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coast guard, when the relations that must exist between them in time of war are considered, or that should prevail in preparation for the same. They are not one-man ideas, but result from an experience of 29 years in the late revenue cutter service (now the coast guard) and from discussion of conditions with officers of the coast guard and of the navy, many of whom are warm advocates of the ideas advanced. If this paper serves no other end than to arouse an interest and general discussion that may be productive of results, the aim of the writer will have been accomplished.
The arm of the public service which is now the coast guard was originally established in 1790. As it increased in size, there was added a life-saving branch, which, in the course of years, became disassociated with the then revenue cutter service and was created a separate organization; but officers of the revenue cutter service continued to be detailed as inspecting officers of the life-saving service and elevated it to a high state of efficiency.
On January 28, 1915, the President signed the act of Congress creating the “United States Coast Guard,” which unified the then existing revenue cutter and life-saving services. By the terms of the act, the coast guard “shall constitute a part of the military forces of the United States and shall operate under the Treasury Department in time of peace and shall operate as a part of the navy, subject to the orders of the Secretary of the Navy, in time of war, or when the President shall so direct." Thus the status of the coast guard is clearly defined and its officers and men are regulars in the same sense as are those of the army, navy, or marine corps ; a fact that must not be lost sight of in following the subject matter of this paper. It is necessary for a clear understanding that we inquire into both the personnel and matériel of the coast guard to consider the strong and weak points of each and then to take immediate advantage of the former and rectify the latter without delay.
THE PERSONNEL If we consider the coast guard with respect to the numerical value of its personnel, the service may not be deemed a large one, although 4000 men are practically the equivalent of the crews of four capital ships. We must differentiate, however, as between
mere “numbers ” and “ force" and realize that in the coast guard there lies the potentialities for the latter and advantage taken of that fact. We may here regard the words of a noted military writer as aptly applying: “The stronger each unit is in peace, the more efficient will it become for war; hence, the vital importance of aiming at quality and not numbers." We seek to increase the value of the coast guard as a “force," therefore it will become our duty to inquire as to ways and means.
The total personnel of the coast guard, as at present organized, consists of approximately 259 commissioned officers, line and staff, and about 4000 warrant officers and enlisted men. There are also 13 district superintendents who were transferred from the late life-saving service, and hold relative rank with certain grades in the commissioned rank. They are not sea-going officers.
In addition to the personnel above noted, there are at the Coast Guard Academy, Fort Trumbull, New London, three classes of cadets and cadet engineers. All of the line officers of the coast guard and practically every member of the two junior grades of engineers are graduates of that institution, while the senior grades of engineers are largely composed of graduates of colleges or technical schools where marine engineering is specialized in. The three-year course at the academy is a rigorous one, and upon graduation the cadets go forth exceptionally well equipped educationally for the profession they have chosen. That there are few bilgers ” may be attributed to the fact that the entrance examination is difficult and strictly competitive. It is also intended to assure that the successful candidate has the necessary groundwork to warrant his graduation, providing he applies himself to his studies.
It can be confidently stated that the Coast Guard Academy is yearly graduating young men who are as competent all-round officers as are to be found in any branch of the regular service.
Due to the excellent results that have eventuated from assigning junior line officers to engineering duty and junior engineers to line duty, the commandant of the coast guard has advocated the amalgamation of the engineer corps with the line, a project much to be desired, providing it can be accomplished with harmony to the best interest of the service.
While ballistics is included in the course in ordnance and gunnery, and Alger is completed, it is unfortunate that the cadets are
not afforded an opportunity to have practical experience with heavier ordnance than 6-pounders and 3-inch naval field pieces. Their knowledge so far as the handling of heavier pieces is concerned is confined to theory only. Does it seem a good business proposition to deny to the young officers the opportunity to put into practice that which they have been taught and which they have thoroughly learned while cadets?
The warrant officers and enlisted men attached to the vessels of the coast guard are as thoroughly drilled, both afloat and ashore, as infantry, as is possible with the means at the hands of their officers, and the station bills are modeled upon those of a certain destroyer. The crews are always under strict military discipline and may be regarded as highly efficient, so far as their military training extends. As a body of men they are the equal of any and they are an upstanding, fearless group of seamen-those who man the coast guard cutters and those who go down to the sea in ships know this to be so.
The principal shortcoming in the training of the ships' companies is the lack of experience with guns of a caliber that they will use in war, for while the present 6-pounders with which the cutters are armed will undoubtedly be carried in battery, it is a fallacy to believe that they will be the heaviest guns carried in war-time. The installation of 4-inch 50-caliber pieces has been urged within the past two years, but without avail. The point is: Must the coast guard wait until mobilization and then begin to train gun crews with the pieces they are to use for offensive and defensive purposes? There is not a range-finder issued a single coast guard cutter; hence, antiquated methods for determining the range must be resorted to, while good spotting is in reality solely depended on for results while on the range.
So far as the crews of the coast guard stations are concerned the men (with the exception of those who have previously served upon the ships) are lacking in the essentials of military training, but it is because they have never had the opportunity for acquiring any. In the late life-saving service there were no military features. Now, however, that the station crews are components of a military service, intensive training along military lines should be a matter for immediate consideration, because such training can be given without prejudice to their duty of saving life upon occasion.
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
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 role 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