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April 18 , 2009

German General Staff In World War I


This study reviews the problems of the German General Staff during the First World War in an attempt to highlight successes and understand failures. The investigation focuses on the traditional staff functions of intelligence, operations, logistics and command, control and communications. To obtain a comparison, two epic battles on the Western Front were used, the Battle of the Marne in 1914 and the first spring offensive, Michael, in 1918. This study revealed that the German General Staff did an excellent job in staff thought, planning and execution. However, in the area of command, control and communications they were not as capable. The defeat at the Marne and the eventual failure of Michael were the result of command, control and communications problems which prevented the German General Staff from placing needed forces at a decisive point and time to obtain a strategic victory. These command, control and communications problems provide a constant underlying theme for the defeat of German forces in the First World War. The United States Army faces many of the same command, control, and communications problems faced by the German General Staff almost seventy years ago. This study highlights the German errors so that United States Army will not make the same mistakes.
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