Uneasy Coalition: The Entente Experience in World War I

By Jehuda L. Wallach | Go to book overview

5
COORDINATION CONFERENCES AND COORDINATION BODIES

In spite of agreements that were made before the war began, as described in Chapter 2, no practical measures were taken by the potential alliance partners to ensure that the coalition would function properly. In this context, General Joffre's critical afterthought has already been mentioned. 1 The lack of coordination in the initial phase of the war was criticized more precisely by Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty. His analysis defined the full extent of the problem: The alliance suffered grievously at the beginning of the war from the want of a common clearing house where the different relative values of politics and strategy could be established and exchanged. He maintained that a single prolonged conference between the Allied chiefs, civil and martial, in January 1915 might have saved the alliance from inestimable misfortunes. Things could never be thrashed out by correspondence. Principals must meet, and plans must be concerted in common. Instead, each Allied state pursued more or less its own course, keeping the others informed. Armies and navies dwelt in every country in separate compartments. The war problem, which was all one, was approached from many different and disconnected stand- points. He stressed that war, which knows no rigid divisions between French, Russian and British Allies, between land, sea and air, between gaining victories and alliances, between supplies and fighting men, between propaganda and machinery, was in fact simply the sum of an forces and pressures operative at a given period, and was dealt with piecemeal. Therefore years of hard learning were necessary before even imperfect unifications of study, thought, command and action were achieved. 2

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Uneasy Coalition: The Entente Experience in World War I
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Military Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1 - Suggestions for a Typology of Wartime Coalitions 1
  • 2 - Prewar Planning Between Allies and Potential Allies 7
  • Notes 19
  • 3 - Particularistic Interests in the Coalition 21
  • Notes 41
  • 4 - Human Relations 45
  • Notes 70
  • 5 - Coordination Conferences and Coordination Bodies 75
  • Notes 97
  • 6 - General Reserve and Unified Command 101
  • Notes 117
  • 7 - Amalgamation of Forces 119
  • Notes 129
  • 8 - Logistics and War Finances 131
  • Notes 149
  • 9 - Alliance on the Peace Path 153
  • Notes 167
  • 10 - Conclusions and Lessons 169
  • Notes 176
  • Appendix A Members of the Alliance 177
  • Appendix B Sessions of the Supreme War council (SWC) 179
  • Appendix C Inter-Allied Committees 181
  • Bibliography 183
  • Index 187
  • About the Author 193
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