The Principles of War Podcast
Battle of FranceCoG AnalysisPodcast

68 – British Centre of Gravity Analysis – Battle of France 1940 Part IV

This is the first of a 4 part miniseries on Centre of Gravity analysis for the Battle of France, 1940.   We look at 3 interesting examples of Centers of Gravity at the Grand Strategic level.

  1. The British CoG under the Chamberlain Government.
  2. The British CoG under the Churchill Government.  The change of government is bought on by a desire to change the endstate and that change requires a completely new CoG construct.
  3. The French CoG.  A strong, powerful deterrent which the German Wehrmacht drove straight into the heart of.  Was it successful?  What went wrong?
  4. The German CoG.  We see the use of an Operational at best CoG at the National Strategic level!  Why?  Was it successful?

We start with a doctrine review – using the British Army’s Land Operations.

A centre of gravity is defined in NATO as: the characteristics, capabilities or localities
from which a nation, an alliance, a military force or other grouping derives its
freedom of action, physical strength or will to fight. The purpose of a centre of
gravity analysis is to identify actor vulnerabilities that can either be attacked or
threatened, or be protected or strengthened. Designed for strategic and operational level analysis, it is also a useful tool for land forces at the tactical level.

British Centre of Gravity construct from Land Operations.

The centre of gravity can be deduced from analysis of what actors need to
achieve their aim. It describes the primary element of their power in relation to
a particular situation. At the tactical level, a centre of gravity of military actors,
friendly or enemy, is usually the principal physical element of their force. By dint of
being the centre of gravity, its defeat leads to that of the force as a whole. While
a centre of gravity is relatively enduring, it is not fixed; understanding must be
continuously refreshed to test whether the original assessment remains valid.

This episode looks at the Centre of Gravity of the British Government under PM Neville Chamberlain.

We conduct the analysis using the DIME construct. Diplomatic, Informational, Military and Economic. For more information, read the US document ‘Strategy’ JDN 1-18.

For more information, please read Robin Prior’s excellent book – When Britain saved the West, the story of 1940.

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

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