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the other divisions and subdivisions, in which we find, in one and all of them, that the genius of Evasion has taken to itself other devils such as Delay, Circumlocution, and Meanness, and that these malignant spirits are evoked at every turn so as to constantly obstruct the business of the Army, hamper general officers, and vez, irritate, and not unfrequently defraud, officers, non-commissioned officers, and men. Why, may not we ask, when Army Reform has become the question of the hour, have the apologists of the existing order of things nothing to say upon this most important phase of the subject ?

There are only two reasonable explanations for their silence : either they are so steeped in reverence for the comparative antiquity of the present War Office system, for its excessive clumsiness, costliness, and general • quaintness,' that they look on any proposals for reform as too impious for even preliminary contemplation (still less for discusgion); or else they know the system to be indefensible, but at the same time shrink from the trouble and responsibility that real reconstruction would entail.

Meanwhile a bold face has to be assumed, though naturally this cannot always be done with success, or indeed without occasional failure of the most egregious kind. In assuming everything to be satisfactory it would surely have been well, for instance, if attention had not been invited to the subject of Centralisation ;' and yet the work from which I have already quoted, the officially inspired Army Book for the British Empire, devotes four paragraphs of hardy assertion to the task of proving that the War Office system is not one of extreme centralisation. Such a system,' the authors gravely observe, would certainly break down under the first strain of actual war.' It certainly would; though merely to say that a certain system is bad, can hardly be accepted as a reason for believing that it does not exist. We are favoured in other passages with a few further proofs' as to whether centralisation is, or is not, one of the characteristics of the War Office system : 'A general commanding in a military district,' we are told, 'can move his troops, feed his troops, and do very much as he thinks right with them ... subject to his proceedings being called in question afterwards on a review at the War Office.' In another paragraph we read : The War Office necessarily exercises a general supervision, to prevent serious divergence of action taking place in different districts.' And the whole position is boldly summed up thus : “Troops are fully commanded by their own

Since this article was written, the newspapers have announced that a committee is sitting at the War Office to arrange for delegating to officers commanding the various Military Districts a larger amount of responsibility in matters of Military Administration. The news is satisfactory, as far as it goes, especially the substitution of the words 'to arrange for,' in place of the old War Office formula, 'to inquire into.' But the extent and sincerity of the proposed arrangement' still remain to

be seen.

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generals, who in their turn, . . for purposes of order and uniformity, are under the supervision of the War Office.' How far this process of review' and 'general supervision actually extends, and to what morbid lengths the passion for order and uniformity' is really carried, are matters which daily try the patience or exercise the mirth of officers and non-commissioned officers of almost every grade from the general who fully commands' his troops downwards. Sometimes the centre of centralisation is found even deeper down than the War Office, which then acts as the agent rather than the principal in the business of circumlocution and pedantry; and a general officer who has lately given up his command, speaking not long ago at the Royal United Service Institution, described an interesting case in point. A company-sergeant-major of Engineers, at Aldershot was recommended for promotion entailing an increase of sixpence to his daily pay. The recommendation went from the officer who first made it to the colonels-on-the-staff, the general officer commanding, the Quartermaster General, the Adjutant General, the Under Secretary for War, and the Secretary of State. Then it was lost sight of for three or four months, when a Treasury Clerk, happening to meet one of the colonels-on-the-staff at dinner, said to him: “The question of Sergeant-Major -, of the Engineers, came up the other day. Surely it is not necessary that he should have this extra rank and pay, is it?'

But the War Office can generally be trusted to carry on this sort. of official ‘hunt the slipper' without any assistance from other departments; and I can guarantee the accuracy of the following story: A recruiting sergeant, having for the moment used up all his railway warrants, bought an ordinary ticket for a recruit whom he had to send to the headquarters of the regiment for which he had enlisted. The fare paid by the sergeant was 68., which sum he recovered from the recruiting officer, who in turn obtained it from the paymaster of the district. But the supervision of the War Office' soon afterwards came into operation; and, a clerk having discovered that the soldier should have travelled at a reduced rate, the well-known

game that is played in such cases was at once commenced. The district paymaster was surcharged ls. 6d.; he surcharged the recruiting officer; and a correspondence was thereupon carried on for fully six months, when the sergeant—who would seem not to have entered into the proper spirit of the amusement thus provided for him-walked down to the office of the local station-master, explained the circumstances, and received 18. 6d.! More than that sum must in the meantime have been expended in stamps; while the number of memos' that must have been passed, and the number of times that various officials must have had the honour' to declare themselves each other's 'obedient servants,' was no doubt quite remarkable. The War Office apologist may say this was all

the fault of the sergeant; but admitting that to have been the case as regards the origin of this ridiculous transaction, where did the fault lie in its being impossible to rectify such a paltry mistake, either at once, or almost at once ?

To give one more concrete example of the unnecessary waste of time that War Office centralisation entails : A man serving in the Auxiliary Forces joined the Royal Navy, and the approving (Naval) officer omitted to report the circumstance to the man's former commanding officer. The latter had then to apply for a certain form for the captain of the man's ship to fill up. The application had to go, first, from the colonel of the man's old battalion, to the officer commanding the regimental district; secondly, from the officer commanding the regimental district, to the general officer commanding ; thirdly, from the general officer commanding, to the War Office; and, fourthly, from the War Office to the Admiralty. But the Admiralty, being more or less what may be called a * reformed corporation,' wrote direct to the captain of the ship, and he, being unrestrained by the rules of military etiquette, immediately sent the required document to the person who wanted it.

Many large books could easily be compiled from curiosities of a similar kind to the above. But perhaps my purpose—which was merely to furnish a little everyday illustration—has been served, and it may be accepted, not only that a most needless amount of correspondence goes to the War Office, but that the same evil process of centralisation in civilian hands is at present extended into every other channel of Army administration, with results at once unfair to the tax-payer, and incompatible with any sound modern ideas of what an efficient military system ought to be. The money which Parliament will soon be asked to vote will be very readily granted, if only evidence can at the same time be forthcoming that it will be expended so as to add to the real fighting strength of the nation ; but that money should not be granted at all, if it is only demanded in order to make a few incomplete experiments, while at the same time we timidly leave undisturbed a very costly, cumbrous, and thoroughly discredited system which is at the root of the whole evil with which we are professing to deal.



To put a million in the slot, and take out a dozen battalions, seems roughly the programme of the War Office, and tempered by the impregnable optimism of Sir Arthur Haliburton, and the wellmeaning generalities of Lord Lansdowne, this is practically what it all comes to.

The Secretary of State for War seems to think that by counting one-sixth of the reserve twice over (men in the reserve, but kept with the colours, will be two single gentlemen rolled into one), and shuffling the cards with four instead of two battalion regiments, we shall attain apotheosis, although to the unprejudiced outsider his plan resembles the Irishman's blanket, cut off at the top to lengthen the bottom.

Still, it is as well that the free kit and shilling a day' juggle should be ended, and that some definite attempt at finding work for men after leaving the colours should be promised, instead of the platonic aspirations in that direction, to which we are accustomed from successive representatives of the War Office; and on the whole his speech is an advance on the penultimate departmental pronouncement, the 'stable jacket and chin strap regulations,' the ‘slightly modified' short service, the more fully carried out' linked battalions, and the circular asking employers to take on old soldiers'; but after all, as Carlyle said of another matter, it is only singeing the outside of the rubbish-heap, and going no further.

Sir Arthur Haliburton, who represented the Civil Department of the War Office, is the champion of the existing order, and his letters to the Timesa sealed pattern of the official answers put into the mouths of Ministers, to stop inconvenient curiosity in the House of Commons-is a declaration that all is for the best in the best of all possible armies. And yet while he wrote, it was true that under such 'best, best' management up to October last not a man had been recruited for the two new battalions of guards, while of the 3,000 men voted for the garrison artillery last session, the Department had only got hold of 245 ; that of our recruits, thirty per cent. are specials (i.e. under five foot three and a half inches and less than thirty-two round the chest, under age and under size); that in the home battalions one has only 290 effectives and forty per cent. of specials among the recruits -I am, of course, speaking of war strength-and requires 700 men to complete; another wants 600, another 650; and after filling them up where is the reserve of which Sir Arthur Haliburton and Lord Wantage are so proud—that reserve which has been the one ewe lamb of successive representatives of the War Office in Parliament, and which, according to the answer given before the late Commission by Lord Wolseley, is 'somewhat of a sham !' As to the artillery, the public are aware of the fiasco in the spring, when twenty batteries were torn to pieces in order to send three out to the Cape, but what they are ignorant of is that the condition of the artillery is worse than that of the line at home. To start with, the proportion of guns to infantry is lower in the British army than in foreign forces, and they cannot be improvised. The army of the South East under Bourbaki in '71 failed because Gambetta and De Freycinet ignored this salient fact; and in our army we have some 200,000 auxiliaries with only one effective battery amongst them. Besides this a considerable number of the home batteries have been reduced to four guns, as they paraded at the Jubilee review with forty-two men and forty-eight horses—by the way, what has become of the sixty-eight horse artillery and 282 field battery guns promised by Lord Lansdowne at Salisbury, two years ago ?

As for the cavalry, we have 13,000 dragoons at home and only 3,000 horses, while the regiments are cut up and separated in a way fatal to efficiency.

What then should be done? Add more power, as Lord Wolseley says (i.e. money), and all will go well ? Vote for inefficiency, as a principle deserving of support, when applied to the British army, like Sir Wilfrid Lawson ? Accept the extremely clever speeches packed with platitudes and overflowing with optimism delivered yearly by the representative of the War Office, to a House composed of Mr. Speaker, the Serjeant at Arms, half a dozen Colonels,' and an empty press gallery ? Assimilate the ex-cathedra teaching and facts of old War Office officials? Cultivate faith, hope, and charity, and, voting fresh millions, believe that our military system will shape itself somehow, rough-hew it as we will ? Or will the War Office, taking the public into their confidence, make a clean breast of it, and go to the root of the matter, admitting that the days of patching and tinkering are past ?

Of course the business is not easy, as Mr. Brodrick said at Guildford; a volunteer army can't be run as cheap as a conscript. We are the only nation in the world relying on voluntary enlistment, said Lord Lansdowne at Edinburgh ; still conscription or the absence of it cannot carry all the weight put on its back by apologists of the present system. Do we really get a fair return for the 18,000,0001. spent on the home army alone? Is there no circumlocution at the War Office? Are there not an excessive number of commands entailing an expensive staff for a few hundreds of men (Mauritius for instance)? Could not officers retiring from the active army take their pension coupled with service in the militia ? And above all, as we obviously cannot improve the War Office out of existence, can we not change and alter root and branch the plan under which the Army is formed and recruited ?

We have three systems of recruiting—long, medium, and short service. Medium (seven years and five), on which practically fortynine men out of fifty serve, has proved a disastrous failure; short service (three years and nine) has been a success; long service, with the Navy and Royal Marines, is unquestionably efficient. Why not abandon the system which has failed, and adopt those which have produced what we want—having long-service battalions for India, the coaling stations and the colonies; short service and reserve for home; officers and men interchangeable, and both available for service in any part of the world ; and at the same time feed, clothe, and pay your recruit better, giving him also a chance of employment on

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