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 opponents 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.

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