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Railroad

Detail from a map of southern Turkey, Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia from the Baedeker 1912 travel guide 'Palestine and Syria with Routes through Mesopotamia and Babylonia and with the Island of Cyprus'. The detail is of Mesopotamia from Baghdad to Basra and the Persian Gulf and the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

Detail from a map of southern Turkey, Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia from the Baedeker 1912 travel guide 'Palestine and Syria with Routes through Mesopotamia and Babylonia and with the Island of Cyprus'. The detail is of Mesopotamia from Baghdad to Basra and the Persian Gulf and the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

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Railroads were critical to moving the enormous numbers of men and quantities of materiel required by the war. They gave nations the ability to transport large numbers of troops quickly, from one part of the front to another or from one front to another.

In mobilizing its forces for war, military uses took priority. Railroad schedules were fixed, and changes in mobilization and troop transport were difficult. Railroads and their schedules played a significant role in war planing, and changes were highly disruptive.

In August 1914, Austria-Hungary's Second Army was positioned between Russia and Serbia, for movement to either front. Austria-Hungary first deployed the army to invade Serbia, but Germany requested a more aggressive attack on Russia. To redeploy the Second Army to the East, it first had to complete its journey to Serbia, then reverse direction to the Russian Front. Delayed in its arrival, the army was still getting into position when it was overwhelmed in the Battles of Gnila Lipa and Rava Russka.

In losing these Galician battles in 1914, Austro-Hungarian Commander in Chief Conrad von Hötzendorf lost great stores of supplies and rolling stock, losses Austria-Hungary could not replace.

Railroads made the rapid movement of troops possible and reduced the likelihood of breakthroughs as defensive forces could be rapidly redeployed. Railroads played critical parts in the redeployment of French troops from the French right wing to the left before the 1914 Battle of the Marne and in Italy's rapid redeployment of troops from the Trentino to the Isonzo for the Sixth Battle of the Isonzo.

In 1918, Ferdinand Foch, Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies in France, viewed freeing the rail lines from Paris to Amiens, Nancy, and Verdun as keys to victory.

Railroad is an other technology.