Ulster Fought and the Kaiser Won

First: thanks to everyone who's expressed interest in how things are going!

One thing, I'm not convinced that Belgium would in any extent alow Germany to cross nuraly, not only dose that implicitly make Belgium a co-baligerent to Germany agenst France as far as the laws of war where concerned but this is also the same nation that not only refused to alie dispute Germany doing this agen 20 years later but how also had troops stationed in ostland and Antwerp whith orders to fire agenst the British if they tried to land one moment be for the Belgian government asked for them!
Generaly a valid point I think.
In this case however, France and Germany are on a collision course without working brakes. And the last major power that could help Belgium has just told them that help will not arive, ie they are to avoid conflict with Germany. Add that the Belgians can add that to the situation in Ireland and the result will most likely be working with one side.
This is exactly the dilemma the Belgian government has found itself in - their choice isn't between neutrality and taking a side, but rather which side they take. Hopes and expectations regarding Britain also play a certain role, there; in theory, even if it's highly unlikely that Britain could bring meaningful strength to bear on land due to the escalation of the conflict in Ulster, them giving Germany a glare and threatening intervention could provide the sort of deterrent that Belgium needs to both avoid occupation and becoming a battleground between France and Germany. If they reject Germany entirely, they run the risk of simply picking the wrong side, after all the Germans have far more troops massed near the border than France has ready to support Belgium, and even if they arrive in time, that simply fulfills the latter worry: of being the ground on which the French and German armies make their moves.

With all this in mind, one could say that the decision of the Belgian government is a combination of an attempt to play both sides (passing information to France; allowing the Germans into the country) and simply to be a player rather than the terrain.
 
I assume that Belgium will receive Nord in the peace deal?
Gains for Belgium are definitely on the table, but remember that as long as Belgium remains in an independent position, even one that is strongly under German influence, any gains they make will be strongly tied to what they actually want. It's always possible that, offered all sorts of juicy bits of France, Brussels decides that it would be a poison pill to grab up a big port on the English Channel and get its own faction of French revanchists right after giving up its neutrality. This also ties in a bit to the things present in the next update (which I actually finished just before I read this post, so - good timing!), though it's only the start of a development that takes until mid-late 1915 to really show results.
 
Death of the Septemberprogramm
Death of the Septemberprogramm

The German offensive into France in August was far from the perfectly-planned, clockwork charge to and through Paris that had been simultaneously hoped for by German planners and dreaded by those hoping for a Franco-Russian victory. Belgium's admittance of German troops, originally sprung upon by the Oberste Heeresleitung and civil administration as a method of ensuring the success of the plan to encircle and destroy France's armies, was not unconditional. The delays created by the Belgian government's conditions were not as severe as those that would result from the planned offensive into the country, but combined with the early warning they had given, they proved to be enough that when German troops crossed the border, stretching further west than had first been planned in an ambitious attempt to capitalize on the easy movement of troops through Belgium.

French forces, concentrated south and east of where the primary German advance was now known to be focused, were rapidly reorganized - however, even after the shifting of two armies towards the underdefended border with Belgium, the bulk of French troops remained concentrated around the fortified Franco-German border. These then began an offensive into Alsace-Lorraine, first capturing Mülhausen (Mulhouse) before engaging in a costly push further north into Lorraine; almost all of the gains these early attacks made were lost only weeks later, either due to counter-offensives by German forces or as a result of French withdrawals in the face of the need for further redeployments to the west.

Emerging from Belgium, which was itself in a brief, unstable limbo regarding its diplomatic status vis-à-vis France, German troops faced varying levels of opposition. In the north, Dunkirk fell rapidly, its defenders too few in number and equipment to resist for long. Lille was the site of a battle which favored the French until additional German forces forced a retreat, resulting in another brief siege and bombardment of a fortified but poorly-defended city. Maubeuge fell to the advancing Germans as well, but extracted a high toll from both the German attackers and the newly-arriving French who tried to repulse the final advance.

Yet even as encounter battles and attempts to rapidly overcome fortified obstacles blunted the edge of the German forces, with casualties rising beyond expectations and presenting their own unique challenges to the German Army, they still pushed forwards. The French, increasingly bloodied after initial rapid successes in Alsace-Lorraine, were forced to withdraw, reshuffle, straining their railway network as tens of thousands of men were sent west.

It was during the final days of the rapid advance of German forces that what would be known as the Septemberprogramm came into existence. The result of input from industrialists, military figures as well as discussions had by and with members of the bureaucracy, it summed up what the results of Germany's expected crushing victory were to be. Slivers of France were to be carved off - no large bites like in 1871, merely a few strategic slices, ideally to be granted to Belgium (but, as a note in the margins commented, even in the event of direct annexation, "earlier promises to Britain should not bar the path"). Belgium would then be securely placed in the role of subservient ally, and as a further 'reward' could be given privileged access to the second matter which dominated many of the discussions which birthed the Septemberprogramm: Mitteleuropa, a device by which a Prussia already ruling, through its "majority stake", Germany, which would in turn exert a similar type of control over a system of states tied to Berlin by primarily economic means.

While it is possible to name an exact date - the 7th of September - for the first collection of the Septemberprogramm's catalogue of war goals, the date of its death is less exact. Convincing arguments could be made that the Battle of Amiens, which stopped the advance of the German First Army despite the technical victory, which pushed their French counterparts just past the city and into trenches which would take until October to be cleared. Similarly, the successful reinforcement of Reims and the halting of German forces there offers a tempting choice; after all, the city would stay in French hands until shortly before the fall of Paris, making it a much more permanent victory that the Germans had been stopped before it. Others emphasize the various battles further east, between Reims and Verdun. The argument is simple: even if the other German advances had been stalled, had they continued there they would have simultaneously threatened the flanks of both the defenders of Reims and the French forces still massed around their eastern fortifications.

Broadly speaking, the circumstances that led to the creation of the Septemberprogramm - an apparent rapid, decisive military victory of Germany over France in the opening months of the war, coupled with successful defense against Russia in the East - changed significantly or ceased to exist between mid-September and early October, when the end of the Battle of the Oise marked the final "closing" of the front, as attempts by French and German forces to outflank one another rapidly led to the growth of a line of trenches from several points along the front line. 1914 would see several more German attacks, but none were able to achieve more than at most a regional advance of the front line; as the weather grew colder, German troops shifted to a defensive stance, expanding trenches that served them well in repulsing the generally less successful French attacks in the same period.

Finally, as 1914 ended, the Septemberprogramm was replaced as a general guideline or goal with which to steer policy decisions by the "Payer Memorandum", which was itself even less of a strict policy than its predecessor. Named after the author of the original text, in which arguments are made for a negotiated peace, it quickly grew beyond the original idea and became a hybridized list of new war goals, political strategy and even guidelines for military operations. Gaining the name of "Peace Pincer" ("Friedenszange") and depicted in several political cartoons as a device to squeeze peace from the French through an industrial press combining military strength and "encircling policies of alliance".
 
The Eastern Front in 1914
The War in the East

"The common conception of the Great European War as the source of the technologies and doctrines of modern warfare is not entirely accurate. As is so often the case, innovations that were given an opportunity to prove themselves during the conflict did not spring fully-formed out of a genius inventor's mind after the battles had begun. Instead, they were built on a foundation of other developments, both technical and otherwise. In some cases the pioneering work of first invention had already been done by the time of the war. A perfect example for this late, war-spurred adoption of technology is the 'Motorgeschütz'. An armored, motorized vehicle on treads that carried a cannon built into a turret, itself on a swivel: aside from several details, such as the extensions made to allow passage over larger trenches and similar obstacles, it bears such resemblance to its modern descendents that in 1911 it could without reservation be called revolutionary. However, while its design predates the outbreak of the Great European War by several years, it was rejected until the experiences of German and Austro-Hungarian forces crossing the muddy roads of the Russian Empire's 'Vistula Country' set the armies of both countries onto the path towards rediscovery and development of the design."
- Jean-Enrique de Fauld, introduction to 'History and Development of the Pfz and Other Tracked Fighting Vehicles'

The war that began in August 1914 brought a kaleidoscope of emotion into the German high command. At its very beginning was an unexpected triumph, the opening of Belgium that meant a flanking strike into northern France could be conducted without the need to besiege Belgian fortresses or mask their army to cover the advancing forces. Then there were the early weeks in which the great gamble seemed to be paying off; a rapid victory over the French came ever closer, from the horizon to just outside of the army's reach. Disappointment and worry followed, with the nightmare scenario arising in almost full force: war with France and Russia, two fronts on the opposite sides of Germany. But, despite the pessimistic expectations of many in the army, Britain was not amongst those taking to the field against the German Empire. Better yet, the dreaded Russian steamroller - which at first seemed even more fatal than originally thought, mobilizing with speed below that of the other powers but still above expectations - had been bloodied early into the war with the battles in Galicia/southern Poland and East Prussia.

Even as news from the west grew worse and the heady excitement of August cooled, a new optimism rose. Perhaps the nightmare of a two-front war was not all that it had been feared to be; while the movement of German troops from northern France to the east drew sharp criticism, the successful defense by those that remained against French attempts to retake lost ground, as well as the advances into Russian Poland, lead to the rise of a new confidence in the German Army. After all, one could perhaps muse in the closing weeks of 1914, German troops had proven themselves to be masters of both the attack *and* the defense, German leadership had led to the stunning victory of Allenstein (later known by its more propagandistic name, the Battle of Tannenberg), then the complete retreat of all Russian troops from German soil. Certainly, losses were significant even in the major victories, and every new advance was proving difficult in the face of tenacious Russian defense, but with the fever of nearly-grasped victory so few weeks in the past, these were easy to overlook.


***

A New Plan

Following the dismissal of Moltke the Younger in the face of the failure of the final attempt to outflank French forces and seize an early victory over France, culminating in the order for German troops to withdraw in the immediate aftermath of the Battle on the Oise, the change in personnel - Erich von Falkenhayn becoming the new Chief of the German General Staff - was to be followed by a change in strategy. In the face of developments in France, which showed that major efforts would be required to break through French defenses and that well-dug-in German troops could withstand attacks by larger French forces, a decision was made to postpone further offensives until the front could be reinforced. The German advance had come at the cost of significant losses, especially among officers, which first needed replacing before any build-up of additional troops could take place. Further was the issue of logistics; problems of ammunition had arisen during the last stage of the Battle on the Oise, and while the Belgian railways were undamaged, those in France were in need of months of effort to be fully repaired, making the delivery of reinforcements and supplies a matter of significant effort. The conclusion was to use the time demanded by logistical concerns to repair the French railways, begin the stockpiling of ammunition needed to ensure sufficient supplies were available for later attacks and allow for the formations on the front to be replenished.

During this time, troops would be made available for attacks against Russia in the east, satisfying the requests of the rather suddenly well-known Paul von Hindenburg and his chief of staff, Erich Ludendorff. These attacks, made in conjunction with Austria-Hungary's forces, would spoil efforts by the Russians to begin their own offensive and push forwards until easily-defended positions were reached. Once the men in the east were dug in, the freed-up troops made available by the lesser demands of defense could be brought west again, utilizing the already-proven strength of the German railway system to rapidly move them from one front to the other. It was expected that the French, with much of their industry and population unavailable to them, could not match the results of a German rejuvenation during this "winter break", forcing them to either attempt further attacks with their depleted forces or rely on Russian attacks to redirect German forces to the east to give them further time to recover.

***

Morale Over Men
[Note: This is the secondary PoD, which is chronologically first but has a lesser total impact. Because of that and the more direct bridge between the Ulster Crisis and the Great European War, I waited until this one became relevant to get into it.]

By 1905, Conrad von Hötzendorf could already look back on a successful career. Various commands, and several years as an influential teacher at the k.u.k. War College, gave him great weight in the Austro-Hungarian military, combining with his reputation as an innovative commander to further enhance the influence his ideas had on the doctrine and individual decision-making of those serving as officers in the k.u.k. Army. Contributing greatly to the development of the local form of the 'cult of the offensive' that had taken root in militaries across Europe, his ideas blended together apparent concern for the material conditions of the units under his command with a readiness to plunge them into the attacks which were by the end of the Russo-Japanese War clearly going to be quite costly.

The answer to this apparent contradiction lay in a different view of what made up the fighting power of a military unit. Rather than viewing the individual men, and thereby the losses taken in an attack or other combat, as the source of its strength, von Hötzendorf placed that role on the morale of the group as a whole. A well-motivated smaller force could prevail against a larger, poorly-motivated one. Attacking allowed this difference in morale to be utilized to the fullest, finding its ultimate expression in the bayonet charge, an attack which demanded complete commitment and promised to scatter any enemy not equally willing to clash in the most direct, physical sense. From there his decisions as a commander arise; cantines offering proper meals to the men strengthen their morale, quartering officers together builds camaraderie, maneuvers outside the parade grounds ensured the men would be confident in the field. Attacks would keep the morale of the men high, making them something between a ends in of themselves and a sheer necessity for maintaining the fighting ability of the army.

It was in the years between 1905 and 1914 that, as von Hötzendorf rose yet further within the military hierarchy, he made critical changes to his theories. The morale of any formation remained the decisive factor, and the attack a critical component of bringing this advantage to bear against the enemy, but what could be considered a concession to the physical body of the army was made. New recruits would require significant effort to 'pull up' to the level of morale already instilled in the other troops, officers time to establish the connections needed to operate within the unit. And so, a heresy emerged in the cult of the offensive, growing especially significant in the face of the threat of war with Russia: the idea of limited defense. It was hardly a new one, in many ways it was simply the old Prussian doctrine of parry-and-riposte, utilizing robust rail networks to supply and move a force into position for attack against a bloodied enemy.

These new ideas would bloom rapidly in the face of a reorganized Austro-Hungarian mobilization, when Moltke the Younger informed his counterpart of German plans. Following several rapid attacks against the still-mobilizing Russian forces near Galicia, culminating in the near-capture of Lublin, Austro-Hungarian forces prepared for a defensive battle in expectation of a new offensive to come after the fall of France.
 
Very interested in seeing how france without the rail road bottle necks in Belgium and no British expeditionary force to help them managed to stop germany, especially since the map you posted earlier had a line that Germany could have gotten without either of the pods on display.gust better distions by the German army, as seen in @wiking maren without moltky time line.
 
Firstly, the requisite 'wow first X this decade' joke: Wow, haven't replied this decade, sorry that took so long!

Very interested in seeing how france without the rail road bottle necks in Belgium and no British expeditionary force to help them managed to stop germany, especially since the map you posted earlier had a line that Germany could have gotten without either of the pods on display.gust better distions by the German army, as seen in @wiking maren without moltky time line.
I'm not planning on going into that level of detail regarding late 1914 - it's a combination of factors, including the advanced warning the French had, the more extensive damage to infrastructure in some areas, the broader front for German forces and the shift of troops to the East before the fighting is actually decided.

What I'd also keep in mind is that the line on the map, as useful as it can be (and as much as I like to have them to keep my own thoughts organized and have visuals for what's going on) doesn't tell the whole story. The French Army is ending 1914 hollowed out in a similar way that Austria-Hungary's army was historically. They may have a better line than you might expect, and they can still put up a fight, but their ability to oppose the German Army beyond the winter is severely compromised.

Very nice .. on board intrested in seeing Italy and who joins what sides
1915 is a fun year for that! In the next update (which I'll post right after this, because I like cleanly separating things so Reader Mode is nice and pretty) a major component of Italy's future decisionmaking is going to be established.

Subscribed.

I do hope you'll include updates as to what's unfolding in Ireland.
You're in luck, as the next one involves just that!
 
Winter 1914/1915
The Alliance Dilemma

As the new year began, two armies gazed at one another from the trenches neither had expected to need to build. The hope for rapid victory had faded, but while the German forces were expanding the ever-growing field fortifications meant to allow smaller forces to repel any French offensive that might begin before reinforcements from the Eastern Front arrrived, the French were confronted with a two-headed dilemma. The first was the obvious fact that they were inside their borders almost everywhere along the front, with the Germans holding many of the more industrially developed cities and worsening the already-existant problem that France alone could not win a war of attrition against the German Empire's larger population and larger industry. Thus the second dilemma emerged: if France could not win alone, Russia would need to make the knockout blow in the East, while the French kept the German Army's main force bound in the West.

But the steamroller had already failed to start once, and the fall of Warsaw brought a nightmare scenario into the minds of the French leadership - if Russia sustained a string of such stinging defeats, without hope that the French Army could turn the tide or sufficiently weaken the pressure on Russian forces, they may simply cease fighting. Whether this worry played a role in the decision to begin what would be known alternatively as the "Battle of Poix" or "First Battle of Somme" is unclear, though the attacks were envisioned partly as a means to relieve pressure on Russia by forcing further German forces to be diverted to defense of their western gains. Instead, it served as a blood-soaked teacher, giving insight at the cost of deeply bleeding an already-weakened French Army which had already attempted insufficiently-supplied attacks in the previous months.

Russia faced a similar, if different, dilemma - while the ability of the Russian Empire to raise and equip a force able to decisively defeat or grind down its Austro-Hungarian and German foes was not questioned, the significant setbacks and heavy (if far more easily-absorbed, compared to France and even Germany) losses of the first months of war had led to the conclusion that even the great Russian steamroller could not expect quick or easy victory. This raised further worries - even without the pressure from the Tsar, a collapse of France had to be avoided, lest the entirety of the German Army be assembled in the East. Thus, even as it became clear that the Russian Army was not sufficiently equipped for a major offensive, attacks to relieve France were begun as word came that the Germans were once again shifting troops.

And so, as the cold began to ebb, spring saw all of the war's combatants battered by recent fighting, whether attacking or defending. For the moment, however, it was the German Empire which emerged from winter in the strongest position of the competing powers, with only a few small areas of Alsace-Lorraine under the control of enemy forces, its own industrial regions safe far from the fighting and its ports open for the many resources demanded by its war economy. What remained was the leveraging of this advantageous position.

***

The Channel Dilemma and the Irish Blockade

At the outbreak of the Great European War, France's northern and western coasts were at best weakly defended - a previous naval agreement with Britain, in 1912, meant that French naval forces were concentrated in the Mediterranean Sea. Once the fighting began, a dilemma centered on the English Channel arose. Some in Westminster had argued that the agreement, even non-binding as it was, gave an obligation to Britain to defend France, but entering a continental war just days after an armed uprising had taken place on the British Isles was far outside of what the government was willing to risk. Instead, based partly on proposals already made by high-level figures in the British Admiralty, a policy of neutralization would be undertaken, blocking off access to the Channel by warships of belligerent powers as part of a broader effort to decisively end the flow of new arms and ammunition into Ireland, especially Ulster. After a period of one to three months, the areas further from Britain's coast would be "opened". For the French, this meant an opportunity to move their fleet before their German counterparts could exploit the lack of protection of the northern coast, mixed with disappointment at the lack of further British support and hope that the measure would still draw them into the conflict on the French side. In Berlin, the news was received with less hope, but less disappointment as well. The phrase "Pause statt Dreizig", literally "Break/Rest instead of Thirty", describes the German response - it was seen as the cost of keeping Britain out of the war entirely, the 'Thirty' being a shortened reference to the 29 ("around thirty") dreadnoughts of the Royal Navy.

For Ireland, the Royal Navy patrols in the English Channel were generally at most a minor concern. Ulster was to be cut off entirely, blockaded by the Royal Navy and facing barricades on all land routes that might be used to bring supplies in from southern Ireland, which was itself affected by a less total but still significant reduction in imports, to primarily consist of searches for hidden weapons or ammunition. The blockade and decision to fortify land routes was envisioned as a means by which a potentially fatal test to the army and navy could be avoided: if orders to bombard or attack the Unionists of Ulster carried the risk of desertion, splintering forces and mutiny, they would simply be avoided. It was also a means to avoid large-scale fighting; even if the blockade carried its own costs, surely the leadership of the Ulster Volunteers would see the futility of holding an isolated, starving province and be moved to surrender. Even if the worst came to pass, and it would be necessary to "storm the Ulster fortress", as it was worded in one document, a period of blockade would both weaken the defenders and allow for the most reliable, carefully-screened British forces to be brought to bear.

This move was not popular in Ireland. Already stirred up by the events of July, the news that Westminster was responding to the uprising by effectively cordoning off Ulster seemed to many like little more than recognition of the rebellion as something almost legitimate. If the Irish had revolted for Home Rule, it was asked in many a gathering, surely the response would be far more heavy-handed than a blockade - and in such a scenario, surely the Unionists would not have to see their own ships checked for smuggled arms. The Bachelor's Walk massacre had already been taken by many as a sign that the rebellious Unionists were in higher regard than the Irish merely seeking to protect the rights granted to them by the United Kingdom's own laws; it could then come as no surprise that the Irish Volunteers prepared themselves to do more than wait in their homes or at best stand watch at a barricade at the border to Ulster. Especially not as word spread, whether resting on the reports of those who slipped through one of the inevitable holes in the Ulster Volunteers' patrols or on fictional accounts or embellished tales even today remains unclear, of firefights, murder and arson within Ulster. There were, after all, Catholics even in the north, whether in the countryside or living along the same streets as the recruits of the UVF; trusting those willing to rise up in armed rebellion to keep themselves from being part of a majority-Catholic region with Home Rule with their safety hardly seemed wise even if one put no stock in these specific claims.

If Ulster would fight, well - so would the Irish.
 
So Ireland as a whole is about to explode? No wonder London feels like steering clear of continental affairs for a while -their own backyard has caught fire and the usual fire brigades are of questionable utility. Sucks to be France and Russia right now.
 
Firstly, the requisite 'wow first X this decade' joke: Wow, haven't replied this decade, sorry that took so long!



I'm not planning on going into that level of detail regarding late 1914 - it's a combination of factors, including the advanced warning the French had, the more extensive damage to infrastructure in some areas, the broader front for German forces and the shift of troops to the East before the fighting is actually decided.

What I'd also keep in mind is that the line on the map, as useful as it can be (and as much as I like to have them to keep my own thoughts organized and have visuals for what's going on) doesn't tell the whole story. The French Army is ending 1914 hollowed out in a similar way that Austria-Hungary's army was historically. They may have a better line than you might expect, and they can still put up a fight, but their ability to oppose the German Army beyond the winter is severely compromised.



1915 is a fun year for that! In the next update (which I'll post right after this, because I like cleanly separating things so Reader Mode is nice and pretty) a major component of Italy's future decisionmaking is going to be established.



You're in luck, as the next one involves just that!
Well that would be odd since a big part of why the A-H army got so hollowed out was that officers dint have time to learn there soldiers language, something the french army didn't have to deal whith.
 
Instead, based partly on proposals already made by high-level figures in the British Admiralty, a policy of neutralization would be undertaken, blocking off access to the Channel by warships of belligerent powers as part of a broader effort to decisively end the flow of new arms and ammunition into Ireland, especially Ulster.
In these circumstances, I think this is exactly what Asquith (or any other likely British government) would do. They may not want to enter the war, but they also don't want the High Seas Fleet steaming into the Channel, either.

Grey and Churchill would sulk about it - they might even leave the cabinet over it - but this really is the high probability outcome.
 
So Ireland as a whole is about to explode? No wonder London feels like steering clear of continental affairs for a while -their own backyard has caught fire and the usual fire brigades are of questionable utility. Sucks to be France and Russia right now.
Pretty much; Ireland is on fire and everyone is heading for the hills because there's a stash of gunpowder in there that will blow everything to pieces once the fire reaches it, even if it hasn't quite done so yet.

Well that would be odd since a big part of why the A-H army got so hollowed out was that officers dint have time to learn there soldiers language, something the french army didn't have to deal whith.
Historically, Austria-Hungary's army was at around 55% of its regulation strength by the end of 1914. Their officers had, like those of the other powers involved, taken disproportionately high losses, creating further issues as the new officers were hastily-trained and unable to reach the same level of quality as those from peacetime. While the language issue absolutely played a part, if any of these armies had been bled for almost half of their total strength in a handful of months it would have weakened them in a lasting way. Even if your new officers can communicate with your troops, the fact that the quality of both are diminished will hurt - and that's before we get into other, material issues. Pretty much everyone found that they needed more artillery, more artillery shells, more machine guns, different uniforms, better helmets, more ammunition, more medical supplies, etc. after the opening months. It's a lot harder to implement ideas like "more heavy machine guns per corps" when you're still a few hundred heavy machine guns "in debt" and, even with that eventually resolved, are still only back at the insufficient pre-war level of firepower.

The French aren't suffering from all of the same issues as Austria-Hungary, but their situations are vaguely similar - an army gutted by losses that could recover but needs time to do that, which it won't get, and is going to be playing catch-up for the rest of the war.
 
Grey and Churchill would sulk about it - they might even leave the cabinet over it - but this really is the high probability outcome.
I don’t think Churchill would sulk, he'd see it as an opportunity to escalate the situation. Kind of the way Roosevelt used the escorts in the Atlantic in WWII.
 
Pretty much; Ireland is on fire and everyone is heading for the hills because there's a stash of gunpowder in there that will blow everything to pieces once the fire reaches it, even if it hasn't quite done so yet.



Historically, Austria-Hungary's army was at around 55% of its regulation strength by the end of 1914. Their officers had, like those of the other powers involved, taken disproportionately high losses, creating further issues as the new officers were hastily-trained and unable to reach the same level of quality as those from peacetime. While the language issue absolutely played a part, if any of these armies had been bled for almost half of their total strength in a handful of months it would have weakened them in a lasting way. Even if your new officers can communicate with your troops, the fact that the quality of both are diminished will hurt - and that's before we get into other, material issues. Pretty much everyone found that they needed more artillery, more artillery shells, more machine guns, different uniforms, better helmets, more ammunition, more medical supplies, etc. after the opening months. It's a lot harder to implement ideas like "more heavy machine guns per corps" when you're still a few hundred heavy machine guns "in debt" and, even with that eventually resolved, are still only back at the insufficient pre-war level of firepower.

The French aren't suffering from all of the same issues as Austria-Hungary, but their situations are vaguely similar - an army gutted by losses that could recover but needs time to do that, which it won't get, and is going to be playing catch-up for the rest of the war.
Well that was gust one issue, for another a-h army was still using the old March battalion system to git formations up to strength which couldn't keep whith there losses which France hant used in more then a decade.
Listen, I don't want to keep nagging, the pod is great and I really want this timeline to succeed but I do think a post about gust how france was able to stop germany is necessary, because gust saying it was hollowed out "like the A-H army" isn't really cutting it, the French and a-h army were such different bestes that this isn't helping explain anything especially since the only reason the a-h army wasn't beaten in 1914 was the carpathians and germany neither of which is applicable to france.
 
I don't see the situation in Ulster being resolved either with a Unionist victory or loss unless there is some sort of population exchange that was barely even considered IOTL. Democracy could never work after the two sides have gone to war, especially considering Catholics were nearly if not half the total population of Ulster at this time.
 
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