The Principles of War Podcast
Battle of France Podcast

70 – The French Centre of Gravity – Battle of France 1940 Part VI

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These are the show notes for the podcast episode about the French Centre of Gravity.  This is the third part of our CoG analysis for the Battle of France 1940 series.

We discuss the Centre of Gravity for the French during the Battle of France, 1940.

We use the ends, ways and means methodology from COL Dale Eikmeier  to determine what the Centre of Gravity for the French Government was.  Their endstate was shaped significantly by their WW1 experience, generating a strong desire to fight on someone else’s territory.  

From a temporal analysis viewpoint, the French believed that the next war would be a long one and that would suit them – giving them time to mobilise and then out build Germany.  Time was critical for the mobilisation with a large Reserve Army and mobilisation taking time.  Time was required to ensure the French Army was fully ready for combat.

Much of the French industrial base and resources were close to the German border, so there was little opportunity to trade time for space.  

Pierre-Charles Taittinger, from the Champagne house, lead a parliamentary delegation to look at the defences in Sedan.  He anticipated the risk that the French Army was running – β€œIn this region, we are entirely too much taken with the idea that the Ardennes woods and the Meuse River will shield Sedan and we assign entirely too much significance e to these natural obstacles. The defences in this sector are rudimentary.”  Potentially the French Army’s assessment of the defensive nature of the Ardennes Forest and Meuse River could qualify as the worst terrain assessment of the war and potentially all of the Twentieth Century.

Thank you to the British Army’s Lessons Exploitation Centre for the assistance with getting the resources for this podcast series.

Have a listen to the podcast and let us know what you think about the CoG analysis.

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Fall Gelb Battle Map
The Allied plan of battle in response to Fall Gelb. The Maginot deterred the Germans and saw an invasion around the Maginot Line – the French Centre of Gravity, initially through the low countries.

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