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of what the Navy wanted them to do when they joined us. Without the far-flung barrier of the British fleet a staggering per cent of them would never have lived to find out.
We must, then, have a regular Navy just large enough to do our overseas business, just large enough to afford decent protection against surprise attack, to keep our fleets in readiness for business, and to form the backbone of the war Navy. And we must have a reserve far larger than the navy itself, of trained or partially trained men, available at a moment's notice, each man plying his peaceful trade at home, but with his bag, hammock and mobilization orders stowed neatly in mothballs in the attic. When war comes, each man will shift into uniform, catch a train, walk aboard the destroyer he knows, hang his bag on the same old hook and shout into the galley, "Hey, Slim, have you learned how to cook a decent slum since I saw you last? And who's the new main gob?" Ahhh! Wake me up, someone!
A dream? Of course it is, But It Can Be Done, and what is to the point, cheaply done! Done without a huge regular Navy, done without a huge annual appropriation bill, done without dislocating either the patience or the pocket-book of the nation. And when it is done, merchants, manufacturers, and mothers will thank the Navy for the reliable employees and clean, sturdy sons it turns out. We want no more " Snowbirds " in the navy. Give us clean boys, if only for a short time. We promise to send them back just as clean and considerably more useful to the community at large and the family pay-envelope in particular.
Rich or poor, educated or illiterate, the eighteenth birthday is a milestone in almost every boy's life. If he is lucky, he is starting or planning his college course. If he is not bound for college, he is trying to pick his trade, and only too often lack of mental and manual equipment forces him to pick a trade without a future or a decent competence. Have you ever heard of a boy of eighteen, even one who was the sole support of a family, who, in the absence of education of any sort, would not gladly embrace the opportunity to spend six months learning a trade if he could just send a few dollars a month home meanwhile? At seventeen he is too young. At nineteen he may be so settled in his job that to leave it would be a hardship; but at eighteen there is not one boy in five thousand that has not six months to spare for a profitable purpose before he starts his life work.
Immediately comes the question, "Can we make a really serviceable reservist in six months in time of peace?" It is true that under the pre-war system, very few boys showed much promise before the end of their first year in the service, and many had barely learned to lay out a clothes-bag for inspection in six months. There is this great difference, however. A boy who enlisted in the past, was signing up either from a desire to " see the world " or for a job. To a boy of eighteen, neither object is a stimulus to immediate study or effort; and every old-timer in the service has seen cases without number where boys with undoubted ability and plenty of advice and encouragement have lazied away the greater part of their first enlistment " getting by," hunting the soft job from deck to bridge, from bridge to fireroom, from fireroom to sickbay, and finally ending as a galley-striker. But those boys were " seeing the world," and had a three or four year term stretching ahead of them—" lots of time to get busy." Moreover, as long as they stayed off the report, they were sure of three meals a day, enough money to make an occasional liberty, and were enjoying themselves hugely with their mates. Why work and worry?
Six months under universal service presents a different aspect. A boy's future may depend entirely on what he does with those six months, and he will know it. The poor boy no longer has an apparently endless four years to learn a trade at the navy's expense. Even at eighteen, six months is not a long time; and if he wants to learn a trade he will work. Rich or poor, every boy will know that his position and chances in time of war will depend entirely on his making good during his six months' service in the active reserve. Under universal service, the Navy could pick and choose only the boys who wanted to learn, at that, and the Navy could actually become the greatest trades school in the world, and would rapidly accumulate the sort of reserve that has been the dear dream of every regular since the navy began;—sound, clean, ambitious boys, with their trades well in hand and the sea-habit at least partly acquired.
After the war we are not going to be able to keep in full commission or even in ordinary, all the vessels we have with a regular Navy of any size that the country can afford. Neither can we afford to let them rot out of commission. Nothing will ruin a ship so quickly, and nothing is so costly in the end as to put a ship with any usefulness left in her entirely out of commission. The active reserve is the answer.
We have fitted out and in many cases we have built from the ground up, complete and costly schools. If we revert to pre-war conditions, the majority of these will have to be abandoned, either by sale at a tiny fraction of their cost or by closing and turning over to deterioration and rats. And again the active reserve is the answer which will preserve and utilize the Nav Y's property and earn solid dividends for the country at large.
We cannot make a rolling, tar-and-rope-yarn sailorman in six months, or in two years; but we can make a very passable electrician, carpenter's mate, machinist, oiler, signalman or gun-pointer who can keep himself and his kit clean, know his way about a ship or a yard, and understand the discipline regulations. We can teach him enough in six months to make a very valuable war reservist indeed, and the knowledge thus gained will continue to make him of potential value to the Navy for at least three years and of actual value to his community for the rest of his life. Think it over. Four months of intensive setting-up and school followed by two months of cruising along the coast in the back channel ships to fit the newly acquired school theory to sea-going practice—just straight business and no dressing ship or shore parades—will go a long way toward making a man fit to go right to work in wartime.
Now, take the case of the boy with a fair education at eighteen and the desire and ability to get more. Perhaps his father is sending him to college, and perhaps he is going to work his way through himself. He is going to have during his college course three summers to spend in loafing or working, or otherwise inviting his soul. This boy puts in his six months in the active reserve, gets the taste of salt water in his mouth and likes it. He does not want to enlist in the regular Navy, for he intends to make more of his future than that. I le has the brain and he is going to acquire the knowledge which will put him in line for a more lucrative profession. What can we do for that boy?
This is the easiest question in the whole catechism to answer. If that boy has done well during his active reserve service, has shown pluck and brain and perseverance, he may have the whole of Annapolis to play with during the summer in the absence of the midshipmen. The Navy will not pay him, but at his own charges he may come and grind through an intensive three months in navigation, in ordnance or in steam. He can take one course each summer. If he has completed one course he is eligible to a warrant in that line in case of war. If he has finished two, he can be made a reserve ensign; or if he has taken all three, the Navy will muster him in as a lieutenant, junior grade, at the outbreak of hostilities. To start the war with a higher rank in the reserve, he must put in a year or more as a deck officer or an engineer actually serving at sea in the merchant service. Of course, during the war, he may be promoted as often as the law allows and his abilities and conduct warrant; but to begin as a lieutenant or higher, he should be able to show practical as well as theoretical officer qualities. Service as an officer in the merchant service for three years should counterbalance the Annapolis courses in this respect; and a legal requirement that a first officer's license carry with it the necessity of taking the oath and accepting a naval reserve commission would simplify our mobilization problem a great deal. It is also believed that the merchant service would gain a great many of these college- and Annapolis-trained youngsters as well.
Similarly, a boy who has the normal educational requirements and who has satisfactorily served his six months in the Marine Corps active reserve, may spend two summers at Port Royal or Quantico to obtain a reserve commission as second lieutenant or three summers for a commission as first lieutenant.
Roys who have thus qualified as reserve officers, Navy or Marine CORPS, would remain thus qualified for a period of five years after completion of courses. Boys who have merely put in their six months in the active reserve remain liable to call in the Class I Reserve for two and one-half years after discharge.
IV. A New Tenon Is Necessary
One lesson of the great war which has become so trite that it is liable to be forgotten is that flying is no longer an experiment and a novelty, but is here to stay and cannot be omitted from any sane reorganization of our defenses. Every corps in the Navy has begun hazily as a sort of supernumerary adjunct, another additional duty; if not in our own Navy, at any rate in the experience of others. Even the line itself, the center, backbone and real body of every Navy in the world was once only a sort of civilian staff corps whose duty was merely to place Edward Ill's Marines in an advantageous situation to fight. No corps, in this web-footed status has ever given complete satisfaction or real return for money invested. Flying is here, and flying cannot be properly attended to by watch and division officers. Sooner or later we have got to form the Naval Flying Corps on a permanent, recognized basis, and thus make it possible for a man to throw his whole energy into flying work without losing professional ground and prejudicing his future and value as a seagoing officer. When the country and the Navy demand service, its performance should be put on an equality with any other service in point of permanence and future for the public servant engaged therein. Let us have a Naval Flying Corps, with a personnel of its own charged with all the aerial activities of the fleet and the beach. Only by making flying a main line instead of a side issue can we insure proper development and progress, and thus only can we insure ourselves of a decent supply of reserve aviation pilots, mechanics, quartermasters and gunners.
Flying is perhaps readier to receive and care for our six months active reservist than any other branch of the service. The schools are admirably equipped and ample, the balloons, dirigibles and planes are here in quantities. Six months in the schools; and thereafter boys with the present educational requirements to spend their summers qualifying as ensign-pilots—what vacations for live, adventurous boys! And what a flying reserve we could soon have!
Let the possibilities of the Flying Corps gradually unfold before your mental eyes. Can we afford to let our opportunity slip? The country cannot. What we have established at a cost of millions, we can preserve at a cost of thousands. Otherwise, another emergency will oblige us to spend millions again, and probably, since we cannot again count on so long a period of immunity in which to spend them the number of millions will be multiplied many times.