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The vast majority of the older men of the station crews have been retired, leaving the men on the active list comparatively young, and among recent recruits may be found many high-school graduates; the keepers realizing that to have their respective stations pass a satisfactory inspection, the personnel must be young, active, and intelligent men. The writer has found the men (especially those in the Fifth Coast Guard District, Sandy Hook to Cape May) to be enthusiastic, keen to adapt themselves to their new environments, and desirous of keeping abreast of their mates on board of their ships. They are either “expert” or “proficient” signalmen, besides being a brave and hardy lot, who can face any wind or weather and stand the “racket.” With training on board of ships, what a magnificient force for any emergency! The station crews are not armed in any manner. The writer is aware of instances where the men constructed rifle ranges, bought rifles and held target practice. Their ability to shoot should be encouraged and an opportunity given them to qualify as marksmen, etc. There are now 1800 rifle clubs scattered throughout the country and their civilian members receive the encouragement of the government. Is it not a necessity that the men who in time of war would constitute the naval patrol should be given an opportunity to perfect themselves in musketry? In fact, should not machine guns, as well as rifles, be made the armament of coast guard stations? It is difficult to note where any logic lies in the suggestion that because the crews of the present coast guard stations were originally created for the purpose of saving life only, that now, when merged into a military arm of the government, military training should be neglected and that the men be kept in comparative, if not absolute, ignorance of arms. Should hostilities with a maritime nation eventuate, there will be greater necessity for an adequate coast patrol by the station crews than for the purpose of patrol in the rôle of savers of lives, due to possible enemy activities and a restricted commerce along the coast; but if the occasion were to arise for the utilization of the crews to save life, on occasion, would there be anything to prevent their performing a humanitarian duty? Absolutely, “No.” The more versatile the men, the greater their individual efficiency and the units of which they are a part.
It has been argued by a very few that the benefit to be derived from developing the station crews along military lines would not be productive of results, because the force so trained would be a negligible one for the purposes of defence, due to the smallness of the crews. It is contended by a progressive element, however, that as the station crews comprise in the aggregate over 2000 men on a peace complement alone, it is a force worth training if for no other purpose than as a nucleus for an expanded force on shore, or, with a reserve to fill the stations upon the advent of war, the utilization of the station crews afloat in manning the ships. It may be that possibly a war must come before this will be brought home to us. The point for immediate consideration with respect to the personnel of the coast guard appears to be as follows: Is a body of 254 commissioned officers, each of whom has been educated at government expense, and approximately 5000 enlisted men, constituting a part of the military force of the country, to be increased in military efficiency, until the efficiency of the whole be raised to a high order or not? Assuming that the answer be in the affirmative, in what manner may the desired result be brought about? From the viewpoint of a large number of officers of the coast guard, the following general scheme should be adopted, because there will be a time when the services of the officers and men of that corps will be urgently needed and because of the additional fact that from no other source, outside of the navy proper, can there be had a like number of officers of equal attainments and a warrant and enlisted personnel of like proportion trained to the sea and to military discipline, ready to automatically become a part of the navy, and to do the work demanded of them. All officers of the coast guard, from first lieutenant down, should be given experience on board of capital ships, scout cruisers, destroyers, submersibles, and mine vessels; while the senior captains and captains of that service should be required to take the course at the Naval War College, as has been done by some voluntarily in years gone by. Senior and junior officers should be encouraged to make a study of the war games by the correspondence method now in vogue in the navy, and all officers should be given an opportunity for practical experience in the war games along the coast; for while the army and navy have enjoyed such an experience in common, no instance is on record where the coast guard has ever been able to profit from participation therein. The foregoing suggestions, if put into effect, would vastly increase the versatility of the officers of the coast guard, but prior to doing so, the commissioned personnel should be expanded commensurate not only with the size of the service, but the age and experience of the officers. At present, with an enlisted personnel of above 4000 men, there are but six senior captains (commanders); and the remaining commanding officers, those who do the real work at sea, enjoy the rank of captain (lieutenant commander), while adequate promotion in the junior grades is lacking. It is proper to digress here to point to the fact that the present rank held by those afloat not only in the commissioned, but in the warrant ranks, not to mention the petty officer class, is entirely inadequate and must tend to prevent that full efficiency that is to be expected of the coast guard in the event of its becoming for the time being a part of the navy. The handwriting is on the wall, and in the event of the service fulfilling the terms of the statute providing for its becoming a part of the navy, the lack of adequate rank will be a disturbing factor which will, by necessity, engage the attention of the Navy Department and legislation will have to be had. The writer is not gifted with clairvoyant powers and is as much at loss as to the ultimate destination of officers in the coast guard, in the event of mobilization and the duty each will perform, as are his fellows; but unless he is a false prophet, legislation must be had in order that they may do the work, and any legislation that may by necessity be enacted in war-time will be inadequate by reason of influences difficult to control. Therefore, measures should be at once taken to adjust the rank of officers by timely Congressional action, while at the same time adjusting the rank of warrant officers to meet impending conditions and to expand the petty officer class to make it a real incentive among the men. During the months of July and August of each year, or if for only during one of those months, the crews of the coast guard cutters should be placed on board of naval ships in reserve, or ordinary, and, under coast guard officers, taken to sea and given gunnery practice with heavy ordnance. On the initial cruise only, a naval gunnery officer should be detailed as an aid to the commanding officer, because of the naval officer's present knowledge of the naval ships and equipment. After that one cruise, the services of the naval man would not be required, as the coast guard officers would have absorbed the essentials necessary and the ships could be safely trusted in their care for all the purposes of training. The practice suggested is essential for both officers and men and its necessity should be recognized. Would it not be desirable to have certain vessels of the navy set aside for manning by the coast guard in case of war? We of the coast guard know that results could be delivered, and the expediency of such a scheme should receive consideration. Reflect for a moment on what is being done by the navy to advance the efficiency of the naval militia, and also the efforts that are being made to induce others from civil life to embark on cruises for training purposes and the degree of instruction given them. One wonders as to what the mental process must be of those who neglect the coast guard and compel it to work out its own salvation with practically no aid of any kind and with an appropriation that is almost pathetic, by reason of inadequacy, to meet even the ordinary running expenses of the service. “It is the shots that hit that count,” we are all taught that; consequently, the batteries of all cruising coast guard ships should be immediately increased to include 4-inch or 3-inch guns, according to the size of the vessel. Real enthusiasm will then be had on the range and the resulting scores will stimulate the crews; they will feel that they are in possession of guns which they may one day have to use for more serious purpose than mere range work. Not long ago an officer of the navy advised against the expense of re-arming the coast guard cutters and suggested that “they could have recourse to rifle fire for offensive and defensive purposes.” The writer again begs to say that he is no prophet, but advances the suggestion that should coast guard vessels be ever called on for defensive or offensive purposes, there will be a most urgent necessity for other than rifle fire in any actions in which they may engage.
A COAST GUARD RESERVE
For some time past, numerous officers of the coast guard have appreciated the advisability of a coast guard reserve. Lieutenant C. C. Gill, U. S. Navy, has, in his able article in the September-October, 1916, issue of the PRoceEDINGs, dwelt on the necessity of such a reserve, and it is the first instance, to the writer's knowledge, where such a proposition has appeared in print or been considered outside of the coast guard. The army and navy reserves are not tangible assets of those services. Should we not immediately proceed to create for the coast guard a reserve that will be necessary in the event of war? In suggesting the cutter and station crews on a yearly training cruise, the matter of a reserve was in the writer's mind; the idea being that while the active crews were on that cruise, the cutters and stations would be manned by the reserves who should be given, during that period, a thorough course of drill. The statutes provide that the period of enlistment in the coast guard shall not exceed a term of three years for each enlistment; while by regulations the present period of enlistment is but one year. In view of that fact, it should be required of all enlisted men that they go into the reserve at the expiration of their respective enlistments and there remain for a period of three years (a certain sum as retainer pay being allotted to them), but to be ready for a call to active duty upon occasion. For the purposes of a reserve it should be divided into three classes: Class A, all those who have previously served in the coast guard afloat; Class B, all those having had previous service in coast guard stations only; Class C, those from civil life seeking enlistment and to be recruited wholly from among the fishermen along the coasts. In war-time, temporary commissions in the regular coast guard should be given to the requisite number of warrant officers, professionally qualified; while provisional appointment as reserve officers should be extended to such of the enlisted personnel then in the service who demonstrate their qualifications, or who, being qualified, have already entered the reserve. The service is essentially a seafaring one; consequently, all reserves should be seasoned men, able to stand the wear and tear of actual, hard duty at sea and with a full knowledge of service