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The territorial gain made by the Allies is in itself no factor. The row of villages, woods, and road intersections taken by them can be valued from a strategical standpoint only if these points are serviceable to the attackers in the realization of their basic offensive idea. But not even the artillery preparation of these
main blows" has fulfilled its mission, namely, to wipe out the hostile infantry in its trenches or reserve positions and to destroy its supplies and communications behind the front.
For every position that the Germans give up on their front a new one is built behind the front; that is to say, a new
front is established. This means that the cohesion of the defense has been nowhere broken. And as long as the front holds, no matter whether it is taken one or two kilometers forward or backward-as long as it holds, the defensive, not the offensive, is successful.
What are kilometers in the face of the basic idea of a general offensive which means to carry the victory over tremendous fronts and areas? Not even the line Bapaume-Combles-Peronne, geographically and strategically the immediate objective of the “grand offensive," have the attackers been able to take in two months and a half!
[AMERICAN View] The Month's Military Developments From August 15 to September 15, 1916
By J. B. W. Gardiner
[See Map of Balkans on Page 33]
AST month brought about in several
of the war theatres a situation which promises more interesting
results than anything which has happened in Europe during the current year. The most important of these was the entrance of Rumania as one of the Entente Powers. This action was not entirely unexpected. Despite her recent commercial treaties with the Central Powers, it was generally felt that Rumania would sooner
or later line up squarely with the Entente. tion was definitely settled when Italy declared war against Germany.
This was purely a technicality. A state of war between Italy and Germany had actually existed for some time, but, for commercial and diplomatic reasons, the formal declaration
avoided. Italy's hand was in a measure forced by her own participation in the campaign at Saloniki. Sooner or later the Italian forces on this front would of necessity have come into conflict with the German troops, and then to have
maintained a semblance of peace would have been a farce. But Italy's action, while in itself it meant nothing in a military way and added not at all to the difficulties of the Central Powers, did cause Rumania to make a decision.
In such a cataclysm as that now tearing Europe, the smaller nations, if they wish to take sides, must, in order to avoid being swallowed up, choose the side which will eventually win. This was just as true the day Bulgaria declared war as it is today. But Bulgaria was too greedy to wait, she did not have sufficient information, the war had not reached a point where mature judgment was possible. Rumania is in a much more fortunate position. For two years she sat still, friends with all of her turbulent neighbors, studying, analyzing, weighing chances and probabilities. Her decision was made as a result of the most sober judgment, the most exhausting consideration, with the envoys of both parties constantly on the field, filling her ears with tales of the present and
promises of the future. If, then, Rumania decided to join the Allies, it was only because she was convinced that the Teutonic Powers were on the decline and that the laurel wreath of victory was eventually to be placed on the banners of the Entente.
Rumania's Importance From a military standpoint, the entrance of Rumania into the war carries with it an importance which cannot well be discounted. Those powers which are adversely affected may, for the purposes of home consumption, declare that the situation has not been altered, and that Rumania will soon be crushed under the iron heel and take her place beside Belgium and Serbia. But this view will not stand the light of reason.
The fact is that Rumania has injected into the war at a critical period, and at a critical point geographically, the gravest menace which the Teutonic allies have yet had to face.
The first of these has to do with numbers. Rumania has had the conscript system-compulsory military service where every one must serve and did serve. Under pressure of abnormal recruiting, Rumania could put into the field nearly a million men. Under ordinary methods this would be reduced to about 750,000. She had enrolled, equipped, and mobilized at the time she declared war about 600,000. She brings this force into the war with its proper proportion of officers and non-commissioned officers entire, untouched by casualties. She brings it in at a time when her enemies have lost a considerable proportion of their effectives. She brings them into a field where their presence will be most strongly felt. And more, she has extended the front which the Central Powers must defend by something like 900 miles.
The logical answer to this increase caused by Rumania would be, as von Falkenhayn is said to have advocated, to shorten the lines at some other point. But where? On the Russian front it is im possible without retiring to Warsaw, abandoning all conquests in Russia, abandoning Galicia and the Carpathians, and risking a serious invasion into Hungary and the defeat of a necessary ally.
This is, of course, out of the question. The only front where a shortening is possible is in France, and here, for political reasons, Germany does not dare retire.
Campaign in Transylvania Striking at the weakest link of the Central Powers, Rumania moved at the Rumanian “irredenta” -- Transylvania—and almost without opposition took possession of the passes which lead from Rumania into Hungary. Her advance since the passes fell into her possession is noteworthy, and indicates that the Austrians, as they have claimed, decided not to offer any material defense of Transylvania on account of the great length of line involved, due to the peculiar way in which Transylvania juts eastward into Rumania. This line could be reduced many miles by retiring before the Rumanian Army, permitting it to draw a chord across Transylvania, connecting the two tips of the arc formed by the Rumanian boundary. This chord generally follows the line of the Maros Valley. It is still some distance west of the Rumanian line, for, although the Austrian defense has been perfunctory, it has nevertheless retarded the advance.
This move by Rumania will have two objects. The occupation of Transylvania is one, and will popularize the war among those sections of the Rumanian population which may still be averse to it. On the other hand, it must be remembered that the Russians are just north of the Carpathians and are struggling for possession of the passes which lead across to the plains of Hungary. Before these plains are reached, however, from Southern Bukowina, the maze of mountains which constitute Transylvania must be crossed.
The Russian fighting has resulted in the flattening out of the Austrian right wing against the wall of the Carpathians, while their centre is battling desperately along the Dniester River in defense of Lemberg.
Teutons in the Dobrudja In answer to the Rumanian attacks on their western frontier, the Teutonic allies have begun an offensive against the
southern border of the Rumanian province of Dobrudja. The Danube River is, for the greater part, the southern boundary of Rumania, separating it from Bulgaria. Where Dobrudja begins, however, the Danube turns north on its way to the Black Sea. This leaves a part of the southern Rumanian frontier entirely
open to attack. It is all open country, and to hold it against a large body of troops on the scale on which the greater part of the French front is held would require a force of about 200,000 men. Rumania had no such force available for this purpose while she was, engaged in the fighting in the west. This, there
Left to Right: General Joffre, President Poincare, King George of England, General Foch, and
- General Sir Douglas Haig. (Photo from Central News Company.)