Joffre and the French Mission to the United States, 1917

Professor Charles T. Evans

Abstract: In May 1917, the French dispatched a high-level mission to the United States with the aim of developing a plan
for American intervention in the war. Joseph Joffre (1852-1931), former commander-in-chief of the French army, was a key member of that mission. The memorandum of understanding that he developed with the American military envisioned a multi-million man army deployed to and operating in France despite the reality of the minuscule size of the American army in 1917. Despite repeated efforts by French and British politicians to advocate for the insertion of American soldiers directly into French and British military units, Joffre continued to support the negotiated memorandum that an independent American army commanded by General John Pershing (1860-1948) and fighting alongside the French and British armies was the best and only way to bring the war to a successful end.