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elemes than this, of abroad a very mh Africa, India, present
of 120,000 men cannot be raised and trained at short notice, it is highly desirable that we should exercise a little forethought, and provide ourselves beforehand with that best means of defence, which consists in the power, if need be, to strike.
Thus according to the Secretary of State the nation should be prepared, in the event of war, to maintain across the seas an army of 235,000 men. Of course, at the present moment we are employing in South Africa, India, Egypt, and the garrisons abroad a very much larger number of troops than this, of one sort or another, drawn from various elements and from various districts of the Empire. In addition to this force of 235,000 men, the whole of it employed, if need be, abroad, Mr. Brodrick contemplates a purely home force consisting of Regulars, Reserves, Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers, exceeding in number 500,000 men, after making large deductions for sick and recruits. Our military "grand totals' are as usual highly impressive; and perhaps they are somewhat dangerous as raising in the popular mind an entirely erroneous belief as to the magnitude of the army which we can really put in the field. In 1897, long before the late emergencies had summoned men from all parts of the Empire to the Colours, General Maurice, in his book on national defences, gave the total number of the army and other land forces of the Crown, including 73,000 British troops in India, at nearly 720,000 men, every one of whom was serving voluntarily, some with pay and some without. Of these, in round numbers, 230,000 were Regulars and in the Reserve, 73,000 were in India, 150,000 were Militia and Yeomanry, and 260,000 were Volunteers.
Mr. Brodrick puts plainly the all-important question, 'Is 'our Army in future for home defence to be a voluntary • army, or is it to be recruited by compulsion ?' It is only for home defence that the question arises, as it is conceded on all hands that conscripts cannot be employed for Indian or other foreign service, and that to that extent at least the Army must remain voluntary. Mr. Brodrick says with truth that. the voluntary system for home defence is not e * thing to be proud of, unless you get an efficient defence;' and he then limits his adhesion to the voluntary system by the condition that under it 'a force can be obtained with which our military authorities can satisfy the Government
that they have sufficient force to resist invasion, and they ' can maintain it to their satisfaction.'
cormy of India of necessistem to the not all, many distina
This important question cannot, however, be regarded as one for military experts alone. Doubtless many distinguished soldiers, though certainly not all, would like to assimilate our military system to the systems of the Continent, making, of necessity, exceptional provision for the Army of India. Compulsory ballot for the Militia, a limited conscription, seems to them so simple and so effective a means of getting what they believe to be essential to the safety of the country, that they hardly have the patience to consider the weight of the reasoning against it. Of course if the kingdom cannot be adequately defended without conscription, conscription we must have. There we are all agreed. But surely a population of some forty millions in the British Islands, whose spirit is equal to sending 300,000 men, every one of them serving voluntarily, to South Africa, India, and the Colonies, can, if it is shown the necessity for it, raise an army of 500,000 willing men to defend their own homes. After a year which has given us 140,000 voluntary recruits, it would, indeed, be a singular proceeding to inaugurate a system of compulsion. We should have been glad had Mr. Brodrick sounded in this matter a clearer note. Englishmen on both sides of the Atlantic have their own ways of doing their own business, and they cannot be forced into Continental moulds. An army of conscripts for the defence of England, we shall not see, for the simple reason that till the spirit of Englishmen has declined we shall not need compulsion to fill the ranks. It is, we believe, a healthy instinct which trusts 'the freeman's arm
to save the freeman's laws.' This instinct and spirit form one of the main elements of our national strength; and to it statesmen may safely appeal in the future, as they have done in the past, to make every effort which the security of the country may require. It is for them and their military advisers to consider, with due regard to our national character, the best means of obtaining the best material for our home army. The labourer is worthy of his hire, and the public is quite prepared to pay whatever our statesmen may prove to be necessary for the adequate defence of the country by sea and land.
As regards the question of conscript versus volunteer we would call the attention of our readers to the best comment that has yet been published on the ignorant and ill-conditioned criticism recently poured by foreign writers upon British soldiering in the South African war. Colonel Henderson knows Continental armies well, and the history of
reasot not nealthy instig laws our nation future, he
Continental wars. The great Civil War in America he has studied deeply, and in his. Life of Stonewall Jackson 'he has given us one of the best military biographies in the language. His experience, and the high place he held on the staff of Lord Roberts, entitle him, if anyone, to the hearing of soldiers not less than of civilians. What then does he tell us, in his introduction to Count Sternberg's interesting and impartial · Experiences of the Boer War'?
He states that whatever the percentage of casualties ' our • battalions never lost their moral. As success seemed further off, and ranks grew thinner, the only effect on the men was to increase their resolution.
"Let the critics of our soldiers ponder these facts; let them recall the fine marching and patient endurance of the half-starved regiments, and if they still see no cause to doubt the superiority of the conscript they know little of war. ... What foreign soldiers cannot, or perhaps will not, see is that the war in South Africa, like the war in the Peninsula and the Civil War in America, is a triumph for the principle of voluntary service. The moral of conscript armies has always been their weakest point; and it is the hope that the moral of the volunteer is no longer of a higher type that accounts for upwarrant able inferences and the unscrupulous manipulation of flimsy evidence.'
Mr. Brodrick's specific proposals will receive ample discussion before they are ripe for carrying into effect. As to the plan of organising the British army on a basis of army corps rather than of divisions, a system naturally adopted in the armies of the Continent, there is a good deal to be said on both sides of the question; and the same holds good as to other proposals—to employ much more largely than heretofore Indian troops out of India, to garrison some of our principal fortresses with soldiers considered to be too old for service in the field, to raise the strength of the Militia by half as much again, to add 25,000 men to the Yeomanry, and to better the training of the Volunteers so that a considerable number of battalions may be brigaded with regular troops. All these questions have to be considered in their practical bearing, and it is difficult to see how any real beginning to carry them out can be made till the present war is ended.
We are, however, convinced that the more Mr. Brodrick's speech is studied the more the public will approve the estimates made by him and by Lord Roberts of the military requirements of the country. In a matter of such vital importance we cannot afford to run risks. To say this is not to undervalue our naval strength, or to lose sight of
the fact that on the ultimate success of the Navy is
dependent our national safety. Even if we possessed the I most formidable army in the world, where should we be
after the overthrow of our naval power ? Of our naval position we treat elsewhere. It is no light task to maintain a navy equal to performing the manifold duties that will devolve upon it in time of war, and it is only prudent to take securities against the temporary failure or beguilement of the fleet. Naval warfare under modern conditions may bring us many surprises, whilst it is quite certain that in themselves the operations of collecting, embarking, transporting and landing a large body of troops have been enormously facilitated. If,' said Mr. Brodrick, 'there could “be any certainty in warfare '--and he was then speaking of naval warfare—'we might dispense with our army of home
defence altogether. It may be that invasion is an off • chance, but you cannot run an Empire of this extent on an
off chance. The probable effect of really adequate measures of dealing with an army landed upon our shores would be to prevent any invasion taking place at all. The greatness of the object to be attained might tempt an enemy to run the great risk which would in any case attend upon invasion. A few miles' march upon an unfortified capital, which no measures had in advance been taken to defend, might present an almost irresistible attraction to an enemy which only for a few days was reasonably secure against naval defeat in the Channel. There is no adequate cause for want of preparedness on our part. To make our country absolutely safe organisation and forethought are all that are wanted. In position, in numbers, in the spirit of the people, and in the means to utilise all these in defence of the country, ministers have to hand, surely, everything that the heart of man can desire. Before the present Parliament is at an end it is not too much to hope that the difficulties of national defence will have been surmounted, and that the mighty strength of the Empire will have been so organised as to make it safe against any combination of foes.
No. CCCXCVII. will be published in July.