FY 52 BCE Budget Approval Meeting

Pivot to Decimation

Rob Zacny

Salve, soldiers of the 9th Legion!

Today is a difficult day. As many of you know, strategic conditions have changed along the Transalpine frontier. Record increases in supply costs, a challenging growth environment in the Black Forest, and disappointing results from many of our parent Republic’s ventures in Asia Minor have forced us to make some hard choices. That is why we have decided to decimate the 9th.

We have undertaken an extensive study of all our operations over these past months, enabling us to conduct random executions of one man in 10. Your HR Prefects will be meeting with your teams later today to draw lots. This is not the news I hoped to be sharing with you today, and I know many of you will be disappointed. I am disappointed as well, and share your pain, though obviously not all of it.

Many of you have already asked me why the legion finds itself in this situation given our many victories in recent years. We have, after all, made many new conquests on behalf of Rome, set records for loot returned to the city, and thanks to your efforts, we face no strategic rival for the first time in our history.

If you take a wider view, however, you will see that while we achieved all our missions and brought glory to our eagle and wealth to the Republic, we lost sight of sustainability. I share some blame for this: when we were building our mighty works and engines to subdue the ruthless and innumerable Gaul, we were not taking our budget as seriously as we ought to have been. Moving forward, we should plan on winning victories without the expensive tactics we have grown dependent on, and we should look for efficiencies in how we conduct our operations, like employing more local auxiliaries, or fighting only those battles that will result in decisive victories yielding large swaths of valuable territory and rich returns in liquid assets.

Likewise, I know that the cleanliness and comfort of our camps, the quality and maintenance of our equipment, and the health and well-being of our soldiers were all major elements in our recent triumphs. But we have to start asking ourselves whether our camps need to be this free of excrement and pests, whether our short swords could not be even shorter, or whether every soldier really needs to be fed and sheltered all the time.

Many of our competitors have already adopted similar lean practices and while we have crushed them in every open battle for the past decade, we have no choice but to accept that this is where our business is headed. Toward a paradigm where attrition goes from being a problem to be feared to an opportunity for us to embrace.

This is a sad time to be a member of the 9th, and I encourage all of you who remain to reach out to your former coworkers. To strangle and club them, yes, but also to comfort them and wish them well in the Stygian abyss, where I know we all expect great things from them.

Before I go, I wanted to add two notes about the future of the 9th, one personal and one administrative. First, it has been the honor of my life to lead you these last years, but the time has come for me to return to my estate in Italy. In many ways it is a home we built together: the spoils of our victories paid for its construction, after all, and I will think of you often as I supervise the slaves tending my vineyards in the autumn of my life.

Second, I wanted to call out our incredible team of tribunes and centurions, whose mentorship and entrepreneurial spirit have made the 9th what it is. You will be more important than ever in the coming months, as I am advised that we will going back on the offensive this summer. Meeting the ambitious goals of our stakeholders will require increased strength. It will fall to you to recruit and train new legionaries for our upcoming battles. Please have ready, by the time your new legate arrives, a plan to increase your unit’s strength by 8-12 percent.

Rob Zacny (he/him) is a cofounder and partner at Remap. In addition to his work at Remap, he is the host of A More Civilized Age: A Star Wars Podcast and a panelist on Shift+F1, a Formula 1 racing podcast. You can follow his increasingly inactive social media presence on Twitter, and Bluesky.

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