Preparations During Peace
Whether the operations be large or small, full preparations must be
made during peace. These preparations include first of all the drawing
up of plans through the study of political and military relations.
Then the operations can be carried out under international
jurisdiction, avoiding thereby any disturbances of importance. The
possibilities of friction must be given careful thought.
First of all, a base for prospective operations must be determined by
exhaustive investigations as to landings that may be suitable. While
the first inquiries are made by naval officers, they can only be
completed by army officers. The following essential points must be
kept in view in searches made by naval officers:
I. To determine the naval strength required for protection of the
transport fleet and to settle the question of communication with home
II. To decide upon proper and specific points on the respective
coasts, from a marine standpoint.
III. To investigate all harbor facilities for the disembarking of the
troops, and to ascertain the number and size of ships the harbor will
admit so as to insure the protection of the land and sea flank.
IV. To study the enemy's coast defenses and decide upon the strength
required to attack them.
The researches of the army officers concern principally the following:
I. The aim of the operations is to overcome the obstacles as reported
by the naval officers.
II. The number of troops which the opponents can muster against the
invasion should be estimated.
III. All questions as to climate, water supply, and equipment
necessary should be decided.
All this information has been shown to be of distinct value, and
perhaps would cause us to alter, within the next year, the disposition
of the line of battle in case of war. Through a well ordered
intelligence department definite plans can be made.
Regarding operations which require troops fitted for tropical service,
capable officers and forces should be reviewed and inspected during
times of peace and made note of accordingly. The division would make a
suitable unit for large operations and could be formed from different
army corps. These divisions should be so equipped that they could
operate independently in customary situations. Fuller preparations
should be made for the sending of heavy artillery, the telegraph and
airship divisions. These formations would be important problems during
the voyage at sea. An especially skilled staff is needed. To this end,
loading transports and landing maneuvers for the heavy artillery and
other heavy divisions should take place annually in suitable harbors
on coasts that present the right opportunities for the troops. An
enlarged command of officers and subordinate officers would show
sufficient strength in a relatively short time. Incidentally it might
be possible to have these maneuvers take place in our foreign
possessions, where we could better determine the actual needs of
operations of this sort. This training would bring forth the simplest
and best means for the adjustment of our merchant marine for
transporting troops. All other expedients for the voyage would
likewise be shown. Some of this needed experience has already been
acquired through our expedition to China.
Just as a detailed plan of mobilization is required for any war on
land, a complete plan is necessary for operations over the sea which
embraces also the railway trip to the harbor and the rapid execution
of the tasks involved in embarking. On account of limited facilities
only one division can be handled on a railroad. The necessity for
transfer by wagons to the ships requires enlarged railway stations and
piers in many places. Furthermore, many different supply depots must
be built and maintained. In these depots building material should be
held in reserve for the alterations that are needed for the
transformation of the merchant ships into transports. All other
apparatus for successful transporting, such as extra lifting
contrivances, flat-bottom boats, gang planks, and so forth, should be
stored in advance. Usually, these adjuncts are lacking in the merchant
marine. Light railroad rolling stock for use in the tropics or in
difficult land conditions is also recommended.
In addition to these supply depots there must be in all harbors large
warehouses containing clothing, food and coal. The small requirements
of our transport to China did not emphasize sufficiently the value of
advance preparations, but it is evident that within a few days over
one hundred steamers should be provided with such accommodations. To
do this in an emergency would require too much time aside from the
difficulty that might be encountered in securing skilled labor.
For long distance transportation our large harbors on the North and
East seas can be utilized equally well for embarkation. Speed is the
chief requisite. In order to lessen the distance of transporting,
operations toward the west must be conducted from the North Sea ports
and toward the east from our east sea ports. This does not preclude
the possibility of towing the transports from the east sea through the
Kaiser Wilhelm Canal to the North Sea should it be found desirable,
but it would involve a waste of time. The smaller harbors should not
be used for embarking for large enterprises because they lack the
necessary facilities. They might be utilized to advantage in a smaller
way, provided sufficient means were at hand to take care of one
division a day. Especially suitable harbors on the North Sea are
Emden, Wilhelmshaven and Bremerhaven, in connection with Bremen, and
Cuxhaven with Hamburg and Glueckstadt. These are the harbors that
should have complete preparations made for possible expeditions.
Bremerhaven is by far the best. In every respect it would take first
place for embarkation, because of its extensive wharfs. From this
point two or more divisions could be shipped daily without difficulty.
Cuxhaven is not so well situated, but its connection with Hamburg is
important. If it were brought up to full development it could take
care of two divisions a day which Hamburg could well supply.
Glueckstadt is an especially important base because most of our live
stock exporting business is carried on there. It is recommended that a
short double-track railroad be built from Elmshorn to Glueckstadt,
making a connection with the reserve corps frontier. In Glueckstadt one
infantry division and part of a cavalry division can be shipped.
In Wilhelmshaven all the essential features are at hand, but it is
doubtful whether, in view of simultaneous mobilization of the fleet,
this place can be chosen for the embarkation of land troops. In any
event, it would be necessary to enlarge the harbor buildings. The
railroad facilities would also have to be increased.
While Emden is favorably situated, an examination discloses many
drawbacks. It needs better dock facilities and railroads to bring it
up to standard and in order to relieve the extensive shipping of
troops at Wilhelmshaven. Under existing circumstances Leer and
Papenburg could be used for transporting purposes, and these two with
Emden could handle one division.
The situation on the Baltic Sea is peculiarly unfavorable, no harbor,
with the exception of Kiel, being deep enough to accommodate our
larger steamships. At Danzig the dredging of navigable waters and
extension of docks should be planned, which are of great importance
from a military standpoint. The other smaller ports on the Baltic are
at present not suitable for transporting troops.
The Kiel harbor could not be utilized for the loading of large
transports because of the same conditions that affect Wilhelmshaven,
namely, the delay that might hinder the rapid mobilizing of the fleet,
which would not be permitted. The docks at Kiel must therefore be
greatly enlarged so that they could thoroughly satisfy simultaneously
the demands of the battle and transport fleets. Pillau and Swinemuende
should be authorized to extend their very small docks. On the other
hand, the large dry docks in Danzig, Stettin and Kiel should be in a
position, within the shortest possible time, to provide the necessary
buildings for transporting, if the materials and warehouses are
Of the greatest importance in operations over the sea is the provision
of the proper number of ships. Defects in preparations in time of
peace would hinder successful execution and would give the enemy time
to take the necessary precautions to oppose an invasion. Yet it should
be stated that England, at the outbreak of the Boer, although lacking
full preparation during peace, in the course of a few weeks procured
the required number of ships for the first shipment.
The problem of ship control would at best fall to the loading
commission, which should be settled upon as an established authority
to make a comprehensive survey and appraise the German steamers for
military transporting. This commission should also list the
foreign-owned steamers which might be available in the harbors for use
in emergencies. Through close commercial relations this control can be
extended to neighboring foreign ports (Amsterdam, Rotterdam,
Copenhagen) to the end that we might charter several large foreign
The construction of stables for horses on our commercial ships would
cause delay, as we have pointed out previously. It would seem
advantageous to have our subsidized steamship companies to build
several ships which can be quickly adjusted for shipping horses. This
ought to be an easy matter with ships used for shipping cattle. The
Hamburg-American Line, it is known, will readily provide such a ship.
The management of the transport depots and the training of the
dry-dock and harbor personnel would obviously fall to the loading
commission. In a similar way, the navy would be permitted to divide
the sea-fighting strength, in the event of mobilization, into a fleet
of warships and an escort for the transport fleet, assuring effective
protection and a fighting force equal in rank to the enemy.
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