well, it could have been called NATO). NATO won the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC and stability in the Balkans seemed assured. But then Perseus of Macedonia began a mountain guerrilla warfare campaign of unremitting brutality that lasted for eight years. This ended in the death of Aemillus Paullus in 160 BC and the retreat of NATO.
The problem was Roman technology itself. Before the NATO invasion, mountain tribes of Bulgars, Macedons, Serbs, Croats, Montenegrans etc. had only used stones for their slings. The Romans, with their superior technology and disciplined army, issued each NATO soldier with modern cookware made of lead.
Unfortunately, Romans never took the next step of investing a quartermaster corps, so troops could avoid the perils of foraging.
It did not take long for the Balkan tribesmen to learn to melt this cookware down into improved sling projectiles–lead balls about an inch in caliber that dented legionary helmets and the skulls beneath, with monotonous regularity.
These projectiles forced the retreat of NATO forces. On his deathbed, Aemillus Paullus warned his successor, tribune Scipio Lucius Galbus “to beware of the Balkan bees”–meaning the improved lead projectiles.
By the way, the Romans (who only crucified people and fed Christians to lions and tortured people for arena sport) were horrified at the atrocities committed by Balkan tribes.
History not fading.