Hier die entscheidende Reihenfolge, und das maßgebliche Diktum der britischen Politik, dass ein Beistand in der Entente nur realistisch ist, wenn Frankreich nicht Urheber der Verletzung belgischer Neutralität sei. Shortly after becoming Chief of the General Staff and Vice President of the Superior Council of War, Joffre reconsidered French strategy. Dismissing Michel's concept for defending along the entire Belgian frontier but remaining attentive to the likelihood of the Germans advancing through Belgium, he modified Plan XVI to cover more of the frontier. To increase the number of divisions immediately available, a prerequisite for covering a longer front, he shifted forces from the second line and the Italian border. In his memoirs, Joffre claimed to have increased the number of divisions available immediately from thirty-eight tofifty-eight.He then arranged to shift Fifth Army farther to the left, as far west as Mézières, and push Sixth Army eloser to Verdun and the Belgian frontier west of Luxembourg. These changes placed two French armies (seven corps) near the Belgian border and provided some protection against the possibility of the Germans' attempting to envelop the French flank by driving around Verdun or as deep as Sedan or Mézières. Joffre also placed greater emphasis on an immediate offensive; he intended to attack as soon as possible. He published the new variation of Plan XVI on 6 September, only six weeks after becoming Chief of the General Staff." During the next several months, Joffre continued to contemplate the possibility of a German advance into Belgium. After carefully considering French and German alternatives, he sought permission in a meeting of the Superior Council of National Defense in January 1912 to advance into Belgium at the first news of a German attack.'- Composed of the President of the Republic, President of the Council of Ministers (Premier), Minister of War, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chief of the General Staff, the Superior Council was not a decision-making body, but the Premier, Joseph Caillaux, made it clear that French forces could not enter Belgium until after the Germans had violated its neutrality. Diese letzte Vorgabe war bekanntlich - leider Ferguson nicht bekannt - Resultat der britischen Positionierung. Doughty, French Strategy in 1914: Joffre's Own, in JoMH 2003, S. 427 ff.