There can he little doubt that the experi ence of the nation in the noted war with Ger many will greatly enlarge the vision of the country as to the technical requirements for modern warfare. The value of preliminary training must be generally recognized and it is reasonably certain that State administrations will be more ready than ever before to co operate with Federal authorities in plans to harmonize training and equipment as well as organization and paper work methods with regular army standards. The nation will un doubtedly accede to the demand for a larger regular army than has ever before been au thorized and the people at large are apt to maintain a closer and more critical interest in the professional efficiency of the army. The time has come for the dual services to really co-operate for the good of the country. The State troops know now how vitally necessary are training and discipline. The regular should know that the country will not permit him to lag behind any foreign service in scientific development. Both have learned how tremen dous is the physical strain of modern campaigns and must recognize the necessity for great attention to physical training. It was a dis agreeable revelation to the whole nation to discover that a terribly large proportion of our young men were found physically unfit for the army when summoned by the draft. Quite as astonishing was the discovery of illiteracy, for the very rudimentary requirements found more than 24 per cent illiterate and any test which had required the equivalent of a good school education would have resulted in a much greater disqualification.
It is slow work to build into military ciency men who are either physically or mentally below the average.
As the United States will always find it necessary to hurry the training of national armies summoned in emergencies it becomes apparent that the boys of the nation ought as a whole to be better developed both physically and mentally before being permitted to leave school. Tile wisdom of this course would be chiefly apparent in their vastly increased eco nomic value in the business affairs of the nation but it would also be a great asset in the event of a dangerous war which should require our utmost strength.
In recognition of this necessity the State of New York has recently passed a law calling for the compulsory military training of all boys in the State between the ages of 16 and 19. The instruction is devoted largely to the physical development of the boys. Out of 200,000 regis tered it was found that 85 per cent were already at work leaving only 15 per cent in the schools at 16, 17 or 18 years of age.
In the autumn of 1919 it is still too soon to judge what will be the ultimate effect upon our military system of our participation in the wars and the politics of Europe.
The vast forces raised in 1917 have been brought home and disbanded. The armies of the United States were raised to more than four million men and half of that great total were transported overseas to a battle front where they bore a conspicuous part in the great offensive which in the summer and early autumn of 1918 drove the German armies out of the fortified lines in France which had seemed im pregnable for more than three years. The
outstanding feature of the American armies was the superb personal courage of the private soldier and the splendid self-sacrificing leader ship of the young line officers most of whom had never worn a uniform before 1917. The regular army divisions fought magnificently but were neither braver nor more efficient than the National Guard divisions. The regulars were transported to France very soon after the United States entered the war but it was found necessary to give them a long course of train ing in the interior before they were capable of entering front line sectors. It was a valuable if humiliating lesson learned by our artillery when they found that our boasted three-inch field piece was utterly useless in modern war. The professional artillerist ought to have known that before hundreds of useless guns of this type were shipped to France in transports where every cubic foot was needed for useful material. The magnificent advance of our infantry in September and October 1918 was made possible because the French army furnished our artillery service with their incomparable “soixante quinze capable of laying down a rolling barrage in front of advancing troops which would have been absolutely impossible for our own corre sponding gun.
Likewise were our armies indebted for areoplanes to their allies both French and English.
It was unfortunate that difficulties of lan guage led our staff at first to arrange for the instruction of our officers in France by British rather than French corps of instructors. The British had fought magnificently for four years but they had not solved the problem of trench warfare and the errors of their system brought the cause of the allies to the verge of disaster in the spring of 1918. After General Foch asswned the supreme command and the tide of defeat turned into victory the superiority of the French method was generally acknowledged. The American commander, General Pershing, co-ordinated his plans with the French when the American armies entered the great offensive and every detail worked splendidly.
In France the general headquarters of the American armies was located at Chaumont while the subordinate headquarters bf the serv ices of administration and supply were at Blois and Tours. The ports used in the enormous transport of troops and supplies were Brest, Sainte Nazaire, La Pallice and Bordeaux. A large number of American troops were landed in England and thence transported to France. So vast were the preparations in France that the arrangements were found in every way adequate for the handling of the 2,000,000 soldiers and their supplies. The arrangements at the ports and along the railway lines included every facility for handling and caring for a still larger force if the war had continued into 1919 as was generally anticipated.