For both French and British government leaders, taking the offensive was a necessity. In neither country could leaders permit the war to drag on endlessly without making an energetic effort to bring it to a victorious conclusion. For French leaders in particular, it was unthinkable to permit a hated enemy to occupy undisturbed and unchallenged the valuable and highly populated regions of northeastern France. There was, as yet, no unified command. Government leaders met periodically to decide matters of high strategy. The military commanders, notably Haig and Joffre, likewise heldconferences to reach agreement on what to do next. Desperate government leaders made their decisions with confident military commanders at their sides. Frederick II of Prussia and Napoleon had combined the roles of political leader and military commander. But the prime ministers and most of the war ministers of the early twentieth century had no choice, it seemed, but to take the advice of their experts. Nor did the public, since military leaders were quick to cite their special expertise. Douglas Haig's instrucfions to his staff prior to the Battle of the Somme on dealing with the press put such thinking in a nutshell. "Military history teems with instances where sound military principles have had to be abandoned owing to the pressure of ill-informed public opinion." And so "the nation must be prepared to see heavy casualty lists for what may appear to the uninitiated to be insufficient object." Sometimes the plight of an ally made the offensive imperative. Russia's grim condition after its retreat in summer 1915 and the failure of Joffre's assaults at Artois and Champagne pushed British war minister Horatio Kitchener to call for a British attack in France. Showing solidarity with its allies cost the British 60,000 casualties at the Battle of Loos in late September and early October.