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5,000 Tanks: The Allies' World War I Plan 1919 Might Have Been the First Blitzkrieg in History

Does Plan 1919 have relevance today? Smart bombs and cyberwarfare are the modern equivalents of Fuller's tanks, a means to knock out an opponent's ability to control his forces. And yet so often, from the “body counts” of Vietnam to Russian bombing raids on ISIS in Syria, strategy still seems focused on attrition. Rather than outmaneuvering the enemy, we hope to compel his surrender by simply killing him faster than he can replenish himself.

The great irony, of course, is that Plan 1919 did see the light of day. Except that it was the Germans who implemented it. Other nations, such as the French in 1940, decided that tanks were best used dispersed in small packets to support the infantry. It was  Hitler's panzer divisions that ruptured the French and Russian lines before plunging deep into the enemy's rear.

And, in fact, it turns out that Heinz Guderian, the mastermind behind Hitler's blitzkrieg, had read Fuller's work after the war. The British Army might not have appreciated Fuller's insight. Unfortunately, the German Army did.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Image: British Mk IV tank in World War I. Wikimedia Commons/Public domain