Plan XVII

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Plan XVII was the name of a "scheme of mobilization and concentration" that was adopted by the French General Staff in 1913, to be put into effect by the French Army in the event of war between France and Germany but was not ‘a prescribed narrative for the campaign’ or battle plan.Porch, Douglas "French War Plans, 1914: The ‘Balance of Power Paradox’ " The Journal of Strategic Studies Vol. 29, No. 1, 117-118

Background

Following the defeat of the French armies during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the French military had to adapt to a new balance of power in Europe. The emergence of the German Empire on the other side of the Rhine, combined with the loss of Alsace and Lorraine, seriously weakened France's strategic position.

In 1898, the French General Staff adopted Plan XIV. Taking into account the numerical inferiority of the French Army, Plan XIV was a offensive strategy along the Franco-German border. Besides the increasing disparity in population (by the turn of the century France had a stagnant population of around forty million, compared to fifty million Germans) there was also the problem of reserves. The war of 1870-71 had demonstrated the ability of the German General Staff to make use of the German railroad network to deploy its armies and its capability to quickly mobilize its reservists into front-line units. While the French General Staff began to apply the lessons of the use of railways, the question of...
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