A relatively little known fact from the history of the Second World War is that the French army actually had more, and better, tanks at the outbreak of hostilities in 1940 than the Wehrmacht.
So how did things go so disastrously wrong?
France’s generals planned for the last war rather than the next battle. They arranged their forces to deal with 1914 all over again.
German blitzkrieg tactics were nothing like what was expected – they blithely swarmed around blocking obstacles placed in their way.
France’s best military resources could offer no effective resistance, despite being enviably strong on paper and, apparently, shrewdly deployed. Poor communication and coordination with their British and Belgian allies exacerbated the problems.
It was all over in six weeks.
Watching this week’s government reshuffle pan out brings some of the same questions to mind.
Many of the junior ministerial promotions (and demotions) seem to be aimed at tamping down potential Sinn Fein breakthroughs.
In the short term this has annoyed Irish language speakers unhappy with the new Gaeltacht minister, Joe McHugh, and given rise to some internal grumbling in Fine Gael over a perceived failure to promote more female ministers.
The question now is how well will this defensive redeployment work? Will a ministerial Maginot Line stem the Sinn Fein tide?
Or come the next election, will it transpire that the Coalition’s political strategists have planned for the last election?
And all be for naught?