We are not a military nation, and we probably never will be. It is a fact too well known to the Service to need to be demonstrated that our wars in the past have been prolonged, if not actually caused, by our failure to grasp military situations. President Wilson in his writings, has referred to the War of 1812 as a conflict of arms brought on by a program of peace. Our ultimate complete or partial success in these conflicts has blinded us to the enormous toll in blood and treasure with which these results, such as they were, have been purchased. We have always relied on a system of volunteers to do the work of trained military forces, and trusted more to the spirit of our people and the justice of our cause, as we saw it, than to military skill and preparedness. Ghastly as have been the results of this "system" on land, it must be said that on sea we have so far found it eminently successful. The splendid pages in our naval history have, almost without exception, been written by men who were trained for their work outside the naval service. The secret of this is easy to discover. The men who entered the navy from the merchant service were men who were thoroughly familiar with their duties, in sad contrast to the raw militia and volunteers on land. These reserves for our naval forces were taken almost wholly from our merchant marine. Many seamen served alternate cruises in the navy and in the merchant service. The ships of the two services differed little in -construction or rig. By far the most important duties of both officers and men were those connected with seamanship, and these duties could be learned as well in one service as in the other. Gunnery was a most elementary art, and even this could be learned in the seagoing merchant ship, as most of these were armed, and some quite heavily. In fact, the work of the navy and of the merchant service was so closely allied that merchant ships were fitted out as privateers and frequently met and captured men-o'-war of greater size. To give a list of naval officers who received at least part of their training in the merchant service would be to name practically every well-known naval hero from the days of Paul Jones down to the period of the Spanish War, and a great many more, too. Even the advent of steam did not materially change these conditions.
To-day, however, all this is a thing of the past. The two points which make the reliance on a reserve from the merchant service a slender reed on which to lean in war time are, first, that we have practically no seagoing merchant marine to-day, and second, that it would be of little military value if we did have it. It is needless to point out that seamanship, as it is understood by the merchantman, plays but a small role in the duties of the modern navy. The latter has become a highly specialized profession, and is no more related to the merchant service, just because both follow the sea, than is railroading or engineering related to the army, because both are ashore.
The fact that the navy must look to some new source besides the merchant service to supply its depleted ranks in time of war was recognized as far back as 25 years ago, and state naval militias were formed in many of the coast and lake cities. The worth of these organizations was demonstrated in the Spanish War, when they supplied the navy with about 3400 officers and men, and manned in whole or in part, 20 vessels. The splendid showing made by most of these organizations in the war gave renewed vigor to the movement, and resulted in more states forming naval militias and in a general increase in numbers and efficiency. But the Spanish War had demonstrated not only how valuable the militia might be made, but also its weaknesses under the system as it then existed. To improve conditions in the land forces, the so-called Dick Bill was passed. Encouraged by the success of this measure, the Navy Department succeeded in having Congress enact a similar measure for the benefit of the naval militia. This act was signed February 16, 1914, and provides that certain sums be appropriated for arms, uniforms, equipment, etc., for the naval militia; it provides for a certain amount of training with the fleet each year, and for pay while under this training; it authorizes the loaning of certain vessels of the navy to the militia for purposes of instruction; and provides for the detailing of officers as inspector- instructors. To receive the benefits of this bill, organizations are required to come up to a certain standard set by the department, and they are given three years from the passage of the bill to come up to the mark. It is certain that no organization can exist without this aid, so the deplorable lack of uniformity and failure to reach a common standard, which has so handicapped the militia in the past, cannot obtain much longer. While some organizations, favorably situated, and aided by wise and liberal state administrations, have, by their own efforts, attained a really high state of efficiency, it must be frankly admitted that others are not so efficient. By the terms of the Naval Militia Act, these organizations, good, bad, and indifferent, become in reality a part of the naval service. Their efficiency is not solely a matter of local concern, but is, or should be, a matter of interest to the whole Service. As any officer in the navy may be called upon to perform duty with the militia, in peace or war; as the navy is deplorably short of men, on a war footing; as the. naval militia is to-day the only existing reserve on which the navy may depend to make good this shortage; it becomes the duty of every officer of the navy and of the militia to devote attention to the problem of how this important auxiliary branch of the navy is to be made more valuable to the nation.
It is necessary first to consider the need for an auxiliary naval force. Three naval officers, with all the data available at their disposal, recently estimated the shortage of the navy in enlisted men. One made it 50,000, and the other two, each working independently, made the shortage 55,000. The lowest estimate of the shortage, made by competent authority, is 30,000, and this does not take into account the men needed to fill vacancies caused by casualties, or for extra men needed for new recruiting parties and other shore details in war time, etc. On October 1, 1915, the Atlantic battleship fleet alone was 5600 men short of war strength, an average shortage of about 250 per ship, or over 25 per cent of full complement, while the vessels in commission in the whole Atlantic fleet were about 7800 men short. In regard to officers the conditions are quite as alarming. It has been estimated that if it were possible to commission all our ships on a war basis, and to send every line officer on the active list, commissioned and war rant, to sea, we would still be some thousand officers short, not counting the shortage at the shore stations, which would be swept clean of officers. Whatever the exact shortage may be, and however it may be calculated, the fact remains that the Service and the country are facing a very serious condition, which must be squarely met. It would be a physical impossibility to-day to commission the reserve ships or to put the fleet on a war footing. Congress undoubtedly will seek to remedy this condition to a moderate extent, but it must be borne in mind that an increase of say, 6000 men would only be just enough to fill the vacancies on the battleships which we now have in commission, and these men could not be available inside of many months at the least. No great naval power keeps all its ships on a war footing in time of peace, and it is idle to hope that we will ever do it. So whatever increase in officers and men may be allowed, we may rest assured that there will still be a very material shortage on a war basis. It is true that this condition exists with the other great naval powers, but we differ from them in one important respect. Realizing that they could not keep on a war footing at all times, they have, without exception, turned their attention to the very important subject of a naval reserve. Great Britain had a reserve of about 140,000 trained officers and men at the outbreak of the present war, while Germany had about 100,000. The exact figures for the other powers are not available, but it has been estimated that in each case the reserve was about equal in numbers to the regular forces. Our awn organized reserve consists of about 600 officers, and about 7900 enlisted men, of varying degrees of efficiency. For the reasons previously given, our merchant service, which has stood the navy in such good stead so many times in the past, no longer has the importance which once attached to it as an auxiliary naval force; so it behooves us to find some new and adequate reserve. Whatever the future may bring forth, there is at present but one organized reserve, and this is the naval militia. How this may be increased in numbers, efficiency, and value to the country, is the subject of this paper.
No progress in the solution of this problem can be made unless two things be kept clearly in mind—the capabilities as well as the limitations of the militia. One is as important as the other, and neither can be too strongly emphasized.
It is too self-evident to require demonstration that the training of the naval militia cannot progress along logical lines unless the object of the training be in plain view—in other words, unless there be an estimate of the situation. It is startling, but true, that for the 25 years during which the naval militia has been existent, such an estimate has never been made, or if it has, it has been kept a profound secret. No comprehensive, logical, plan for the employment of the naval militia in time of war has ever been promulgated and I repeat, that unless we know exactly what the goal be, we will go far afield in our endeavor to reach it. This point is most strikingly illustrated by the general supposition, by people who have never given the problem intelligent study, that what is good and logical for the navy must be good for the militia. In other words, that the militia is to be a little junior navy, paralleling in all possible ways the doings and drills of the older service. Nothing is more fundamentally wrong, and the sooner this idea be dropped the better for all hands. The navy has its purposes: it is the function of the naval militia to aid the navy in accomplishing these purposes, and not to attempt the accomplishment itself. The clearest example of this fallacy is found in connection with target practice. Undoubtedly the only raison d'être for a navy is to hit the enemy as rapidly as practicable, with the least expenditure of ammunition. It is not the function of the naval militia to do this: its function is to help the navy hit the enemy. This is the problem, undoubtedly. How best may it be solved? First consider the limitations and capabilities of the militia in this respect. I shall attempt to show later on that if every available minute of drill time were utilized in training gun-pointers and crews, that the militia still could not hope to compete with the navy in gunnery. And, of course, no one for a minute would suggest devoting all available time to this one subject. Also, the only practical way to train gun-pointers is with the check-telescope in the open sea, with the natural roll of the ship. This method is not available for the militiaman except for brief periods during the summer, and even then I believe his time could be better employed. I don't mean to say that, now and then, a good pointer is not found in the militia, but their very rarity shows that they are the exceptional cases, and not the product of the training. When such natural gun-pointers are available, by all means utilize them, but don't make gunnery the alpha and omega of the militiaman's training. Even if it were possible to develop good gun-pointers and trained crews without neglecting more important work (and I don't believe for a moment that it is possible), still I believe the training would be largely unproductive, because the cases where naval militiamen will be assigned as gun-pointers on fighting vessels in time of war will constitute such rare exceptions that they may be neglected in any general scheme of training. Here again the lack of a definite policy is felt.
Then there comes the question of convenience. The whole itinerary of the summer cruise, which is brief enough at the best, is made to depend on a time and above all on a place where target practice may be held. This almost invariably so circumscribes the movements of the cruising ship that the interest in the cruise is lessened. Tangier Sound and Gardiner's Bay are not the most interesting places on the map. If new and interesting places can be visited, the enthusiasm for the cruise can be enormously increased, with corresponding gain in spirit, attendance, and results. Then again, an interesting cruise is the best possible means of recruiting, while a dull one has the reverse effect. This effect, either way, is increased with a knowledge that the department is going to follow one course or the other. I am well aware that people are apt to reply to this, that the cruise is intended for work and instruction, and not as a junket. Perfectly true; but it must be borne in mind that a great majority of militiamen give up their only vacation of the year to make the cruise. They don't object to work, but if can be sugar-coated. If the itinerary is well planned, and the instruction is given by competent, patient instructors, with an insight into what they are driving at, the cruise will be a success, the men will want to go again, and they will get their friends to enlist and go next year. If the cruise be otherwise, the men simply will not re-enlist, and they will not get their friends to enlist. The fact that all recruiting is dependent on the enlisted men in each division is a point never to be lost sight of by the naval officer. It is a condition he does not have to face, and rarely considers. But to return to the subject. Holding target practice during the cruise undoubtedly limits the itinerary, and frequently spoils the effect of the cruise. Some good may come of it, but this in no way equals the benefits lost.
There is even a worse aspect to target practice than those already touched on. Everyone in the navy knows that for a period of at least two weeks—generally more—preceding target practice, the whole ship is turned topsy-turvy. For a few days she is" mad." Now imagine putting a green crew aboard ship, and putting to sea the same day, and attempting to hold target practice within a week or ten days at the most. When the crew is composed of militia officers and men, to whom ship life is necessarily strange, and is accompanied by a nucleus of men hastily gathered from a dozen ships, generally disgruntled, unfamiliar with their new ship, and taking no interest in her, as they expect and hope soon to return to their own ships, can you picture the results? No, you can't, unless you have seen it, as I have. At the best it is a mere travesty on target practice; at the worst, . . . . When you consider that the only glimpse most of these men get of naval life and conditions is under such circumstances, the marvel is that anyone ever wants to make a second cruise. Certainly the service appears in the worst possible light. On these federal cruises, every effort should be made to whip the raw material into shape and keep it there. This is vastly more important than chasing will-o'-the-wisps in the guise of targets.
Another field in which the attempt to force a false analogy between the navy and the militia is found in the instructions of officers. In the navy, "amalgamation" of duties is an unqualified success. Every officer is liable to be detailed to engineering duties; a knowledge of electricity is essential; he will surely be a watch and division officer, have a battery or turret, and in time looks forward to being gunnery officer, navigator, executive, commanding officer and, finally, to fly his flag. Above all, he may be detailed to any one of these duties at a moment's notice, or he may be called upon to perform several of them at once on a small ship. Such is not the case with the militia officer (at least it should not be if we had a plan of action). Yet so little is this understood, that it was seriously considered making deck officers qualify in engineering, and vice versa, under the Naval Militia Act. I can say, without hesitation, that had such provision been adhered to, it would have been fatal to the naval militia; yet the same failure to grasp the fundamental differences of the services is illustrated, though in a less vicious form, in the requirements for navigation. If we will frankly estimate the situation, it must be admitted that the number of militia officers who will be called upon to use astronomical navigation in time of war almost reaches the vanishing point. The average junior officer of the navy is of necessity much more expert in the knowledge of this science and the practice of the art than any but the exceptional militia officer can hope to be. Here and there will be found an officer who, by education and taste, has developed into a thoroughly competent navigator, but it has been entirely through his own efforts, and not through any system of general training. Such men should be encouraged and given every possible assistance. But to require the average officer to attain an equal degree of proficiency is pure waste of time. It is worse than that! An officer will give just so much time to the naval militia, and then he reaches his elastic limit. If he be required to put in a lot of time at navigation (which he probably detests), just so much time is being taken from work which there is a good probability he will be required to perform, and which he is by nature and education fitted to perform. In other words, the militia officer must be a specialist to the last degree to be good at anything. If you try to teach him too much, he will learn nothing well, and a good militiaman will be spoiled to make a poor navalman. A naval militia officer can be taught to perform any one duty quite as well as the average naval officer. Of this I am quite certain. He can rarely be taught more than one duty thoroughly. Of course, there are exceptional officers, but no general scheme of instruction can be based on them. The problem then becomes: Make up your mind what jobs are to be filled by naval militiamen, and train each man to fill one of these jobs, and then leave him at that job. Next, sort out the square pegs from the round pegs, and put each in the hole where it fits. In other words, don't take the chap with a bent for navigation, and who may not be very forceful, and assign him to a watch and division, while at the same time an officer who is a born leader of men, but has not had a college education, is made navigator, when he detests navigation. And when a man is once assigned to his job, don't disturb him unless he be clearly the man for the new job. Two or three officers who are skilled in astronomical navigation are of much more value for navigational purposes to an organization, than are 20 officers each with but a smattering of it. It must be remembered that with the time at your disposal you can teach an officer just so much, and no more. Why not concentrate on the work in which he is interested and which he can learn creditably? Simple as this seems, it is rarely grasped by either the naval officer or the militiaman. Each new inspector-instructor starts a class in navigation (Is it because it is easy for him to teach this subject?) and each ship's captain demands particular attention to the watch officers' work in navigation, regardless of how much his division may need his attention. It is to be noted that the above strictures apply solely to astronomical navigation. Every watch officer should be familiar with coasting and piloting, and with the rules of the road, of course. They are part of his duties as a deck officer. Astronomy is not.
I touch on these two subjects, gunnery and astronomical navigation, merely to illustrate how far afield one may go in stretching too far the analogy between the navy and the militia, or in assuming a unity of purpose where none exists in fact. Similar examples of energy directed in unprofitable channels might be given, but the two cited are sufficient to illustrate the point. This point is that the raw material at our disposal in the form of militiamen has never been properly assayed, by either a quantitative or qualitative test. Next, that without such an estimate of the material at hand, no comprehensive and logical scheme for using the material is possible. Lastly, until a definite and practical plan for employing the militia is promulgated, no logical scheme for instructing the militia is possible, as it is not known for what we are to prepare.
How may all this be remedied? First of all, what raw material have we to work with? The average naval militiaman can be made to attend 30 drills, or, say, 6o hours of instruction on shore, each year. For several reasons, which do not apply to the navy, an apparently inordinate proportion of this time must be given to infantry and similar drills. In the first place, each organization must do its own recruiting, or cease to exist. To get in new members, it must be known. It must appear in local parades and functions. On such occasions it is compared with national guard organizations in its appearance and "smartness." So long as organizations are judged by the straightness of their lines, and the trim of their pieces, just so long must care be given to these matters. Illogical, perhaps, but true, and not to be overlooked. Then, reviews must be held at local armories, when fathers and mothers, and best girls, and prospective recruits with their sisters and cousins and aunts, can come and watch the drills and dance. You may call this unmilitary, and it is. But the militiaman must be paid in one form or another. Unless the state be prepared to pay him money, he must be given some other return for, the long winter evenings which he puts in at drill after a hard day's work, frequently when he would rather be some place else. Then again, the naval militia is primarily a state organization, and liable at any time to state service. This latter is apt to be on shore, and so a certain amount of infantry, machine gun, and riot drill is essential. But above all, some form of close order, shoulder-to-shoulder formation—call it by what name you will—has been proved to be the best method of converting an armed mob into a military body. Some such drill is a necessary prelude to the periods of instruction on shore, in order to get men's minds in a military frame. The officers must learn to command, and the men to obey. The former must be taught to give their orders with a tone of authority, and to give precisely the correct order, with no variations. The men must be taught to obey an order instinctively, without question or hesitation, and in an exact, prescribed manner, with no embellishments of their own. This can best be taught by ipfantry, artillery, and setting-up drill. The drills are merely the means to the end, and must not be confounded with the end itself. The end, as said before, is to produce a military organization whose mind and body work as a military machine. On shipboard where you have the men under you for 24 hours a day, all year long, and where military discipline is felt, actually or potentially, in all the little commonplaces of life, the importance of the above is not manifest. But where men come from an office and from their homes to drill but once a week, different methods are required. The above but briefly sketches the necessity for military drill in the militia. I think that I am on the safe side in estimating that not less than one third of the drill time, or say 40 minutes a night, is the least that can be given to this important subject. (Remember, about a third of your men are always rookies.) This leaves about forty hours a season for instruction in all other subjects. The average term of service is about three years. How can this time be utilized to the best advantage? This is the great problem. To solve it, one must keep constantly in mind the limitations of the naval militiaman in order to see his possibilities. It is obvious that a finished man-o'-wars-man cannot be turned out in this time in the average case (which is all we are dealing with). The sooner this truth is driven home the better; for I believe that nothing has kept the militia from "finding" itself so much as the failure to recognize this point, and thus striving for the unattainable. It is an even greater mistake to go to the other extreme and assume that nothing of value can be made of the material in the time available. If the naval militia aims to turn out several thousand men who are uniformed, organized, armed, equipped, grounded in naval discipline, familiar with the fundamentals of the naval profession, and available for service in 24 hours, it will more than earn the money appropriated for it by Congress. But this is just what the naval training stations aim to do. Exactly, and I believe that the two ends should be identical, except in some minor features to be noted later on. If the navy had a reserve of several thousand lads just out of the training station, available at a moment's notice, the value of this reserve would be apparent at once. The naval militia can furnish just such a reserve. To aim higher is to spoil a very valuable militiaman to make a poor bluejacket. If this be the logical role of the militia, and I am fully convinced that it is, it would be well to study the methods used at the training stations. The raw recruits of the navy and of the militia do not differ materially as to age and intelligence. The total periods of instruction for an average militiaman during his enlistment about equal those of the recruit at the training station for four months. The advantage of continuity of instruction in the latter case is balanced by the sum mer cruises of the militiaman. The instruction in each case is carried out largely ashore. The end to be attained is (or should be), the same in each case. Hence it is fairly safe to assume that the scope of instruction for the naval recruit is well suited for the militiaman. I believe this to be an accurate conclusion, proved by theory and practice. It is interesting to note that at the training station, no attempt is made to train gun-pointers and gun crews. It is realized that the proper place for this is in the fleet. The truth of this is not modified by the fact that if a great deal of time were given to this training, some good pointers would be discovered, rather than trained. Too bad this fact cannot be recognized in the militia, where there are many reasons which make it even more pertinent. It is to be noted, too, that a great deal of time is given to infantry drill, artillery, setting-up, etc., at the training stations. The remainder of the time is given to teaching the men the rudimentary lessons of ship life. In the militia this can be done conveniently by dividing the drill period of two hours into three periods of 40 minutes each. For the first period have infantry, etc. The second and third should be given equally to ordnance and gunnery, and to seamanship. Under the latter heading, teach men such things as the various ranks and rates with their distinguishing marks; ship's organization, with the general duties of the various officers and petty officers; quarterdeck etiquette; the principles of the watch, quarter and station bill, and how to read a station billet; how to scrub, mark, stop, and stow clothes; how to lash and stow hammocks; the duties of a messenger, orderly, side-cleaner, look-out on the various posts, both day and night; ship routine, including to whom to go for various things; marline spike seamanship; use of hand and deep-sea lead; types of boats; parts of boats and their equipment; how to handle a boat under oars or sail, and names of the gear; boat sails; anchor gear and ground tackle; systems of signals; duties of steersman, and of man on speed cones, telegraphs, annunciators, speed light, etc.; and a thousand and one such things. Under ordnance and gunnery should come such things as a thorough course in the care and handling of the service rifle, and its use, down to and including the qualification of marksman at least; the general principals of the construction of a naval broadside gun and mount, and the nomenclature of the parts; the duties of each man at "Cast loose and provide!", "secure!" and in handling and serving the piece: the kinds of guns, ammunition, primers, etc., in use in the navy; a more thorough knowledge of such machine gun as is furnished the organization; a small amount of drill to illustrate the principles of training with the dotter, morris tube, and check telescope; instruction in the methods and objects of the various classes of target practice. I can assure the reader that if this instruction be given conscientiously there will be little time left for the "higher education" of the average militiaman. On the other hand, this work can be easily assimilated, and it can be made very interesting. It is useless to teach youngsters to run before they can walk. This work can be driven home, and supplemented by instruction in the emergency and general ship drills, in the short cruises during the summer, on vessels loaned to the organizations. By the time the men are ready to go for their "federal cruise," they should be able to make a very creditable showing. Their shore instruction, amplified by a total of about a month at sea should turn out a man who, at the end of his enlistment, is the equal, if not the superior, of the product of the training station. If this be accomplished, the militia has fulfilled its greatest duty to the federal government. If not, then it has failed to grasp its opportunities.
There is one feature only in which the analogy between the work of the militia and of the training station fails. With the latter, the officers and petty officers who act as instructors are trained in the Service, while the militia has to develop its own leading men.
As I said before, the average militiaman will drill for thirty weeks a year, for about three years. But there are a number of enthusiasts—a surprisingly large number—who will give up more than one night a week, and who will remain in the service many years. From these men petty officers are developed, and from the pick of these, the officers are taken. The scope of instruction outlined above, of course, does not apply to these men. It would be useless here to attempt to lay down any scheme of instruction for petty officers, as the conditions vary so with each organization. Suffice it is to say that their work begins where the seaman's stops, and is an amplification and specialization of the latter.
In regard to the officers' instruction, I can only repeat what I said before. It is hopeless to train officers to be expert spotters, navigators, etc. The service is not looking for such highly technical men. I don't mean to say that some militia officers cannot, or do not, become extremely proficient in almost any branch of the naval profession. What I do mean, and most emphatically, is that it is bad business to attempt to train the great body of officers in such duties. With the time and material available, they cannot generalize with any success, as naval officers do. But any officer can be taught one particular job, which he can perform as well as the average naval officer. There are hundreds of such jobs in the navy. Fill them in war with militiamen, and release your regulars for the more highly technical work. Size up each officer, and determine just what work he is best fitted for. Then concentrate on training him for just that work, and drop out all side issues and nonessentials. When an officer is qualified for any particular work, let this be noted on his record at Washington, and let him then and there be assigned to suitable and definite duties on a war slate, much as retired officers are now assigned. The names of such officers who have qualified for one or more classes of work might well be carried in the Navy Directory, with appropriate designations indicating the work in which they are qualified, and their mobilization detail. In this way an officer may know well in advance just what ship he will go to and what his duties will be on that ship. He can study up on the job, familiarize himself with the materiel under him, and I believe the results will be surprising.
All this presumes, however, that there is some definite plan as to how the militia is to be taken into the service. To the best of my knowledge and belief, no such plan exists and I have taken some pains to learn of any. At any rate, it is non-existent so far as the benefits which might be derived from foreknowledge of the jobs is concerned.
There are three general ways in which the militia may be taken into the naval service: (a) to fill up the complements of the reserve fleets; (b) to be taken in en masse as so many officers and men, and distributed through the fleet, either to fill vacancies or to release an equal number of regulars for other duties; (c) to man practically entirely small gunboats, small cruisers, auxiliaries, etc. It is useless to attempt to draw up a complete plan within the scope of this paper, and with the meager information at hand. In general, however, I can say that there are grave disadvantages to the first plan, although I am well aware that many capable officers favor it. The best that can be said for it is that there are very few militia organizations to-day which have reached such a state of proficiency that it would be safe to try the experiment with them. It is another example of the danger of aiming at the unattainable, and thereby spoiling excellent material which would be invaluable in other and lowlier fields of endeavor. The second plan—that of distributing the officers and men throughout the fleet —I much prefer. A hundred militiamen and half a dozen officers could be absorbed into the ship's company of any battleship in no time, and under the guidance and precept of experienced officers and petty officers, they would soon be among the best men on the ship. This could be accomplished without in any way lowering the efficiency of the ship. Beyond this number, I believe that the efficiency of the ship would be pulled down rather than that of the militia raised. It reaches the extreme in plan (a), where we have the blind leading the blind. The third plan has much merit, and would probably be the best way of employing organizations composed to a large extent of sea-faring men, who may be unfamiliar with naval life. The work on these small ships is more nautical than military, and could be very satisfactorily performed by such organizations.
It is probable that the best plan would be a combination of (a), (b), and (c), each organization being assigned to the duties best suited to it. It is probable also that there would have to be two or three alternative plans, depending on the disposition of the Fleet and the time for mobilization at the outbreak of hostilities, and on the magnitude of the war and the sea power of the enemy. For instance, a plan contemplating filling vacancies in the Atlantic Fleet would be impracticable if the Fleet were far distant from home waters. Similarly, organizations which would be needed afloat against one enemy might well be used for advance base work or for mining against another power. On actual or threatened war, the Department would simply telegraph the adjutant generals of the states to have the naval militia mobilize, plan (b), for instance, and the wheels would begin to turn without more ado. But at any rate, there should be some plan, so that the training could fit the men and officers to carry it out, instead of trying to prepare for any eventualities, as at present. For instance, if reserve battleships are to be manned, the particular ships should be assigned to particular organizations and, where practicable, should be stationed near those organizations for at least a few months each year, in order that all , hands may become familiar with their duties. The plan at the department should be quite general. For instance, such a battalion should be required to furnish officers and men to fill certain designated billets on a designated ship. The duty of keeping the watch, quarter and station bill up to date is then up to the organization itself. If it cannot do this, then the job of manning the ship is too big for it. There must be a militia doctrine, and a recognized sphere of discretion for subordinates. If the latter fall down, the scheme is too ambitious.
The lack of a doctrine, and a clear conception of the object in view is shown by the arrangements for the annual federal cruise. I have already attempted to show how the holding of target practice at such times completes the disintegration of a ship's company already demoralized, and prevents its "finding" itself. It also reduces the interest in the cruise by limiting the itinerary. This is but part of the trouble. I think that it will be agreed that the object of the cruise is purely to give instruction. As conducted at present, four-fifths of the division officers' time is taken up with administrative detail, all entirely necessary, but quite unproductive of results so far as the officer is concerned. It leaves him very little time for his own instruction. In addition to this, much confusion and loss of time results from the necessary unfamiliarity of the militia officer with the ship. Men are continually coming to him for information which the briefness of his time aboard prevents him from giving. As a result he must confess ignorance, or give wrong answers. The result is confusion, loss of time, or worse yet, loss of prestige on the part of the officer. The fault is with the "system," and not with the officer. The same is largely true with the petty officers. They are required to instruct and lead the men in work which of necessity is strange to them. In addition, .the instruction of the men is left almost entirely to the militia officers. This has two disadvantages. First, the officer is there to learn his own job, and not to teach other people theirs: second, as the ship's work is the side of the job on which the officer is weakest, he is apt to stay in familiar paths, and give the men very much the same instruction as they received on shore.
All these disadvantages could be easily overcome. First, realize that the cruise is designed for the instruction of both officers and men. Obviously the best instructors should come from the navy. Don't have men who are trying to learn and trying to teach at the same time. Have all the militia under instruction by people fitted to instruct, and who have nothing else to do. It is surprising how easily this can be accomplished. Send the militia captain, executive, and heads of all departments, on the practice ship, as at present, and pair each with a running-mate. In performing the regular duties of the office, each officer gets the best possible instruction. Send one militia junior officer with each division of militia, and send all other militia watch and division officers to battleships in the fleet. If the militia is worth anything at all, it is worth setting aside two weeks in the summer schedule of the fleet to be devoted primarily to the instruction of the militia officers. I don't mean to disrupt the fleet for this period, but simply to arrange a series of exercises and maneuvers from which the militiaman may obtain the maximum advantage. These officers are not to be put on junior O. D. watch, but are to be given entire charge of divisions, and of the deck, both at anchor and underway. The regular officer of the division and of the watch is to be present whenever necessary, to give' such advice and information as may be necessary but the militiaman is actually to run things. This has several advantages over having the militiamen cruise with their own organizations. First, and most important, the officer can give his entire time to his own instruction, under competent guidance, and is not distracted by giving instruction to others at the same time. Next in importance, he will see a ship of the navy upon her lawful occasions, and will get some ideas how a ship should be run, instead of the weird travesty of naval life usually exhibited to him. I venture to say that there are many officers and men in the militia of many years service who have never had this advantage. Without it, they are groping in the dark. It must be remembered that the officer who goes with the fleet is not (or should not be), quite green. Besides thorough training in the ranks, or its equivalent, he has made at least one cruise on his own cruising ship, to say nothing of his experience on the vessel loaned to his organization. After a few cruises with the fleet, he will be able to put in practice on, his own ship the things he has picked up, and he will see things from a much broader point of view than would be possible were all his service with his own organization. It is most important that the officer be compelled to perform his duties with the fleet with the minimum of "nursing," or the greatest benefit cannot be derived from the cruise. Another benefit, and not the least important, is that this method would tend to promote a better entente between the Services. Each would better appreciate the problems of the other, and we would approach a solution of them. The navy has quite as much to learn about the militia as the latter has about the navy. I have found that the good opinion of the naval officer for the militia was proportional to his knowledge of this service. No opportunity should be lost for the mutual exchange of this knowledge.
All second-class and first-class petty officers should be sent to cruise in the fleet in the same way as the watch officers, only it would probably be found best in the long run to have them perform all the duties of seamen? for the period of the cruise. The militia petty officer can be instructed ashore in the theory of his job, but even the best of them are surprisingly ignorant of such routine matters as can be learned only on a cruising ship. These petty officers are under the same disadvantages as their officers. They are constantly called on to instruct men in ways which are strange to them, when they should be devoting their whole time to learning their own jobs, not to teaching. They rarely have a chance to learn, as they never see a "part of the ship" correctly run. The result, as in the case of the officers, is the giving of false information or none at all, with consequent waste of time, confusion, and loss of prestige. All this is obviated by the method suggested.
To supplement the above suggestions, watch and division officers and petty officers from the navy must be detailed to the militia practice ships to act as instructors. These men should not be taken haphazard from the back-channel fleet, or from ships undergoing repairs at the yard. Such people rarely take an interest in their work, as they generally resent the detail, and know that they will be detached at the end of the cruise. Frequently they are unsuited by nature or by lack of experience for the work, and occasionally are outspoken in their dislike for the duty and for the militia. Any militiaman who has made a couple of federal cruises cannot help but note the vastly different progress made under different officers. The militia is a reserve of sufficient importance to warrant having officers selected with a view to their experience, their military bearing, neatness, and above all for their patience, tact, and good humor. The average naval officer does not appreciate how hypercritical the militiaman is, and how he is apt to be impressed by the bad rather than the good precept shown him. It is rather difficult to correct a militiaman when he replies: "Well, that's the way Mt. — used to do it." For instance, a rather informal way of turning over a watch to one's relief may "go" when watch-standing is a daily occurrence, but it would be fatal for the amateur watch-stander to try it. One cannot be too "smart" with the militiaman. He has to be taught smartness; he acquires slackness.
Equal care must be taken in selecting petty officers from the navy to run the militia divisions. Ex-instructors from the training stations would be ideal. At any rate, they must be competent, neat, military in bearing, and have patience with a lot of young men who may appear to be stupid, but who respond wonderfully if intelligently directed. All instructors should be detailed to the ship in time to become familiar with her before the cruise.
I would keep one junior officer and the third-class petty officers of the militia with their divisions for two reasons. First, to cut their eye-teeth before going to the Fleet: their work with the latter, in this event, will be vastly better understood. Second, so that there may be some one with the division who is familiar with each man, and can suggest suitable men for details. Also, they can give the instructors an idea as to what ground has been covered already by the instruction on shore, and what is most needed.
To review the system of cruising suggested above, we find the seaman making his first federal cruises with his own friends, and with men who are as inexperienced as he is. He is under experienced petty officers, and gets a fair idea of how a part of the ship is run, and what his individual duties are. When he gets rated, he makes a cruise under the same conditions, which are now fairly familiar to him, and under skilful supervision. He next goes as a second, and later on as a first-class petty officer to a vessel of the Fleet, and performs a seaman's duties. He now gets a chance to see how duty should be performed among trained men, and has a chance to compare militia methods and conditions with those of the navy. While he is learning these things, he is not distracted by trying to teach some one else. In time he gets his commission. At first, of course, the work is strange. As a junior officer he cruises with his own organization, under officers familiar with the work and with the ship, and with nothing to do but to instruct him. He next goes to the Fleet where he sees a ship run by men who make a business of this work, and he has a chance to try his ovfn hand at it, under their guidance. He gets a taste of maneuvers, signals, honors, etc., for the first time outside the book and lecture room. After a few years of this his education should be broad enough to enable him to put into practice, as head of a department, what he has absorbed. During this whole evolution, he has constantly been under the instruction of people who knew the game, and he has never been diverted from the main channel, which was his own education. All this time, his knowledge, and experience have been broadened and matured by intelligent instruction, under carefully selected inspector-instructors, in so much of the theory of the game as he may need for the performance of his particular job and no more. This has been driven home by repeated cruising oil-the vessel loaned to his organization.
Obviously no one person can formulate a complete plan for the instruction and employment of the naval militia that will suit all conditions. The above notes, however, are the result of much thought and study, and of some experience. They are submitted with a full appreciation of their imperfection, but with the hope that they may at least serve as a point of departure, by arousing discussion, adverse as well as favorable. Probably everyone who reads them will find something to disapprove in the suggestions made; some will find nothing of which to approve. As to such parts as may be favorably received, I have no doubt but that the reader will say he knew that already, and the rest will be called rot; but no matter. The subject is too important to remain quiescent any longer, and can be advanced only by careful thought and free discussion. I realize that at first glance some of the ideas presented above may seem revolutionary, particularly those in regard to target practice, astronomical navigation, and the federal cruises, but evolution is frequently preceded by revolution. I have discussed every important point in this paper with naval officers and with militiamen, many of whom have served in the navy, and while there was disagreement as to details, there was a remarkable agreement on all the salient issues.
It is a fact that the navy to-day is deplorably short of officers and men. It is a fact that we must depend on some sort of reserve to fill these vacancies (we will never keep on a war footing in time of peace). It is a fact that the naval militia is the only real, organized, reserve for the navy in existence to-day, and we must take it, for better or for worse. If it is no better than it is, the navy has itself largely to blame. The need for an estimate of the situation and a militia doctrine has been felt. If these notes can serve to dispel some of the fog which has clouded the situation, by arousing interest in this most important branch of the Service, they will have served their purpose, and are submitted for what they are worth.