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Ferdinand Foch quotes

1851 - 1929, French soldier and military theorist

In whatever position you find yourself, determine first your objective.
Ferdinand Foch

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.
Ferdinand Foch

None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear.
Ferdinand Foch

The will to conquer is the first condition of victory.
Ferdinand Foch

My centre is giving way, my right is in retreat, situation excellent. I attack.
Ferdinand Foch

The power to command has never meant the power to remain mysterious.
Ferdinand Foch

Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.
Ferdinand Foch

A war not only arises, but derives its nature, from the political ideas, the moral sentiments,
and the international relations obtaining at the moment when it breaks out.
Ferdinand Foch

One does simply what one can in order to apply what one knows.
Ferdinand Foch

This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.
Ferdinand Foch, said after the Treaty of Versailles of 1919

In a time such as ours when people believe they can do without an ideal, cast away what
they call abstract ideas, live on realism, rationalism, positivism, reduce everything to
knowledge or to the use of more or less ingenious and casual devices - let us acknowledge it
here - in such a time there is only one means of avoiding error, crime, disaster, of determining
the conduct to be followed on a given occasion - but a safe means it is, and a fruitful one;
this is the exclusive devotion to two abstract notions in the field of ethics: Duty and
discipline.
Ferdinand Foch

Every manoeuvre must be the development of a scheme; it must aim at a goal.
Ferdinand Foch

To be disciplined does not mean being silent, abstaining, or doing only what one thinks one
may undertake without risk; it is not the art of eluding responsibility; it means acting in
compliance with orders received, and therefore finding in one's own mind, by effort and
reflection, the possibility to carry out such orders. It also means finding in one's own will the
energy to face the risks involved in execution.
Ferdinand Foch

In tactics, action is the governing rule of war.
Ferdinand Foch

An army is to a chief what a sword is to a soldier. It is only worth anything in so far as it
receives from him a certain impulsion.
Ferdinand Foch

There is but one means to extenuate the effects of enemy fire: it is to develop a more violent
fire oneself.
Ferdinand Foch

The distribution of troops devoted to the defence of a place includes a garrison, an occupying
force, numerically as weak as possible; a reserve as strong as possible, designed for
counterattacking and for providing itself, at the moment it goes into action, with a security
service which will guard it from any possible surprise.
Ferdinand Foch

The laurels of victory are at the point of the enemy bayonets. They must be plucked there;
they must be carried by a hand-to-hand fight if one really means to conquer.
Ferdinand Foch

A war not only arises, but derives its nature, from the political ideas, the moral sentiments,
and the international relations obtaining at the moment when it breaks out. This amounts to
saying: try and know why and with the help of what you are going to act; then you will find
out how to act.
Ferdinand Foch

In war there are none but particular cases; everything has there an individual nature; nothing
ever repeats itself. In the first place, the data of a military problem are but seldom certain;
they are never final. Everything is in a constant state of change and reshaping.
Ferdinand Foch

Against what should fire be opened? Against the obstacles which may delay the march of
infantry. The first obstacle is the enemy gun. It will be the first objective assigned to artillery
masses.
Ferdinand Foch

The unknown is the governing condition of war.
Ferdinand Foch

The military art is not an accomplishment, an art for dilettante, a sport. You do not make
war without reason, without an object, as you would give yourself up to music, painting,
hunting, lawn tennis, where there is no great harm done whether you stop altogether or go
on, whether you do little or much. Everything in war is linked together, is mutually
interdependent, mutually interpenetrating. When you are at war you have no power to act at
random.
Ferdinand Foch

Men called to the conduct of troops should prepare themselves to deal with cases more and
more varied upon an ever-increasing horizon of experience. They can only be given the
capacity to arrive at a prompt and judicious position by developing in them through study
their power of analysis and of synthesis; that is, of conclusion in a purely objective sense,
conclusion upon problems which have been actually lived and taken from real history. Thus
also can they be founded through the conviction that comes from knowledge in a confidence
sufficient to enable them to take such decisions upon the field of action.
Ferdinand Foch

Victory is a thing of the will.
Ferdinand Foch