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The Army at Home, so organized, will furnish a Cavalry Division of four Brigades, six Infantry Divisions of three Brigades each, and a complement of Army troops and troops for lines of communication. The Divisions have been arranged on a larger scale of three Brigades in order to make them correspond with the organization of the British Army in India. To make the new organization possible, it has been necessary carefully to consider what parts of the existing organization were defective. It was found that, owing to the deficiency in administrative elements, such as Ammunition Columns, Army Service Corps, and Army Medical Corps, it would be, as things at present stand, impossible to mobilize as a fully organized force much more than half of the existing combatant units. With a view, among other things, to making possible the provision of these deficiencies, reductions have been made in Regular combatant establishments, surplus to what is required for the organization of the six Divisions, amounting to about 16,000 men.
Of the 99 batteries of Field Artillery now at Home, only 66 are required for the mobilization of the six Divisions; though of these, owing to the present deficiency of reservists to complete ammunition columns, only 42 can be mobilized. The 33 surplus batteries it is proposed to form into training brigades which will train men on a non-Regular basis, to bring the personnel of the Artillery up to its full requirements, including the ammunition columns now lacking.
No reduction, however, of the establishments of the Regular Artillery can properly be made until personnel, trained on a non-Regular basis to the requisite extent, is ready to fill the gap. All the battery establishments of Horse and Field Artillery consequently remain for the present unchanged; certain economies wholly unconnected with this question have however been effected in the establishments of Artillery depôts.
Of the other troops surplus to the requirements of the new organization, two battalions of Foot Guards have been dispensed with, and disbandment has been ordered. One has already ceased to exist, but the other, the 3rd Bn. Coldstream Guards, is usefully employed in temporarily strengthening the British Force in Egypt. The necessity of finding, with due regard to economy, the money necessary for making good the deficient elements in the new force renders it impossible to maintain units of any arm in excess of its due proportion.
Eight battalions of the Line have been reduced from the Colonial Establishment, as described below, but as the Home battalions perform the vital function of providing drafts for battalions abroad, no more could be dispensed with while the force abroad remains at its present establishment.
Steps are being taken to make good the considerable deficiencies which, as already stated, exist in administrative troops, such as medical, transport, and other departmental services. It would, however, be both extravagant and unnecessary to give all the personnel of these services the costly training of the British regular soldier. Careful investigation is in progress as to what proportion of this personnel is required at the beginning of the campaign to consist of fully-trained Regulars, and what proportion may be civilians specially trained for a sufficient period. The necessary plans for providing this non-Regular personnel, or Special Service Division, and giving it the necessary training, are being closely worked out.
The consideration by the Committee of Imperial Defence of the garrisons maintained at Colonial stations has enabled the Army Council to make the withdrawal above referred to of eight battalions of British Infantry-four from South Africa, two from Malta, one from Gibraltar, and one from Ceylon, which will be replaced by a Native battalion.
On the other hand, the establishment of all battalions remaining in the Colonies has been raised from 766 to 840 rank and file. This increase in the strength of the 10 battalions remaining in South Africa, together with the addition of a fifth Cavalry regiment there, very largely compensates for the reduction made. The result of these changes is to reduce the number
of Line battalions abroad (including India) from 85 to 77, so that, if the present total number of 156 Line battalions were maintained, we should have, for the first time since the Cardwell system was established, a majority (79) at Home. But these eight battalions are not required for the Field Force; their disbandment leaves us with only the manageable number of three two-battalion regiments with both battalions abroad, as against seven in the establishments of 1906-07, and under present conditions the Government considers that their retention on the Home establishment would not have been justified. The realization of the Cardwell ideal of equal numbers at Home and abroad, thus brought within reasonable distance, may not be long delayed.
It has also been found possible to remove two Native Indian battalions from Mauritius, one going to Ceylon to replace the British battalion withdrawn, and one returning to India, where it is no longer a charge upon Army Votes; and to disband the Chinese Regiment.
A joint Naval and Military Committee, under the presidency of General Sir J. F. Owen, after completing an examination of the fixed coast defences at Home stations, undertook a tour of inspection to examine into the armaments of our Coaling stations. Their recommendations have led to considerable reductions in Garrison Artillery establishments at Home and abroad; but the proposed changes have not yet all been fully worked out.
ESTABLISHMENTS AND TERMS OF SERVICE.
The number of units of each arm to be maintained on the Home establishment having been fixed, the question of the peace establishment to be assigned to each unit remains. This and the closely allied question of the length of the soldier's service with the Colours and in the Reserve form a subject of considerable complexity, requiring for its proper treatment much careful calculation and study of several factors, among which may be mentioned the proportion of the strength of each arm abroad to that at Home, the drafts necessary and the organization for finding them, the possibilities of recruiting, the regular reservists required on mobilization and to make good waste in the field, the length of service necessary to make an efficient soldier of the several arms, the strength necessary for a unit in peace for training purposes, &c. This investigation is not yet complete for all arms of the Service, but much has been done towards putting this part of the subject on a scientific and, it may be hoped, a permanent basis. The following have been fixed as the periods of Colour service for the principal arms :
with power to retain a man for such portion of an additional year with the Colours as may be necessary, if he be abroad on completing his term of Colour service.
Notwithstanding the return to the shorter period of Colour service for Infantry of the Line, and the consequent eventual increase in the Indian and Colonial drafts, the Army Council are satisfied that the establishment of each Home battalion admits of being reduced from 750 to 720 rank and file.
The Cavalry organization represented in the Estimates of 1905-06, and provisionally continued in those of 1906-07, depended upon the formation of two large depôts for supplying drafts to regiments abroad. The buildings and training grounds necessary for these depôts do not exist, and it has been decided to omit them from the establishments of 1907-08, maintaining
the regiments at Home at an establishment which will enable them to find drafts for those abroad. The details of the Cavalry organization are, however, not yet fully settled.
An Army Order was issued in September last, creating a General Staff for the Army, thus completing the reform begun, under my predecessor, by the creation of a Department of the Chief of the General Staff in the War Office itself.
For many years the Commanders-in-Chief at Malta and Gibraltar have also been charged with the responsibilites of the civil government of those Colonies; and it has been necessary to provide a complete staff, general, administrative and personal, on a liberal scale at each station. At the same time these two commands, as well as the third Mediterranean command of Egypt, have been entirely independent of one another, without any provision for co-ordination except through the War Office itself. In view of the progress made with decentralization from the War Office, it has been decided to appoint a purely military Commander-in-Chief, with no civil duties, for the Mediterranean as a whole, to be stationed at Malta. No increase in cost of any kind will result from the new arrangements.
SERVICE AND PROFICIENCY PAY.
An alteration of some importance has been effected in the rules under which the soldier draws his pay. Under the scheme of general three years' enlistments it was necessary to hold out a substantial inducement to the soldier to extend his service with the Colours to eight years, in order to supply drafts to India and other garrisons abroad; and this inducement took the form of "service pay" at rates varying from 4d. to 7d. per day, payable to men of two years' service and upwards who so extended. This service pay however, which was costing the country over a million a year, failed to induce men to extend in the requisite numbers and for some time grave difficulty was experienced in supplying India with drafts. The general three years' term of enlistment having consequently been abandoned, and the main principle of the system of service pay, viz., payment for length of service, having therewith disappeared, it became necessary to reconsider the general question of the soldier's emoluments.
It appeared, in the course of enquiry, that the giving of extra pay merely for extension of service, without any qualifying standard of military efficiency, threatened to militate seriously against the efficiency of the Army. Men no longer found it worth their while to qualify as signallers or other specialists or even, in some cases, to take up the duties and responsibilities of noncommissioned officers. On the advice of the Army Council, and in accordance with the recommendations of a predominantly military committee, an important change has been made. Subject to the vested rights of individuals in the Service at the time the change took effect, extra pay will no longer be given for mere length of Colour service; but men of over 2 years' service will be eligible for Proficiency Pay, at rates of 3d. or 6d. a-day, each rate being given only for the attainment and maintenance of a defined standard of skill in musketry, signalling or some other branch of military proficiency, together with a 3rd Class Certificate of general education. This proficiency pay will not be given in specialised corps such as the Royal Engineers and Army Service Corps, the men of which already draw, in addition to their regimental pay, varying rates of "corps" or other special pay according to their skill in their own special duties. Various minor restrictions formerly adhering to the grant both of service pay and of the messing allowance of 3d. a-day, have at the same time been withdrawn.
The general result of these changes, as individuals with vested rights pass out of the Army, will be in course of time to produce a substantial saving on the Pay Vote. As money becomes available from this source, it is intended to give the soldier, from the date of enlistment, the Messing Allowance of 3d. a-day additional to his pay, which he at present receives only. after 6 months' service.
The principles of sanitation are being steadily inculcated in the Army by means of a School of Army Sanitation at Aldershot for combatant officers and men, and for non-commissioned officers and men of the Royal Army Medical Corps, by the compulsory examination of all officers in hygiene, the distribution. of literature, and the delivery of lectures by officers of the Royal Army Medical Corps. By these means, and by the institution of sections of specially trained men to look to the sanitary affairs of units in the field, it is confidently hoped to reduce the proportion of sick in future campaigns.
A careful survey has been made of the condition of the Auxiliary Forces. Investigation has shown that it is beyond question that the existing organization of these forces is such as to make it impossible to use them with full advantage to the nation.
Proposals for the reorganization of the Auxiliary Forces, by which it is hoped to adapt them to our military requirements, will be laid before Parliament in due course. It will, however, be impossible to put these proposals into effect during 1907-08; and accordingly no provision for them appears in these Estimates. A Supplementary Estimate be presented for the year 1906-07 to provide the sum necessary to enable the War Office to take over from the Public Works Loan Board the mortgages secured on Volunteer drill halls and other property of the corps, which are held by that body. The charge will be met out of savings on the Army Votes: of 1906-07; and the effect on the Estimates of 1907-08 will be to reduce them by the amount (about 28,000/.) repaid in the usual course as interest and sinking fund for these loans. In the event of the new scheme receiving the sanction of Parliament, and of the War Office taking over the existing secured debts of Volunteer corps, the operation will in this way be greatly facilitated.
The numbers of the Militia fell from 98,812 on 1st January, 1906, to 97,632 on 1st January, 1907. This is partly due to the recruiting and re-engagement for the Militia Submarine Miners having been stopped in view of the transfer of their duties to the Navy.
The experiment referred to in my Memorandum for 1906-07, by which the recruits of 20 selected battalions drill for 6 months on enlistment instead of 63 days, has attracted recruits to these battalions in large numbers, and during the coming summer the selected battalions will undergo a lengthened training of 6 weeks instead of 27 days. The results of this interesting experiment, which necessitates an increase in the Militia Vote, will continue to be carefully watched.
The strength of the Volunteers on 1st January, 1907, was 248,416, as compared with 241,708 on 1st January, 1906, an increase of 6,708. 5,343 less attended camp, but on the other hand there was an increase in the number of efficients of 10,693.
The special Field Army Brigades have ceased to exist; but in their place forty-four brigades of Infantry Volunteers have been established, with permanent Brigadiers and Brigade-Majors. The whole of the Volunteer Infantry are thus under their own Brigadiers for all purposes throughout the
The output of short rifles has been satisfactory, and more than suffices to re-arm the whole of the Regular Forces, including reservists. The Cavalry have all been re-armed, also the Infantry at home, and certain other units. Issues to Infantry abroad are being made as rapidly as possible, and will shortly be completed.
The programme for 1907-08 is sufficient to provide reserve arms for the whole of the Regular troops.
A modified long rifle, suitable for charger loading, has been approved for the Volunteers, and the conversion of existing long rifles will begin in 1907-08.
RE-ARMAMENT OF HORSE AND FIELD ARTILLERY.
The progress contemplated in the original programme has been more than realized. The supplies demanded by India have been completed and issued; the re-armament of the batteries in the Field Army and in South Africa is completed. Of the training batteries, some are completely equipped, and the remainder are being provided with sufficient guns for training and will, it is anticipated, be completed before the coming practice season.
Good progress has been made towards the selection of an improved pattern of Field howitzer; and provision is made in these Estimates for the commencement of manufacture, so that the re-armament of the howitzer batteries may be actively proceeded with in 1908-09.
SUPPLY OF OFFICERS.
It is recognized as desirable that cadets should remain at Sandhurst for two years before joining their regiments; but the present accommodation there is so limited that in order to supply the numbers of officers now required by the British and Indian Armies it has been found necessary to reduce the course to one year. As a makeshift, an extra class of Sandhurst cadets is at present, accommodated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, where rooms are temporarily available; but the enlargement of Sandhurst is a pressing necessity, and funds for the purpose have been set aside out of the limited sum remaining available under the Military Works Loan.
RESERVE OF OFFICERS.
Large number of officers of all arms are required on the outbreak of war, in addition to those employed with the Regular Army in peace. As matters stand at present, these cannot be found from the Militia and Volunteers, those forces being themselves seriously short of officers. The question of supplying these requirements is one of considerable difficulty and has been engaging the attention of the Army Council for some time past. A Committee including representatives of the Universities and Public Schools is now sitting at the War Office, and it is confidently hoped that, as a result of its deliberations, practical steps may shortly be taken to begin the formation of this most necessary reserve. A sum of 50,000l. has been provided in Vote 1 for expenditure on this service in 1907-08.
ADMINISTRATIVE TRAINING OF OFFICERS.
A new course of training for Army officers has been inaugurated at the London School of Economics. It is specially designed to train officers in business and commercial methods, in order to fit them for administrative posts. The subjects to be taught include Accounting, Commercial Law, Carriage by land and sea, Economic Theory, Economic Geography, and Statistical Method, all of which will be treated from the point of view of Army requirements.
18th February, 1907.
R. B. HALDANE.