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Views On Colonial Expeditions

All operations for colonial expeditions can be undertaken successfully

because of the small forces necessary to transport over the sea to

make war upon a country which does not possess modern equipment and

trained troops. Just such an expedition was unostentatiously carried

out in China before our own eyes.

The sending of an expedition to East Asia affords an interesting

example of what can be done. Witho
t resistance we have set up

governments at a distance from the home country. It is possible with

the aid of the fleet to secure similar results. However, there are

many obstacles to be overcome. It is imperative that in time of peace

we should prepare in every possible way for war in foreign lands

which have any commercial value for us. Inasmuch as the German army

has determined upon larger divisions of troops, the problems of

operations on the distant sea falls to the navy. In the future the

conducting of such operations will rest with the General Staff. It

will be necessary to continue the preparations, described fully in the

forepart of this book, for the carrying out of operations against such

countries as Asia, Africa and South America. Good judgment must be

used in the selection of methods. The execution of the first

operations would require the constantly combined efforts of the

General Staff and the Admiral Staff.

Our excellent knowledge of East Asia has given us the necessary

technical preparation in the way of equipment. The chartering of

transport ships for service to China should not be difficult in

consequence of the large size of the expedition. The expedition corps

would require eighteen ships, material and supplies would take five.

The greater part of this number would be amply supplied by our two

large steamship companies, the North German Lloyd and the

Hamburg-American Line. The charter of these steamship companies

provides for their use as transports if needed for expeditions of this

sort. The disadvantages of this arrangement once appeared in the delay

through a labor strike, when it was necessary to transport part of the

unfinished ships to Wilhelmshaven. Another drawback is that not enough

room is provided in these ships. On the steamers of the

Hamburg-American Line, for example, only sixty-five per cent. of their

normal passenger capacity can be utilized for troops which means at

the most an approximate displacement of three net tons, so that only

one man instead of two can be carried. An adjustment should be reached

to the end that the entire freight capacity of the steamers could be

counted upon.

The interior arrangements of a steamer to be used for troop transport

must be planned according to law. Fire-extinguishers, life-saving

apparatus and other necessities must be provided for; numerous tables

and benches which can be drawn up to the ceiling should be in the

troops rooms, and should also be found up on deck. Hospital

arrangements for two and one-half per cent. of the transport strength

should be provided.

The active troops of the expedition corps are at present drawn from

volunteers, the reserve and the militia, and grouped in new

formations. Through this the home defenses may be benefited, but the

expedition corps would not be up to standard, even though the newly

formed troops would have sufficient time to concentrate. It is

advisable for such an expedition to employ active, well-trained

soldiers for the main part, while the balance could be made up of

reserves. It is also to be recommended that in the near future we form

a fixed body of troops trained for hospital service. Such a formation

would have great intrinsic worth.

A few words should be said about the organizing of a Colonial army,

which would be called upon to play an essential part in German

military operations over the sea. It would be of extraordinary value

in preserving order in our colonies and would also be of assistance in

commercial aims. The Colonial army would constitute a picked body of

men, suitable for service in hot climates and uncivilized countries,

who would be able to fight effectively against colonies with which we

might be at war.

There would still remain, however, the need of preparation of our home

forces for colonial expeditions. We are not assured at present of the

assembling of the necessary number of qualified troops without drawing

on our regular army.

It requires a good deal of time to procure the equipment for an

expedition to East Asia. Therefore, contracts with capable firms

should be made, to make delivery in the shortest possible time.

While the equipment of the infantry with up-to-date weapons is easily

accomplished, it is noteworthy that only about thirty horses can be

loaded by the English system. Some effort should be made to solve the

horse problem. The purchasing of horses in Australia, America and

South China has ceased, in consequence of the knowledge that only a

small percentage can withstand the change of climate.

It would be impossible to employ joint cavalry forces, due to lack of

mounts. It is imperative to find the means for forming a mounted

infantry, for there is an insufficient number of advanced cavalry

troops to meet an emergency. It would be advantageous if large

brigades now idle could be moved for operations in Eastern China. Past

experience in China has emphasized the great importance of cavalry for

operations in large countries.

The losses in newly purchased horses would be greater than if we would

send trained horses accustomed to military service. The great loss in

transporting horses is no longer to be feared. The experience of the

English in transporting horses to Cape Town proves the worth of their

loading system. And it should be pointed out that the Prussian

horses, through their training, can endure climatic changes and the

hardships of sea transportation much better than the English horses.

The thirty horses on the transport must be well taken care of to reach

East Asia. The ships should be fitted out with this aim in view.

Accidents usually occur in crossing the equator. The Red Sea and the

Indian Ocean are especially difficult to cross. This could be overcome

by sending the transport by way of Cape Town, where a part of the trip

could be made south through the Tropic of Cancer. It has been

demonstrated that horses not older than from ten to sixteen years

should be selected for service abroad. No fear need be felt as to the

feeding of the horses, for our horses are accustomed to little corn.

Sometimes feedings of soaked rice with molasses added have given

favorable results.

A possible help for the outfitting of the artillery would be the

purchasing in Italy of native mules and loading them at Genoa. In

English sea-transporting these animals have demonstrated their

exceptional powers of resistance. They are preferable to horses

because they can endure hardships better and can more easily be

accustomed to conditions in East Asia.

While we have a large variety of artillery, our expedition corps must

be equipped with mountain guns which can be carried by beasts of

burden. This is often necessary in colonial expeditions. Experience

shows that it is difficult to move the heavy artillery of the field

army over bad roads, and the large guns would not get very far. This

is true also of the steel-boat bridge trains. It is surprising that

our collapsible boats, universally approved as superior, are not


Our military arrangements have not included a suitable hospital

service, because the ambulances are too heavy and unwieldy. The French

seem to have been afforded very good service by the so-called

cacolets--saddle horses with pack saddles for the sick and wounded.

These are excellent for use in colonial countries. A light wagon model

is generally recommended for supplies, for despite the condition of

the roads they must be able to follow the troops.

It is a question how the unfavorable conditions of communication with

our men-of-war can be improved. Once the forces and supplies are in

Bremen and Bremerhaven no difficulties would be found in embarking.

For the future a central place is recommended from which the

expedition corps can sail.

If thorough preparations are made the loading of the transports can

be accomplished in two or three days; by the old method of loading it

took two days for each ship. To facilitate the work, the loading

should be done simultaneously on both sides of the steamer. The

greater part of the supplies can be brought by tugs from Bremen to

Bremerhaven. The troops can consequently embark at Quai in about four

hours. The vessels, which have been arranged to utilize all available

space, can also carry all accouterments, ammunition and supplies.

Great delay and inconvenience might be caused by not accurately

calculating the massive proportions of the military shipment. It is

therefore above all argument that the military authorities and not the

steamship company should oversee the loading so that it would be done

properly from a military standpoint. Through a haphazard loading, the

detached troops might not go in the same boat with their belongings,

and they might not even know where their individual effects were

stowed. Disembarking would be difficult and delayed, causing the

forces to wait a long time for the unloading of their guns and


With regard to the sea voyage, it is very advantageous for us that the

sailing of the joint fleet is not required. The trip by transport

would take from forty-two to fifty-seven days. The trip from Shanghai

to Taku can be made successfully with the aid of our battle fleet. The

transports should sail without artillery equipment, so that no

difficulty would be experienced in getting letters-of-marque; but if

they could have on deck even a small amount of the guns which they

have on board, they would have nothing to fear from privateers or

auxiliary cruisers. Upon arrival at Taku, considerable difficulties

might be encountered, for it is reported that it is practically

impossible to procure the extra help needed.

Considering a landing at Tsingtau, it should be noted that there has

not been provided a sufficient number of disembarking boats. This

situation proves that under all circumstances the troop transport must

be equipped independently to land its troops and supplies.

Experience has taught us that a great deal of preparation is necessary

to undertake colonial expeditions and it behooves us now to lay a

foundation for future operations over the sea.