Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The rule of 12

I’ve mentioned before that there seems to be something magic in having a group of 12 men.

Última_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5
Última_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5

 

I’ve mentioned before that there seems to be something magic in having a group of 12 men. Juries, squads, and more.

I bring it up now because in Tonio Andrade, in his fine book, The Gunpowder Age, mentions that Qi Jiguang, a 16th century Chinese military leader who was a proponent of the musket, organized his fighters into 12-man teams, with two squads of five, a team leader, and a cook/logistician.

 

I’ve mentioned before that there seems to be something magic in having a group of 12 men. Juries, squads, and more.

I bring it up now because in Tonio Andrade, in his fine book, The Gunpowder Age, mentions that Qi Jiguang, a 16th century Chinese military leader who was a proponent of the musket, organized his fighters into 12-man teams, with two squads of five, a team leader, and a cook/logistician.

In military terms, my guess is that this is big enough to be strong and to maneuver, yet small enough to have good cohesion. Yet there must be more than that. Why should a jury necessarily have 12 people? Why 12 apostles? One for each month of the year?

Image credit: Leonardo da Vinci/Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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