The World In Flames
Le Bourget field
10 January 1909
Transcript of Guest Lecturer Senior Vice-Admiral de Volée Jean Paul Martel
Good day to you all. Please be seated.
It is a distinct pleasure to be here at the École d’Avion. My goal today is to provide you with my perspective on where we might use our Gany forces in conflicts around the world. Since our illustrious government invented the Ganymede and ushered in this new era of technology upon the world, we have sought to leverage this technology to position France where she belongs—as the most enlightened of the industrialized countries.
But our world is not always a safe place. Our old enemies seek to control this same technology to advance their own, darker causes around the globe. Today more than ever, an understanding of the larger world will help you as officers when you face the Germans, the British or any other foe across the bows of your ships. Knowing your enemy and grasping the nuances of how conflict begins are critical to comprehending the nature of the next war.
Professor Merede has asked me to summarize for you the current global situation and the potential hot spots where wars might begin. This is no small task, and I caution you that the information I provide to you today must needs be superficial—an educated guess, at best, though one based on historical analysis and current political maneuverings. Plainly, said, our fleet patrols the globe, and war could break out anywhere at any time. My comments today can cover only those areas in which I see the greatest potential for conflict.
The English Channel remains a brewing cauldron. Attempts by the British Prime Minister to declare the air above the channel the property of England has accomplished nothing except to escalate the tensions there. The daring men and boys of the Cigognes Squadron stand on the front line of this English aggression.
Likewise the German border represents an area to be watched. Our Prussian neighbors have demonstrated their willingness to challenge our borders there in the past; based on that history, our planners already are prepared to use a Gany fleet to assist in supporting a ground-based offensive.
Despite these potential aggressions, I do not see Europe as where the flames of our next war will ignite. I believe our mettle will be tested in the south, in Africa. The Suez, for example, is a strategic thorn in our side. Though we rule the skies, most goods are moved by water and the canal is an asset that we cannot allow to remain under control of the British crown.
As taught by the Fashoda Incident, our strategists believe that early control of the heart of Africa will be crucial in the next conflict. Unfortunately, no one understands this better than our British neighbors, and they seek to upset the stalemate that currently exists in Africa. Mark my words, whoever controls central Africa will control all of Africa.
The air over the Mediterranean is going to be dark with the storm of war when the fighting starts. There are many wet-navy assets there that will rely on Ganys to protect them when war begins. The Italians have their eyes on northern Africa, and the Austro-Hungarian forces have their eyes on us and the Italians. The École d’Avion will bear the brunt of the fighting, be assured of that. Success in Africa will rely heavily on our determination and prowess in the Mediterranean.
The German toehold in the Far East is disturbing. Any war in the Pacific will be a war for control of the vital coaling stations, for control of the coal will support a fleet, and lack of control will constrict it. The port in China, Tsingtao, will be critical for German operations, and as such is also important to us.
This leads me to discuss Japan and Russia. Both have their eyes on the Pacific, but that pond is a large and deep one. The Japanese have never forgiven the sting of their losses to the Russian Ganys and will seek a decisive strike against their old foes. The Japanese are meticulous planners and show remarkable ingenuity; given the ability of Gany forces to penetrate across traditionally impassable borders, Russia needs to pay close attention to this old enemy.
Likewise, the British rely heavily on relations with Australia for their fleet operations out of India. The change of political climate there forces the British to depend more on the use of neutral ports such as those in South America at Valparaiso—but I say that neutrality is a warm blanket to delude the masses on cold nights.
Indochina’s facilities are strategically important to us in the Pacific, because our control of those ports puts the British Ganys operating out of India at risk. Indochina holds them in check, gives them pause to wonder. They certainly will seek to neutralize that threat if war breaks out. Should they be foolish enough to try, they will find we have a few surprises in store for them.
I encourage you all to spend time studying fleet ranges, Gany fuel consumption, and all other aspects of fleet operations and supply lines. This knowledge, combined with an accurate map of the world, will quickly tell you what facilities may suddenly become strategically important in the time of war.
The Americans—well, they remain something of a joker in the deck. They have a powerful air fleet, but who will they side with? Us? The British? Perhaps the Japanese? For now, they seem content to play with their Ganys and conduct scientific experiments in search of new weapons. But the Americans may very well tip the scales in an upcoming conflict, so we must watch them carefully. While they brandish their neutrality like a shiny shield, they also have proven to be opportunistic, an often deadly combination.
Thank you for your time and attention. I will now open the floor to your questions.