Spartans and Special Forces

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Spartans and Special Forces; Who’s the toughest?
Origins of Western Culture, HUM 101

The Spartans were the Special Forces (SF) of their time. Now we have Delta Force, Navy SEALS, Green Berets, Marine Force RECON and Army Rangers. All are small elite groups of warriors trained to kill. How many of today’s warriors would equal one Spartan? Given the vast differences in technology and the way that battles are fought, who would come out on top? Spartan warriors are taken from their families at the age of seven to begin the training of a warrior. These boys where placed into groups also referred to as “packs” and sent to Agoge, what we today call boot camp. While in Agoge they became accustomed to hardship and given just minimal amounts of food and clothing to survive. By having just enough to get by they were encouraged to steal. If they where caught stealing they would be punished, not for stealing, but for being caught. The boys where also encouraged to compete in mock fights and games to promote unity. They learned songs of Spartan victories and how to read and write. They didn’t learn how to read and write for cultural purposes, but rather so that they could read maps. When the boys reached the age of 12 they became youths. Much more was demanded of youths than children. They began a more intensified physical training regime, were given extra tasks and discipline became harsher. They were forced to go barefoot and wear only a tunic in both summer and winter. When the boys reached the age of 18 they became young adults. They served as trainers for the youths. Also included in this category where the most promising youths. These elite boys where the ones that stood out among all others and chosen for possible leadership positions. When a Spartan turned 20 years of age he became eligible for service in the military. They joined a “messes” ( a group meal ) consisting of fifteen men of various ages. The ones who where not chosen for the messes where given a lesser citizenship. Only soldiers where of equal status and rank. Until the age of thirty the Spartan soldiers spent almost all of their time in the barracks with the unit. This included even soldiers that where married. Spartans remained in the military until the age of sixty. Today, at the age of seven, children are in school and living with their families in a warm home. They have enough food and clothing provided that there is no need to steal. The only type of training they are receiving is basic schooling and fighting gets you in nothing but trouble. The only other type of military training a child can receive would be if they where sent to a military academy and only wealthiest of families can afford to do that. At the age of 12 what was expected of youths is a little more demanding than that of a child. You are expected to do more chores and the physical training is from playing with your friends or gym class at school. We definitely didn’t wear a tunic in both summer and winter and you are only barefoot if you want to be. We have plenty of clothes for all seasons and footwear to stay protected from the elements. Now we reach the age of 18 and you have either graduated from high school or received your GED. Then and only then you are allowed to join the military after meeting one of these two goals. For the most fortunate of this age group, they may go to college. For the ones who want to become leaders in the military they go to a military academy like West Point or The Citadel to become officers. For those who chose to just join the military, they go to basic training. This is nothing compared to what the Spartans have already been through. They have already been in training now for 12 years. Basic training only lasts eight weeks and then you go on to your military occupational specialty (MOS) school which could last up to a year. If you become and infantryman like a Spartan begins as, you have an additional 11 weeks of...
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