The Akaroa Mail. FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1914. FRENCH STRATEGY.
A coNTBMPOBAKY draws attentioD to tbe lacd tt at a great deal has been [-written obontthe wonderful strategy I of tbe Germans and their organisation I while itio general public is inclined to f Tiaderesumule the strategy of the I JFfonch in repulsing their attackg and uractically driving them back out of ibeir country. The article ia a good plea foi" tbe wisdom of' the French ■ military nuthorities and their pre J jparation:— ; " A great deal had been written jsince tbe beginning of the present jwar about the plans and preparations
of the German War Party, Ger QjaD liiluiyy writers and univarsny..'pro
lessors bavo been discussirjg for years uEHt what the nation ouohfc to dr should war break out with France .01 ilussia or both. The re reading', ul Genera! Yon Bernhardt book io the light of recent events bas proved most interesting, and so much discussion has been devoted to big ideas of strafcfgy that many of us seem to have overlooked the fact that French mili tary authorities have also woiked out their own theories of warfare. Long nefore the war comtnenced they had .jiven the fullest consideration not only to the form of strategy most suit ible to the configuration of the coun cry and the forcos available, but aleo oftving regard to the ideals and temperament of their couritrymen. War is not merely a matter of armament (and numbers, it also has a psychological side, and the importance ol f.his aspect of warfare i 3 fully dwelt on by Yon Bernhadi. The French mill ary experts are equally well awa/e Qow largely success or failure in wac depends upon the mental and moral, as well a3 the physical, forces of the nation concerned. The distinguishing harac&eristics of the French people vvere not forgotten when the plan ol campaign, which is now being tested on the bacdeiieid, was being thought out. The' uuwillmgness of a large dection of the people to engage in an otfehrfive war had to be taken into consideration, and the campaign had to be arranged so as to secure the complete unity of the whole nation, wiihout which the full fightiog. power luf the country could dog be bronghi mo licuon. tf'mnce did not want war, aud ihere migtic huve been souu iukewarmuess about an offensive cam paign at the outset; but German giedsion on French soil, and the advance of the foe.almost to the gates oi Paris united otic nation as notning else could have done. Then came the psychologioal moment for taking the olieasive , and in war offence, at the fight tims, is the beat defence."'
Tbe following remarks as to the plans adopted by ihe Allies are of great interest, as explaining a good dual that was incomprehensible at the
start of the war ;—
There has been much difference of opinion as to whether the gradual tailing back of the Allied forces from Belgium to Paris was caused by force of ciroumstances or whether it was part of the plan of campaign. The public was more than once officially informed that things were happening in acoptdance with expectations, and chad the'plans of the Allies were not bt-irig upset, When the "outlook was dai kast many people found it hard to rest satisfied with these optimistic assurances, but when we look baok upon the course of events from the beginning of the war up to the presets' time, the conclusion is forced upon us that the conflict faa3 procetdad very largely on lines mapped oui by Franch strategists. A writer in the •'Manchester Guardian" states that two strategical conceptions have fought for supremacy io the councils uf Uie higher French command, one bstaud upon a defensive and the other on nn offensive mode of action. Thefouiier is the outcome of the war of 1870 and the spreao , of Socialis \i while the latter is the result of che Napoleonic tradition. The re v'ival of the national spirit in recent years bas strengthened the belief in offensive tactics, but the rival theory has never been abandoned, and a place ba3 baen found for both in the present plan of campaign. The strategy adopted by the Allies is strikingly similar to that advocated over twenty years ago by Captain Gilbert, a French military expert of high standing. In the course of his writ ings he explained these points:
To attack is not everything: it is neees o eary to afrteek with all one's resources and set out only when one is ready. Till then, but only till then, it h necesary to wait, and in order to wnit without submitting (0 the stratfgical law or even the first tactical blows of 1 he more numerous or more rapidly mobilised enemy, it is necessary to gain time by yielding some ground. In our epiuion, there is one situation which in still worse than that of the defensive—namely, a premature and badl>. considered offensivo. This (the preliminary retirement) is an "a priori" retirement and f-acririae of terri tory, but it is a retirement of one's own accord in order the better to-resume the elan. Concentrated at leisure and in Kood conditions, being in possession of all our resources, making u-:e, from our first action, of the immobile elements of the resistance, we shall then set out to seek a battle wi h all our forces.
The Allies are now certaiuly peek ing a battle with all their forcas, moral ag wgII as physical. The .ad vance of tbe huge German wnr ma chine, pushing the B/iiish find French armies right back to Pan*, stirred tho spirit of France to its deepest depths. All sectional divisions and animosities were forgotten, and the nation on the day General Joft'ro iit.aliy decided to take the offensive stood as one man France, with tbe onomy at the.gates of Paris, realised hh kI)o bad never done befor ,l ' that nht* wan fighting for her very li'o. It wan tho paychological moment to Rtriko, llor forces bad been conc--)Mtnitod: (hoy were animuted with tho highost spirit of patriotiflra (irul a. burning indigration at tho inviiuion of their hind by an arrogant fon u Hho throw her wbole hoars into tbo etmgglo, and a'l ber magnificent railitiint qualities aseerted themßolvori with ulmost irresistible power. ■ Dofonco wun turned into of fence, and with tho help of her power ful Allies hoo in now hurling back the Kaiser's hosts. Tho knowledge that she has right behind bor might is one of thoae moral fuctora that ount so much in the history of nations, and which the military strategists of France did not overlook whon making their plaes,