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Britain and the United States are the two remaining countries in all the world which have clung to the voluntary system of enlistment, because, setting the individual above the State, the individual has been clever enough to avoid the discomfort, the loss of time, and the interference with his pleasure and business which universal military service demands. As Rudyard Kipling said, we expect to raise armies “by the same methods we raise money at a charity bazaar. We profess to believe that in the hour of danger there will always be enough men ready, of their own free will, to defend the country.” The voluntary system, however comfortable to the millions, is enormously expensive, unfair, clumsy, unreliable, and generally unsatisfactory. Drafting by lot in times of stress is only a palliative, as shown by the disgraceful draft riots during the Civil War.
However, we all get, in the end, what we deserve, and, when the final reckoning is paid in the war now going on in the world, we may even be able to estimate accurately the relative cost of being, say 100 per cent. ready for war as compared with 30 per cent.; and we may even find ourselves, somehow, helping to pay the piper. Whatever legitimate differences of opinion, therefore, we may have as to our national policies as a world power, it would seem to be best, instead of discussing the subject of the maintenance of the fleet on the high plane of patriotic or civic duty, to apply the acid test of business or what pays best in the end.
ON THE PACIFIC.
In the first place, geography has placed a large ocean either side of us, between us and our powerful neighbors. Looking across the Atlantic, we have always accepted a defensive role and talked, and thought and built to repel an enemy if he should come. This habit of thought, of waiting for something, of holding back, of expecting things to come to us, has almost destroyed our initiative, has kept back our foreign trade, and almost driven our flag from the ocean. We have reasoned that our fleet would give us time to bring up our supposed reserves and enable us to raise an army of volunteers. Facing this comfortable solution, we have turned our back upon the Pacific.
Geography, acquisitiveness or destiny has presented us in the Pacific with Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, Tutuila (Samoa), Midway Island, and Guam, as stepping stones across the Pacific, and by their possession imposed upon us the same policy as if they were actually in the hand of an enemy or rival, because they exist and cannot be sunk. If we fail to make the right use of them geography will turn them against us, just as it turned them away from others and to us. The Pacific permits to us no defensive policy such as we have softened ourselves to in the Atlantic. Our coast line extends to Guam, even if we should scuttle in the Philippines. We can wiggle and squirm and make a wry face over paying the bill, but we can never evade ultimately the cost of adequately fortifying a naval base in the island of Guam, and in a lesser degree in the island of Tutuila, in the Archipelago of Alaska and on Midway Island, just as we have already begun the good work in the Hawaiian
SUPPLYING THE FLEET
Islands and at Balboa at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal, the reason being, if there were no other, to prevent their being used against us as commercial supply stations or naval bases by an enterprising rival or enemy. Besides, it will pay us to
COAL AND SUPPLIES.
In time of war the high speeds required in scouting and protecting would increase enormously the demand for fuel, and the 10 knots speed for the fleet shows how narrow is the margin, as it gives the very minimum, easily increased by leaps and bounds under stress of weather or war operations. It is estimated that probably 200,000 tons of coal' a month would be required along this route in time of war. Two things stand out clearly in this problem, viz., the necessity for adopting the system of towing and coaling at sea and the need of replacing our colliers, supply ships and cruisers with newer, larger and faster ones. These colliers, repair and supply ships, fitted with 5-inch and 6-inch guns and officered and manned by regular officers and men, should be able to give a good account of themselves in time of danger and would not need the sheltering and shepherding that must be given to a heterogeneous lot of chartered and irresponsible craft, none too reliable under the most favorable circumstances. This leads up to the question of either purchasing additional colliers and supply ships, or building them, as we cannot rely on chartering because we will need all the available merchant ships for other purposes, viz., our expanding foreign trade, and maintaining what we have. A purchased ship will require at least two months to overhaul and adapt her to government requirements. During the War with Spain we purchased colliers having a gross tonnage of 42,500 tons at a cost of $76 per gross ton. Economy and serviceability point to the entire desirability of building ships for the special service required. We have worked out and know every detail of what we want as colliers, oilers, refrigerator, repair, transport, water tank, ammunition, and hospital ships, torpedo-boat destroyers and submarine tenders, mine layers, mine sweepers, merchant scouts, aeroplane transports, tugs, coal lighters and buoy tenders.
In supplies are included reserve ammunition, medical stores, fresh and dry provisions, clothing, equipment, fresh water, “canteen” stores, both afloat in supply ships and at the naval bases. Fuel means the ability to deliver the blow without delay. Delay means the loss of the initiative. Operations can only be based on available means and, in modern war, you cannot plan and then assemble stores to execute the plan. After war is declared it becomes a question of supplies and weapons at the front, or else falling back on the defensive and trying to gather from every source the supplies needed even for the defensive. With fortified island bases each would become a stepping stone to the next, and a centre from which to sally forth, attack and harass, and to which to return for supplies, rest and overhaul. Our real coast line would become, as it were, more remote from our enemy as these obstacles in his path hindered his free movements and, on the other hand, these
island bases would have the effect of extending our coast line out into the ocean for our own forces. As sources of supply they are as valuable to the enemy as to us, unless we fortify them adequately and defend them with submarines, torpedo boats and mine devices.
DEFENCE OF OUR POSSESSIONS.
No one can trouble the fishing industries and rich coal fields in our storehouse of the future in Alaska if there is a fortified base in the Aleutian Archipelago. Tutuila, 5,700 miles from Panama, 2,276 from Honolulu, 3,159 from Guam, and 4,500 from Manila, is only 1,565 miles from Auckland and 2,377 from Sydney, with their supplies of fresh provisions and coal. The Panama Canal has made its beautiful land-locked harbor a priceless heritage in our manifest destiny in the Pacific. Midway Island, at present an indispensable cable relay station, 1,150 miles beyond Honolulu, near the route to Guam, has a harbor with a bar good for seventeen feet draught now, and which the cost of one cruiser would convert into an auxiliary fortified and equipped island base. Many visits, in connection with constructive work and planning, have made its every feature familiar and of deep interest to me, and I look forward to the time when wise foresight will guard this vulnerable outpost in the ocean on which our future lies.
(Sea Power, II, March, 1917.)
(3) ($305] Necessity for a Defense Commission with Gen.
eral Staffs for the Army and the Navy.
BY CHARLES G. CURTIS.
It is apparent to those who have followed the course of recent events that our system of government is virtually a failure in many ways, and is quite unable to provide us with either an army or a navy capable of doing its part in defending the country. It cannot even provide the essentials for reasonable fighting efficiency, our navy, for example, having no battle cruisers, scouts, aeroplanes or useful submarines, and our army having practically no modern guns, shops for their rapid manufacture, aeroplanes or ammunition supplies.
IGNORE EXPERT OPINION.
Congress fails as a law-making body, not only because its members are not trained experts and refuse to be guided by those who are, but also because it often permits political influences to overshadow the National welfare, and because there is no expert body with duties defined by laws equipped to advise in the decision of these important questions. Such an expe.. body has frequently been suggested—under the name “Councf of Defense” or “Defense Commission.” The Secretary of tr Navy fails as an executive, because he is a civilian and nr an expert; his views and acts
are frequently controlled še polítics, and he has no official advisers whose opinions he val,of sufficiently to follow. Even the President, from whom nd, would expect better things, generally disregard the advisxian
our best military and naval experts, and devotes much of his time and thought to political matters instead of giving it all to the business of the country.
When our forefathers founded the present system of government, they could hardly have foreseen the very general contempt for all expert knowledge and experience, which has been one of the results of our National self-confidence and lack of training. If Democracy is to survive, some way must be found of changing this attitude on the part of the people.
Experience shows that our admirals and bureau chiefs, who really know what the navy needs, are powerless to impress their views upon Congress or upon the President. This is largely because they are not charged by law or by custom with the duty, either individually or as an official body, and the practice of the secretary has generally been to discourage criticisms or advice not in line with his own views. The bureau chiefs are recognized only as individual heads of the various branches of naval administration. There is no way of ascertaining their collective professional solutions of technical problems. These individual views are presented piecemeal to a non-professional secretary, who has to decide which are right. In short, the bureau chiefs do not embody the combined duties, responsibilities and powers of a general staff.
NEED OF AN EXPERT COUNCIL.
Unlike other nations, we have in the laws governing our naval organization no provision for either a defense commission or a general staff, the one charged with the study of problems of the State and of military and naval questions as presented by experts, and the other charged with the duty and responsibilities of preparing the feet for war and clothed with full authority to direct its operations.
Practically speaking, the secretary of the navy is the only functionary who is supposed to advise Congress or the President in these important matters; but, since he has no technical qualifications and is a political appointee, it is logically unsafe to leave our naval development to his direction. Certainly the practical experience of the late decade or two shows this to be the case.
It is evident that our Government needs an official body of experts to study the problem continually, to watch developments here and abroad, and to take the initiative in advising the President and Congress what steps should be taken to give us an army and a navy adequate for the defense of the country and efficiently managed. Such a body would operate as national council or commission. In both our Army and Navy Departments we should also have—what other nations havea general staff controlled by a chief. This chief of staff should be the executive military head for preparing and directing the naval or the military forces. The chief of the naval general staff should be directly charged by law with the duty of advising the secretary, and through him the President and Congress, what ships and other fighting machines should be built and how they should be managed and operated. He should also consult
de sto fo
with and report directly to the defense commission. Finally, he should be explicitly charged with authority and responsibility -authority to direct the operations of the feet, and responsibility for its readiness for the purposes for which it is created.
The necessity for a general staff in our navy, and also for a recognized body of experts or defense commission to formulate naval and military policies and to advise Congress is very evident when we consider the extraordinary things which have happened in our navy during the last few years. The following are some of them, though many others might be cited:
IGNORANCE OF CONGRESSMEN.
The ignorance often shown by committees of Congress and their inability to get at the truth in technical matters, is well shown by the questions asked of Admiral Fletcher, when he appeared before the House Committee on Naval Affairs, in December, 1914.
"Mr. Witherspoon: Now, according to the Navy Year Book, Germany had battleships building and authorized—39. Would you say that if she could send all those ships against us we would not be able to resist them?”.
“Admiral Fletcher: I should say that we ought to, if we have the greater force.”
"Mr. Witherspoon: Now it has been stated to us that if Germany were at war with us she could not afford either to send more than one-half her ships against us.”
"Admiral Fletcher: That I do not know.”
“Mr. Witherspoon: I am not asking you whether you do or not. Assuming that she could send only one-half' her 39, would you not say that we could successfully resist that number?”
"Admiral Fletcher: Yes, sir. I would say so if all our force is available to meet her."
The ignorance here shown is appalling. Not a single member of the committee seemed to know that the forty United States battleships referred to in the Naval Register included a large majority so antiquated or so inferior that the suggestion of sending them against a foreign fleet would not be entertained for a moment. The truth is that if Germany contemplated sending a fleet to attack this country, she would select only vessels powerful enough to do the work; and, as she has been building a great many more of these powerful warships than we have in the last few years, she necessarily has more of such vessels.
EXPERT QUESTIONS. Very few people have ever considered how many questionsmany of them vital and dependent upon one another-must be intelligently considered and answered by the ablest experts before we can possibly build up an adequate navy. The following are some of them :
What types of warships and how many of each type shall be ordered the first year, and each subsequent years, and how many years shall the program cover?
What proportion of these ships shall be built in the Navy Yards and what in the private yards?