Ferdinand Foch and the Principles of War

There are three reasons Americans should study French military strategy. The first is that the French military has an intellectual tradition that stretches back at least to the 18th century, and more than a few French military theorists draw on that tradition and are enriched by it. Their work is sophisticated, and they write well. Second, the disastrous losses that Americans too often associate with the French military and that encourage them to dismiss the French should do the opposite; the failures make the French worth reading. Every generation of French officers since the catastrophe of the Franco-Prussian War has had to grapple with failure and think hard about the challenges of modern warfare. Third, relatedly, the French view everything from the perspective of scarcity, meaning they assume they have to compensate for a lack of resources with smarts and courage, and by making the most of what they have.

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