Preparations At The Outbreak Of War
Actual preparations for war cannot be kept secret for any length of
time. Opponents would receive information through secret channels,
which would give them opportunity to concentrate and equip their
forces. The immediate preparations before the outbreak of war dare not
be instituted generally, but as soon as the decision for operations is
conceived, they must be promptly inaugurated. The aim should be to
keep the oppo
ents in uncertainty for a short time, and then a rapidly
executed operation would take them unawares. An unexpected attack
depends largely upon rapidity of movement. Incidentally, diplomatic
pressure should be avoided if possible because such friction would
lessen considerably the chances for a successful undertaking.
In connection with wars on land the preliminary preparations are
simplified, for under these circumstances most of the battleships and
troops have been equipped and prepared for action. The methods to be
employed by the battleships to carry out the operations would vary and
must be left to the discretion of the chosen naval expert. It should
be pointed out in this connection, however, that with a small battle
fleet like ours it is most necessary to concentrate our full strength
for the defense and execution of the land operations. We must
endeavor, therefore, in time of peace to get our fleet forces out of
foreign waters and keep the battle fleet together. Thus the great
political questions would be decided only upon the European scene.
A rapid mobilization of our sea fighting forces, namely, those which
belong to the battle fleet, is of great advantage, but the calling in
from foreign waters of such forces would undoubtedly serve to create
suspicion. The Kaiser Wilhelm Canal affords us the means to
concentrate these forces quickly as may be required either in the
North or Baltic Sea.
If the demands for ships and supplies exceed our advance preparations,
proper methods should be employed to seize quickly what is needed and
immediate reparation made. Plans should also be made to secure
sufficient reenforcements of troops. In large operations where all our
ships are employed, after they are successfully loaded and started on
the voyage the transports arriving from foreign waters can be
equipped. All ships belonging to hostile nations that are lying in our
harbors we would of course seize and utilize for transports.
While the distribution of our transport steamers at the various points
of embarkation will have been taken care of by the loading commission,
various difficulties would be encountered in altering the vessels that
by chance are at the disposal of the commission for transports, such
as unforeseen defects and inaccurate measurements of the foreign
chartered steamers arriving in our ports. The adjustment and equipment
of these ships must be expedited so that the troops can be despatched
in masses as fast as they arrive. Once the ships reach the selected
harbors the necessary rearrangements probably can be made
simultaneously with the loading, depending upon the advance
preparations and the presence of a skilled staff of workmen. The time
needed will depend somewhat upon the length of the voyage to be made.
In England the steamers for transporting troops to Cape Town, which is
a long trip, were prepared in four days for the infantry and in seven
days for the cavalry and artillery. The consuming of such time, even
for a long sea voyage, must be considered poor execution. At the time
of our expedition to China we had the ships complete in a short time.
For one steamer, the discharge of the cargo, readjustment for
transport and reloading, with the exception of the cavalry, not more
than two days need be consumed. For short distances, according to
English and Russian estimates, one day is required for infantry and
two to two and one-half days for cavalry and artillery. These periods
can be greatly shortened through the efficiency of the building
staff, as pointed out previously.
The formation of the expedition corps must of course be established in
the annual maneuvers. Various factors, such as seasons, political
aims, present situation of opponents, extent of material for the
available ships, all bear witness to the urgency of taking up measures
in advance for facilitating the work of mobilization. The speedy
concentration of troops and materials at the points of embarkation
will make heavy demands upon the railroads, even though the haul is
short, and the shipment comparatively small. Arrangements should
therefore be made with the railroads to have on hand at all times
sufficient rolling stock for these purposes, to guarantee the prompt
departure of the transports. It is urged that authority be given the
loading commission to supervise and direct this work. It must be
taken into consideration that part of the troops are inexperienced
reserves and good order must be maintained. A high standard of
efficiency should prevail, to lessen the burdens of executing orders.
Numerous machine gun divisions increase the fighting strength and do
not require great space or support. The usefulness of a cyclist
division depends entirely upon the condition of the roads in the
hostile country. For the reasons stated previously, cavalry would not
suffer in distribution of strength, which is customary in wars on
land. In large over-seas operations it is recommended that a special
cavalry division or brigade be formed for reconnoitering purposes.
Beyond this, the strength of the cavalry division must be sufficient
to render possible an independent operation. It would also be of great
value to the field artillery, of which an ample supply is on hand.
Especially important is the method of distributing supply trains, for
these require a great deal of space and render landing very difficult.
They also hinder the rapid movement of the expedition corps. When the
transports do not remain in close communication with the troops after
landing, a very large supply of stores is necessary to make the army
independent of the vessels. There should be added, therefore, a
reserve ammunition column to that already provided.
A fixed amount of supplies should be determined upon, taking due
consideration of the extent of the voyage. The troops could
requisition some materials from the hostile country.