THE GERMAN ARMY, the Texas prisons, and Carver High School did a better job than their rivals because they were, or became, better organizations.
The key difference between the German army in 1940 and its French opponents was not in grand strategy, but in tactics and organizational arrangements well-suited to implementing those tactics. Both sides drew lessons from the disastrous trench warfare of World War I. The Germans drew the right ones.
By the end of that war, it was evident to all that large frontal assaults by infantry against well-entrenched soldiers manning machine guns and supported by artillery would not be successful. A rifleman who must cross three hundred yards of No Man's Land, slipping and staggering through the countless shell holes made by his own side's artillery bombardment and desperately trying to get over Or around barbed-wire barricades, had no chance against the murderous fire of dug-in machine guns. The French decided that under these circumstances the advantage belonged to the defense, and so organized their armies around a squad (or groupe de combat) of twelve men whose task it was to fire, serve, and support a machine gun. The rifle was regarded as a subsidiary weapon; only three riflemen were assigned to a groupe and their level of training was low. These soldiers, dedicated to the support of the machine gunners, were ideally suited to defend a trench but hopelessly ill-suited to a war of maneuver.1