Слике страница

years pass, they will gradually cease to be a bulwark and an asset. The Civil War left us with millions of hard-bitten soldiers. The European War found us with next to none.

The discharge of the Naval Reserve will unman hundreds of ships. Of the navy crews now operating the overseas vessels, hardly i per cent will remain as seamen and firemen for the merchant marine. But the traffic must go on.

Demobilization and consequent placing of vessels out of naval commission will pack the yards with material in staggering quantities, every pound of it purchased at war prices, every pound of it requiring care, and every pound of it becoming obsolete as all war material will in woefully short time.

We cannot this time afford to treat this material as we have treated the residue of other wars. The permanent buildings on all Naval Reservations would not suffice to keep the perishable material out of the rain ; and the country needs the return of its metals and its machines, its boats and its binoculars, as much as it needs the return of its men. America has enlisted for the war, and we cannot allow inanimate America to decay on our wharves and scrap-piles after it has done its bit. Much of this material will be immediately returnable. Raw materials and the factories to work them up can be reconverted to peaceful uses with less trouble than was necessary to convert them for war. Dismounting of guns, cleaning ship, a fresh coat of paint, and the S. P. boat becomes a yacht or a fisherman again. But what of the wooden barracks, the airplanes, the 110-footers, the guns, the schools and shops now on government land and unreturnable, the hundreds of destroyers and the fleet of former enemy ships converted into transports? If we have any idea of letting them deteriorate as we have before-if we again reduce our navy by "natural shrinkage at the top, adding nothing at the bottom"—then, brothers, no providence with any sense of humor is going to let us escape without a sharp lesson. “I've seen many wicked men and many fools," said the story-teller of Vailima. “I believe both get paid in the end, but the fools first."

Here, then, is the first staggering sight of the problem. Take one station of many, Pensacola. The sun of April 6, 1917, rose over a sleepy, blossoming garden set amid white sand, a few quarters, a few brick buildings, a hangar or two, 156 men. Today, barely 18 months later, not only is every foot of ground inside

the gray walls used to capacity, but the great hangars, barracks, messhalls and other new construction have overflowed the walls and run down the beach a long eye-shot. Just one of the many Pensacola squadrons boasts more planes than the entire station of two years ago. Just one of the many training schools of Pensacola contains double or treble the pre-war personnel. And still, fast as it can be built and planned, the plant is just a jump behind the need, and will probably remain so to the end of the war. With another year of war, Pensacola Station would come close to being the largest industrial plant in the state. Perhaps it is now. If the war ends as other wars have ended, in complete demobilization and return to former conditions, there will not be enough personnel in Pensacola to give each building one man for a caretaker, without counting the vast accumulation of material.

Pensacola may be multiplied by 50 on this coast alone. Pelham Bay, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Quantico, these are a few that have no pre-war complement, yet they are thriving, hustling industrial cities with millions of dollars visible in material and construction. New York Navy Yard may now be said almost to comprise the waterfront from New Rochelle to Jersey City. League Island is only the heart of a vast shipyard from Camden to the bay. Norfolk Yard is but the nerve center of a corporation so huge that a little while back it would have been considered an impossible absurdity to contemplate.

Ten years ago, the back channel at Philadelphia was choked with a collection of rudimentary, Civil War monitors. We had treated them Old-Navy fashion, spending on each one annually enough red lead and grease to pay for her sale value as scrap iron. And they had absolutely no other value. The entire pre-war appropriation bill would hardly cover the preservation of our present accumulation of material; and yet the material will be there, useful for little besides war, or of no use at all unless we take serious thought right now. Twenty, 15, even 10 years from now, another emergency would find us with much obsolete junk, little serviceable stuff, skeleton personnel and no reserve, just as this one did. We must make that material work and produce good, tangible results in safety, and betterment for the country that paid for it. It must become an asset, and not a consumed and finished expenditure. We cannot expect to keep on hand the material necessary to fight a great war through a long period of peace.

But we can, and must, plan so that the transition from peace to war may be made in the future with less tearing up of industry by the roots. We must plan to carry such reserve of up-to-date material as will be necessary to tide us over the period of transition without delaying the start of operations. And we must have a personnel reserve that can take hold from the day of mobilization, without further delay than is necessary to throw at each man a bag of clothes, a hammock and a typhoid shot.

The ships of the Emergency Fleet will be turned over in some way to normal and lawful trade—we of the navy are not concerned in that. Those ships, however, will need men, and men for them will never be obtained under the pre-war conditions that put the Dollar Line under the Chinese flag and banished the Pacific Mail from the trans-Pacific lanes. And here the navy is interested, and vitally so. Think, brothers, what would it have meant to the part of the navy you began the war with, if arming and manning the merchant ships had meant only a trip to the nearest yard to mount the guns, a thunderous and unanimous “I do!" from all hands on each ship as the skipper read out the oath of allegiance, and a scamper to get out of slop-rig and into regulation blues? What would it have meant in your home yard if on April 7th of last year a thousand "limited service” mechanics had walked in through the gate and into your shops, each knowing the way to his own lathe or drill? How much younger would you be now if the first reservists who marched aboard your ship had plumped full bags down on the deck, and in response to your inquiry had saluted smartly and answered “ Broadside guns, Sir. Sevens or sixes. Ten crews, complete, and 50 extra shellmen."

The other side of the picture is this—three or four million returned soldiers, three or four million munition workers, their pay envelopes suddenly stopped. During the transition and before complete relocation, there are going to be several restless people in this land. Can we help any of them?

II. THE KEY HOLE The war has taken the daily life of every one of us and transformed it into something we do not yet quite understand. We watch ourselves going about our daily business with a speculative wonder. Things are the same outwardly; but so subtly different

within. We feel neither discomfort nor regret--not many of us feel any conscious exaltation or setting of jaws. Things are just different, and we are surprised at how easily we have slipped into the new order which we have not yet even formulated in our minds. We know vaguely that our entire national attitude has been violently wrenched through 180°. We know that our postwar commerce, society and organization must never be again the happy-go-lucky, purblind scheme of things that made this crash possible. We know that not even an international boundary line will mean the same in the future that it has in the past. We don't know what all the changes will be, nor how they will affect us personally; but we do know that, with our newly awakened national solidarity, our new national soul, we are going to do our level best to make the reorganization a real one and a wise one and one that will make a better, stronger America and a cleaner, sweeter world. And we have realized one thing very solidly, and having realized it, have gained something worth fine gold. And that something is that UNIVERSAL SERVICE IS THE MOST DEMOCRATIC, THE MOST UNMILITARISTIC, THE MOST RELIABLE FORM OF PREPAREDNESS; AND THAT UNIVERSAL SERVICE IS THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO AMERICAN BOYS AND THEIR FAMILIES. Hundreds of thousands of flat-chested, timid, shifty-eyed, mouthy boys have gone to war, but not one of them will return with peace. In their place will come back quiet, level-eyed, self-respecting, broad-shouldered, self-reliant men. Hundreds of thousands of boys whose hands had no cunning have joined the colors. Very few will come back without at least the rudiments of a useful trade at their finger-tips, and this is especially true of the boys who have come to us, the NAVY. We need few "gun-toters,” but we can turn out machinists and artisans by the thousand.

If we abandon universal service, be the term ever so short, after the war, we will throw away the greatest national blessing we have found so far, from the point of view not only of national safety, but also of national economy and national health and national education. And we will lose something else that has cost us much to learn. To-day, the ARMY and the NAVY are not strange collections of peculiar men, apart from the rest of us, necessary but perfectly unintelligible. The word “officer" does not mean tyrant or bully or martinet to the layman now, and the newest recruit knows before he joins what an officer is really

for-to teach, to guide, and to provide for the welfare of his men. As a nation America has learned that discipline is not to exalt the few above the many. It is to provide for the safety of the many and to place the responsibility, therefore, squarely on the officers whose raison d'être it is. America and her soldiers and sailors must never again become strangers to each other. Moreover, nothing but universal service is going to tide over our transition period and utilize our waste.


[ocr errors]

III. FILLING THE WARDS We have in the navy and its branches, at present, a round half million of men. We need them, and every one of them is busy. But of that half million, a huge percentage are “one-specialty men." Ships that normally would go cheerily about their business with ten or a dozen regular officers are carrying twenty-five or thirty, not because the officers are slothful or inefficient, but because most of them are efficient only in one line, and have had no time to become proficient in others. The deck officers are good deck officers and the gunnery officers good gunnery officers; but a comparative few of the deck officers can run a gun's crew through a morning's drill period and teach them anything. It may be safely said that with a very moderate amount of all-around training, sixteen thousand officers and four hundred thousand men would have accomplished as much if not more than our present twenty thousand officers and half million men who have been trained for one job only.

We obviously cannot keep a regular, standing navy of four hundred and sixteen thousand officers and men. We don't want them, we can't afford them, and we have no real use for them. If we can build a reserve that can come aboard with the knowledge our present reserve will have when it goes ashore and musters out, we shall have found the real answer to sea-going preparedness, economy and safety. In the past we tried to bribe men into the reserve, and made the reserve so attractive that many regulars who otherwise would have stayed with us through life preferred to leave us for it. But we did not accumulate a trained reserve, and of our half million not 15 per cent had the vaguest idea

« ПретходнаНастави »