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Old December 19th, 2015, 10:42 AM   #41
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It's the accent, rather than the military prowess. The British program Alo! Alo! highlights it.
It also rips the pee out of the German accent and Englishmen trying to blend in in France.
Mark Twain described the English way of making 'foreigners' understand them. If they don't understand a question, the Englishman raises his voice as well as slowing it down as if talking to a Moron.
It is in his excellent book 'Innocents Abroad' followed by his even better book 'More Tramps Abroad'.
Which had almost nothing to do with the thread.
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Old December 19th, 2015, 12:27 PM   #42

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200k Americans =/= 3k French. Period. That would be like saying that 2 guys fighting each other in a village of 30 is the same when factoring for size as the Iraq war. Commanding 200k men in an actual large scale conflict takes a lot more organization, poltical will and military know-how than commanding 3k men in a country where government forces are friendly fighting against a collection of irregulars. The Gulf and Iraq wars actually involved large-scale modern combat. Its silly to compare them to Mali.




The French were not trying to replace the government of Mali, it was friendly to them to begin with. They were assisting the existing government, not invading a hostile country. Iraq was orders of magnitude more difficult than Mali.


I mean put it this way: has France demonstrated the ability to maintain a large number of men and materiel over a longer period of time? Nope
Has France engaged in any air-to-air combat of meaningful quantity in recent memory? Not that I know of
Does France have any experience with armored combat in recent years? Same as above.

Mali only proves that France is capable of small-scale conflicts with the aid of the local government. It does not prove Frances warmaking capacity in any large-scale conflict and is not even in the same ballpark as Iraq.
It was already said (much better than I could do), why and how European armies are not conceived as US army.

So comparison is difficult.

We cannot know how France can do in an invasion campaign, and I think we have little chance to find out.

So discussing that aspect is a bit pointless.

It's been said more than once: French army did extremely well in the missions it had to accomplish.

How it would do in missions it never had to accomplish … well, that's pure speculating. We can't reasonably say anything about something never happened.
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Old December 19th, 2015, 12:38 PM   #43

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The Gulf and Iraq wars actually involved large-scale modern combat. Its silly to compare them to Mali.
You do realize that the French were involved in the Persian Gulf War in 1991, right? They had a unit that was on the far left flank and went WITH the main American armored forces and I believe did see some action.

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The French were not trying to replace the government of Mali, it was friendly to them to begin with. They were assisting the existing government, not invading a hostile country. Iraq was orders of magnitude more difficult than Mali.
Yes, but that doesn't address capability or fully analyze the match up. Iraq in 2003 was not some major regional power. Their armored formations had largely been destroyed in the Persian Gulf War, and the tanks they had were obsolete even in 1991... Their air force had been destroyed in the Persian Gulf war, and the air to air battles were limited even in 1991.

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I mean put it this way: has France demonstrated the ability to maintain a large number of men and materiel over a longer period of time? Nope
In recent years... no they haven't... but then neither have had to. To say they can't do that because they haven't been in such a conflict is more to simply bash them to honestly critique their capabilities.

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Has France engaged in any air-to-air combat of meaningful quantity in recent memory? Not that I know of.
And since Vietnam... NEITHER has the US. We've bombed plenty of targets, but for the most part, with stealth technology, we've been able to strike radar instillations and make the enemy incapable of scrambling fighters in time to counter non-stealth aircraft. There were some air to air battles in the Persian Gulf War, but they were few in number and faced no real test. After that, US pilots have not engaged enemy pilots of any kind...

In fact, since Vietnam, America's air wars have pretty much been exactly like France's present bombing campaign against ISIS. We've gone in, bombed stuff to the ground and left.

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Does France have any experience with armored combat in recent years? Same as above.
Outside of the unit they had in the Persian Gulf War, probably not. Though the French have had some units in Lebanon as a sort of peacekeeping force to keep Israel and Hezbollah separated. And that really isn't that different from the armored combat that most nations have engaged in...

And for the US, US tankers haven't seen real armored combat since the Persian Gulf War, and even that would be a poor sampling. The Iraqi tanks in that war were woefully out of date in 1991 and lacked the firepower and armor to take on the M1A1 Abrams in direct combat. It lead to a shooting gallery against T-64s, T-62s, and T-55s, and maybe the occasional T-72. After this point, Iraq lacked any real armored force...

And as such, America's tanks have only been used in the manner in which they'd been intended in World War I... as infantry support. And the loss of Abrams main battle tanks to IEDs in Iraq would demonstrate the problems the Americans have had with non-conventional warfare... a problem that ANY nation would have trouble with.

The fact that France has not had a real tank on tank battle since 1945 does not mean that France's armored formations are incapable of doing so. They may be "green" but that doesn't mean incapable. As such, that isn't a critique of their capability.

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Mali only proves that France is capable of small-scale conflicts with the aid of the local government. It does not prove Frances warmaking capacity in any large-scale conflict and is not even in the same ballpark as Iraq.
But neither does it prove that they are incapable of doing so, either. The fact that France's actions in Mali to support and assist the Mali government achieved greater military success and stability than America's actions in Iraq and didn't shake France's confidence in its military forces...

And at present, they are more than willing to step up the bombing campaign against ISIS.

By contrast, the US has been experiences a great deal of internal strain from being at war for now nearly 16 years straight with no definitive end in sight. Despite the likely need to put troops on the ground to defeat ISIS, so far... no one's said anything in the US about US troops going in on the ground against ISIS... because America has the fear that it would lead to a repeat of the fighting in Iraq and the strains it took to beat that insurgency, which was very much a Pyrrhic victory for the US...

And in that, while you can quibble over the number of men involved or the scale of the conflict... France's involvement in Mali was a clear success. America's involvement in Iraq was not.
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Old December 19th, 2015, 01:07 PM   #44

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I mean considering that they have the best military record of any European country. In 800 years France has won 132 wars, lost 43 and drawn 10, making them the most successful nation in the history of Europe military wise.

It seems to me that some people base all of French military history on World War II.

Look it up. Its true
Its pointless arguing with such people. It would be like an astrophysicists trying to convince a flat earther than the world is round.
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Old December 19th, 2015, 09:54 PM   #45
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It was already said (much better than I could do), why and how European armies are not conceived as US army.

So comparison is difficult.

We cannot know how France can do in an invasion campaign, and I think we have little chance to find out.

So discussing that aspect is a bit pointless.

It's been said more than once: French army did extremely well in the missions it had to accomplish.

How it would do in missions it never had to accomplish … well, that's pure speculating. We can't reasonably say anything about something never happened.
Again - I never said France cant fight a major war. I said you cant use limited conflicts to show how they would perform since they dont put nearly the same strain on a countrys military or society as a large scale war - performance in a limited conflict is simply not representative of the entire military since only a fraction (typically the best part of it) was involved.

And to add: I never said French people cant fight - they are humans like the rest of us so they are obviously good fighters if they are trained to do it.

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You do realize that the French were involved in the Persian Gulf War in 1991, right? They had a unit that was on the far left flank and went WITH the main American armored forces and I believe did see some action.
Yes, in a limited and subsidiary role as part of a much larger force. In fact we know very little about what the French unit did as it was placed there specifically to avoid the Iraqi T-72s as a result of the AMX-30s poor armor.

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Yes, but that doesn't address capability or fully analyze the match up. Iraq in 2003 was not some major regional power. Their armored formations had largely been destroyed in the Persian Gulf War, and the tanks they had were obsolete even in 1991... Their air force had been destroyed in the Persian Gulf war, and the air to air battles were limited even in 1991.
And remind me - who was it that did the biggest part of destroying the Iraqi armed forces in the Gulf War?

Besides the point is that America could and did send some 200,000 men overseas to fight a hostile country. Would France be able to do so?


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In recent years... no they haven't... but then neither have had to. To say they can't do that because they haven't been in such a conflict is more to simply bash them to honestly critique their capabilities.
I am not bashing France. I am saying you cant compare Mali to Iraq or for that matter the French military with that of the USA. The latter simply has a larger budget and more experience and has demonstrated that it is capable of putting hundreds of thousands of men in the field and maintaining said force in an effective manner.


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And since Vietnam... NEITHER has the US. We've bombed plenty of targets, but for the most part, with stealth technology, we've been able to strike radar instillations and make the enemy incapable of scrambling fighters in time to counter non-stealth aircraft. There were some air to air battles in the Persian Gulf War, but they were few in number and faced no real test. After that, US pilots have not engaged enemy pilots of any kind...

In fact, since Vietnam, America's air wars have pretty much been exactly like France's present bombing campaign against ISIS. We've gone in, bombed stuff to the ground and left.
The Gulf War had 39 air-to-air fights. That is plenty more experience than what France has.

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Outside of the unit they had in the Persian Gulf War, probably not. Though the French have had some units in Lebanon as a sort of peacekeeping force to keep Israel and Hezbollah separated. And that really isn't that different from the armored combat that most nations have engaged in...
Of course not, because most nations lack experience in armored combat. Thats why you cant compare the USA to most nations.

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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
And for the US, US tankers haven't seen real armored combat since the Persian Gulf War, and even that would be a poor sampling. The Iraqi tanks in that war were woefully out of date in 1991 and lacked the firepower and armor to take on the M1A1 Abrams in direct combat. It lead to a shooting gallery against T-64s, T-62s, and T-55s, and maybe the occasional T-72. After this point, Iraq lacked any real armored force...
Iraq actually had T-72s. The point however is not the quality of oppositon but rather the ability to field and maintain large numbers of tanks.

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And as such, America's tanks have only been used in the manner in which they'd been intended in World War I... as infantry support. And the loss of Abrams main battle tanks to IEDs in Iraq would demonstrate the problems the Americans have had with non-conventional warfare... a problem that ANY nation would have trouble with.
Its a myth that Americas tanks were only intended or used as infantry support. Sherman tanks engaged plenty of AFVs during WW II, for instance.

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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
The fact that France has not had a real tank on tank battle since 1945 does not mean that France's armored formations are incapable of doing so. They may be "green" but that doesn't mean incapable. As such, that isn't a critique of their capability.
I never said it was incapable. I said that Mali never put their ability to field a large tank formation to the test.

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But neither does it prove that they are incapable of doing so, either. The fact that France's actions in Mali to support and assist the Mali government achieved greater military success and stability than America's actions in Iraq and didn't shake France's confidence in its military forces...
Of course not, but it was a much smaller challenge to begin with.

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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
And at present, they are more than willing to step up the bombing campaign against ISIS.
France has so far contributed with 9-10 planes and is fighting as part of a coalition.

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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
By contrast, the US has been experiences a great deal of internal strain from being at war for now nearly 16 years straight with no definitive end in sight. Despite the likely need to put troops on the ground to defeat ISIS, so far... no one's said anything in the US about US troops going in on the ground against ISIS... because America has the fear that it would lead to a repeat of the fighting in Iraq and the strains it took to beat that insurgency, which was very much a Pyrrhic victory for the US...
Yes, but Iraq and Afghanistan were not Mali. They involved the toppling of the local government not aiding it. I doubt France would have done any better.


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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
And in that, while you can quibble over the number of men involved or the scale of the conflict... France's involvement in Mali was a clear success. America's involvement in Iraq was not.
Yes but Mali was not nearly as difficult of a challenge to overcome. Its like saying that Hannibals eventual defeat against the Romans makes him a worse commander than Philip of Macedon, because the latter eventually managed to defeat his opposition. Worse, even, because Philip at least faced a very organized and pretty determined opposition in the form of Athens and Thebes. Besides wasnt the French intervention in Mali supported logistically by the USA anyway?

Last edited by Bares; December 19th, 2015 at 10:17 PM.
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Old December 20th, 2015, 10:07 AM   #46

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It all has to do with WW2. The French historically were a powerful country that fell quickly to the Germans. It was unexpected.

There is a descent number of important wars that France was either on the losing side of or won but preformed poorly though. That doesn't justify the hate though.

Lost/Won, but preformed sub par
Hundred years war
Italian wars
War of Spanish succession
Seven years war
Franco-Mexican war
Franco-Prussian war
WW2

To be fair here is the other side of it

Lost, but preformed well/Won
Thirty years war
Nine years war
War of Austrian succession
Napoleonic wars
Crimean war
WW1
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Old December 20th, 2015, 12:43 PM   #47

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Those wars from feudal times have little relevance today, the nature of those conflicts was different from modern wars. France wasn't a nation in the modern sense back then. I'm not an expert on Hundred Years' War but I view it more as a feudal conflict than a national one, after all you had "French" duchies of Burgundy and Aquitaine fighting on the English side.

During the Napoleonic wars French had a huge population compared to other European countries and also benefited from revolutionary improvements of the army like levée en masse.

Just to put these things in perspective.

While it's unfair to judge French military history based on the WWII, let's no go in the opposite extreme and give it some mythical proportions.

Anyway, I think people make fun of the French in general and not just the army when talking about the events in 1940-1945. It has more to do with the fact that there was so little resistance after France was occupied (considering how large France is and that Germany was its biggest rival) when compared to Yugoslavia or Soviet Union.

I think the main reason for this (at least when compared to Yugoslavia) is because in the Balkans there is a long tradition of guerrilla warfare going back to the Ottoman times and the hajduks. People are simply more used to chaotic circumstances so to speak because of the constant turmoil in the region. So while French performed well in WWI on the front, they weren't as eager to fight a guerrilla war which is a whole different type of warfare. Also, they became pacifistic during the peace time and the economic prosperity of the roaring 20s. It's a bit like the modern Western Europe where you can't really imagine your average Westerner to be ready to go to the forrest and fight the enemy at all costs.
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Old December 20th, 2015, 11:11 PM   #48
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Anyway, I think people make fun of the French in general and not just the army when talking about the events in 1940-1945. It has more to do with the fact that there was so little resistance after France was occupied (considering how large France is and that Germany was its biggest rival) when compared to Yugoslavia or Soviet Union.
A couple of things:

The Germans in 1940 locked up 1,5 million young Frenchmen in prison camps. That's about 4% of the population, and the young men with military training, meaning the proportional impact was far higher. Most of these men didn't return to France until the end of WWII.

Because one might also has to ask WHO was going to do the resisting under those circumstances? Certainly there were people able to around still after 1940, and they joined in increasingly large numbers eventually, but 1,5 million military men removed from the equation would make a difference.

The fact that they were locked up by the Germans was also meant they could be held there as a form of guarantee of French good conduct, i.e. all those POWs were also a form of hostage. The Vichy government did try to negotiate their release, with surprisingly little success.

And there was a supply situation. The terms of the German occupation of France meant that France ended up with the problem of paying what the Germans unilateraly demanded. And the Germans arbitarily changed the rate. Most importantly the French public was effectively put on starvation diets, IF they only ate what was permitted according to the rationing system. Of course, people didn't just starve slowly. What they did was to massively trade on the black market. But that still meant the French public after 1940, in the cities especially, was hugely preoccupied with finding enough to eat. (There's a French 1950's classic film about the war years, "La traversée de Paris", Crossing Paris, about a man with a contraband ham in a suitcase trying to make it through Paris by night.)

Finally there was the tremendous personal prestige of Pétain thrown into the balance. He asked the French people to trust him, and being who he was, at the lowest possible point in French history, a very large part of the French public did just that. And he bent over backwards to the Germans.

Of course, there were occipied nations treated FAR more harshly than France. But that's also part of the problem with the tardiness of French post-defeat resistance. It was hard enough to keep them preoccupied, but initially apparently not hard enough to provoke active resistance. The Nazis had the great fortune of finding someone like Pétain with whom something like the Vichy Republic could be created that was just enough of the real thing to seriously confuse a large part of the French public for quite some time.

And that was the point of Vichy for Nazi Germany — to deliver a mangeable France that things could be extracted from to maintain the German war-machine. And the beauty of it all was the Germans could do it with a relatively "soft" occupation, and French authorities (Vichy) at least initially not just helpful towards Germany, but largely trusted by the French (due to Pétain's personal prestige).

That all changed when the Germans pushed the exploitative aspects too far. Vichy tried negotiating the release of the French POWs from Germany in return for implementing the STO, i.e. the obligatory work service where French workers were sent to Germany. And that didn't even work, since the Germans never released more than a drip of French POWs in return. While being called up by the STO and shipped off to Germany was very unpopular. It was when that kind of notice arrived that Frenchmen often went into the forest to join the "Army of the Interior" instead, from 1943 onwards.

The other bit that really made Vichy lose the French public was the consistent prosecution of black-market trading. It sentenced a cool million Frenchmen for that "crime". And it did so at German behest. The French were spending their time scrounging for a living, black market trading included, becasue it wasn't actually possibly to live on the rations, and that kept them from engaging too much in politics — until Vichy by prosecuting them for it made the whole situation political.

On balance why large scale resistance was relatively late to kick off in France in WWII isn't that hard to explain. It's just that it was a very special case. The Germans wanted a situation with as manageable a France as could be found, and had the great fortune of being able to enlist someone like Pétain to do it for them. And it wasn't just the French public that was taken in by the deception of Vichy — the US government for the longest time in WWII was as well.

The explanations are all there in the quite peculiar French situation in WWII, but certainly not as an effect of some kind of mystic deficit of character due to general "Frenchness".
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Old December 21st, 2015, 09:38 AM   #49

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Yes, in a limited and subsidiary role as part of a much larger force. In fact we know very little about what the French unit did as it was placed there specifically to avoid the Iraqi T-72s as a result of the AMX-30s poor armor.
But in a way, they were still in a key position to protect the flank of the attack... Though the Iraqi army had been so battered by air power that there probably wasn't a real threat to the flank...

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And remind me - who was it that did the biggest part of destroying the Iraqi armed forces in the Gulf War?
I'd argue Allied air power... but US Abrams, British Challengers, and even Bradly Fighting Vehicles did damage to Iraqi armored units...

The French unit on the flank probably ran into some Iraq units as they retreated... but unfortunately, most of what I've seen on the Persian Gulf War has only made mention that they were there... and didn't go into their action in any detail.

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Besides the point is that America could and did send some 200,000 men overseas to fight a hostile country. Would France be able to do so?
If they had to? Yes. The issue though is that no one has had a real reason for a "major" war since WWII for the European powers and potentially Vietnam for the US. Just about everything else was a small conflict.

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I am not bashing France. I am saying you cant compare Mali to Iraq or for that matter the French military with that of the USA. The latter simply has a larger budget and more experience and has demonstrated that it is capable of putting hundreds of thousands of men in the field and maintaining said force in an effective manner.
The US has a greater budget and size... but it also holds standing as a global power with an active role in nearly everything on the planet.

France by contrast is only a regional power that has to pick its battles far more carefully. It has power and influence in Europe, but since the economic and military losses it took in both World Wars... it really lacked the ability to truly hold on to its colonies which were partially what made France a global power up until 1940...

So, while France surely has the capacity to do so if forced... they simply haven't been on that level of power where they have the capacity to simply do so because they want to...

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The Gulf War had 39 air-to-air fights. That is plenty more experience than what France has.
But with modern radar and missiles. A French Mirage or Rafale fighter armed with radar guided air to air missiles would have probably had the same success rate that the American F-15s had in the war...

And still, 39 air to air engagements is tiny when compared to the air battles in Vietnam. And since most of the pilots from 1991 have likely retired by now, new US pilots may not be getting first hand experience on air to air combat and thus are green.

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Of course not, because most nations lack experience in armored combat. Thats why you cant compare the USA to most nations.
But to a great extent, that includes the US. The Iraqis in 2003 didn't have substantial armored forces and what they did have were all left over from the Persian Gulf War, and still leads to a issue of uneven equipment. The Abrams was a by far more powerful weapon than anything in Iraqi arsenal...

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Iraq actually had T-72s. The point however is not the quality of oppositon but rather the ability to field and maintain large numbers of tanks.
But even the T-72 was obsolete when compared with the Abrams...

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Its a myth that Americas tanks were only intended or used as infantry support. Sherman tanks engaged plenty of AFVs during WW II, for instance.
The early M4 Sherman was equipped with a low muzzle velocity 75mm gun and came into service at the same time as the German Tiger I. That gun was completely ineffective and the Sherman would have to close to within 100 yards just to penetrate the Tiger from the side.

Shermans did engage plenty of German tanks in WWII, but it should be remembered that the Germans had large numbers of tanks in WWII. US doctrine at that time was more to use its tank destroyers to deal with German tanks and let the Shermans support the infantry. It wasn't until 1944 when the British introduced the Firefly variant of the Sherman and the US began to issue late model Shermans that had been up-gunned to a long barreled high velocity 76mm gun in order to deal with the German tanks they were bound to run into on the attack.

It wasn't until AFTER World War II that the US really began to build tanks for tank to tank combat and stopped making tank destroyers. That was the whole Main Battle Tank concept, and that was what the Abrams was built for... but after the Persian Gulf War and with the likelihood of a war against a foe with massed armored formations being low... the tank had to be ready for infantry support because there wasn't going to be a large number of tanks to face.

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Of course not, but it was a much smaller challenge to begin with.
A smaller challenge, yes, but the difference in planning and success is clear. Taking on bigger challenges doesn't excuse poor planning.

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France has so far contributed with 9-10 planes and is fighting as part of a coalition.
America wasn't alone in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The British provided combat troops and a few other nations provided some support combat units and most of the coalition helped with logistical and support services.

France is part of a coalition, but to a great extent... so has been the US.

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Yes, but Iraq and Afghanistan were not Mali. They involved the toppling of the local government not aiding it. I doubt France would have done any better.
French troops were involved in the coalition that went into Afghanistan in 2001 and did contribute combat troops to that effort, as per NATO's treaty that if one member was attacked the others would support it. And to my knowledge the French did have some success in Afghanistan. One US soldier who had been placed with them as a liaison even wrote an article that the French troops he was with demonstrated a level of bravery and desire to get at the enemy that most Americans wouldn't even now about because their study of France's military history ENDS at June 1940.

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Besides wasnt the French intervention in Mali supported logistically by the USA anyway?
To my knowledge... no. America didn't even want France to go into Mali at all. If logistical aid was given, it came late and after it was clear that France wasn't going to do whatever the US commanded...
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Old December 21st, 2015, 09:59 AM   #50

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A couple of things:

The Germans in 1940 locked up 1,5 million young Frenchmen in prison camps. That's about 4% of the population, and the young men with military training, meaning the proportional impact was far higher. Most of these men didn't return to France until the end of WWII.

Because one might also has to ask WHO was going to do the resisting under those circumstances? Certainly there were people able to around still after 1940, and they joined in increasingly large numbers eventually, but 1,5 million military men removed from the equation would make a difference.

The fact that they were locked up by the Germans was also meant they could be held there as a form of guarantee of French good conduct, i.e. all those POWs were also a form of hostage. The Vichy government did try to negotiate their release, with surprisingly little success.

And there was a supply situation. The terms of the German occupation of France meant that France ended up with the problem of paying what the Germans unilateraly demanded. And the Germans arbitarily changed the rate. Most importantly the French public was effectively put on starvation diets, IF they only ate what was permitted according to the rationing system. Of course, people didn't just starve slowly. What they did was to massively trade on the black market. But that still meant the French public after 1940, in the cities especially, was hugely preoccupied with finding enough to eat. (There's a French 1950's classic film about the war years, "La traversée de Paris", Crossing Paris, about a man with a contraband ham in a suitcase trying to make it through Paris by night.)

Finally there was the tremendous personal prestige of Pétain thrown into the balance. He asked the French people to trust him, and being who he was, at the lowest possible point in French history, a very large part of the French public did just that. And he bent over backwards to the Germans.

Of course, there were occipied nations treated FAR more harshly than France. But that's also part of the problem with the tardiness of French post-defeat resistance. It was hard enough to keep them preoccupied, but initially apparently not hard enough to provoke active resistance. The Nazis had the great fortune of finding someone like Pétain with whom something like the Vichy Republic could be created that was just enough of the real thing to seriously confuse a large part of the French public for quite some time.

And that was the point of Vichy for Nazi Germany — to deliver a mangeable France that things could be extracted from to maintain the German war-machine. And the beauty of it all was the Germans could do it with a relatively "soft" occupation, and French authorities (Vichy) at least initially not just helpful towards Germany, but largely trusted by the French (due to Pétain's personal prestige).

That all changed when the Germans pushed the exploitative aspects too far. Vichy tried negotiating the release of the French POWs from Germany in return for implementing the STO, i.e. the obligatory work service where French workers were sent to Germany. And that didn't even work, since the Germans never released more than a drip of French POWs in return. While being called up by the STO and shipped off to Germany was very unpopular. It was when that kind of notice arrived that Frenchmen often went into the forest to join the "Army of the Interior" instead, from 1943 onwards.

The other bit that really made Vichy lose the French public was the consistent prosecution of black-market trading. It sentenced a cool million Frenchmen for that "crime". And it did so at German behest. The French were spending their time scrounging for a living, black market trading included, becasue it wasn't actually possibly to live on the rations, and that kept them from engaging too much in politics — until Vichy by prosecuting them for it made the whole situation political.

On balance why large scale resistance was relatively late to kick off in France in WWII isn't that hard to explain. It's just that it was a very special case. The Germans wanted a situation with as manageable a France as could be found, and had the great fortune of being able to enlist someone like Pétain to do it for them. And it wasn't just the French public that was taken in by the deception of Vichy — the US government for the longest time in WWII was as well.

The explanations are all there in the quite peculiar French situation in WWII, but certainly not as an effect of some kind of mystic deficit of character due to general "Frenchness".
EXCELENT POST!

I think it's the first time I'm shouting in the forum, to say how much I appreciated it.

It's one of those different, interesting angles of view that is not enough represented in historic analysis.

Thank You.
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