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SAN FRANCISCO, January 18. The United States is quite unprepared for war—even defensive war—alid would be at the mercy of a strong invading Power. This impressive warning was given to Congress and the country last week, by the man best qualified to pass judgment, MajorGeneral Leonard Wood, Chief of Staff of the Army, a position which in this, country is the equivalent of com-mander-in-chief. ' "If you sent your troops into war as they are now, without guns or ammunition, it would be absolute 1 slaughter," the General told the Military Committee of the House of Representatives. America's unreadiness for war is not a subject upon which the Government and Congress are ignorant. Repeated admonitions have been uttered by militai'y chiefs as to the weakness of the defence forces, both in numbers and equipment. It seems' to be the policy of the governing powers to act on the assumption that this country has no need for a strong army. Uncle Sam has no .ambitions in the way of securing additional territory,*'and it is inconceivable, in his opinion,' that any Power should dream of attacking him. But General Wood rudely jolts these comfortable views. "We are as liable to have war as anybody else," ho told Congress in his written statement. Referring to tho United States being a rich country, he said: "If we are unprepared for war there would be more temptation for a country to strike us, and if it makes up its mind to do so it can strike us at any time." In urging I that field guns sufficient for a force of 500,000 men be furnished, he said that these would bo wanted for defensive purposes, as the United States would never send abroad an army of that size. On the other hand, ho said, it was hardly likely that a nation would send any smaller army than, 500,000 or 600,000 men across the Atlantic Ocean to this country after disposing of this country's fleet, if ever such an event happened. This outspoken discussion of the possibility of a European nation sending an invading army into America, after a lapse of more than 100 years since anything of the kind has happened, coming from such »n authoritative ' source as the head of the army, has created almost a sensation. The country is not in a frame of mind to consent to tho vast additions that General Wood desires, but his statement is likely to lead to a considerably increased appropriation" for army purposes. " We have neither guns nor ammunition sufficient to give any general commanding an-army in the field any assurance of success if attacked by an army of equal .size which is supplied with its proper quota of field artillery," said General Wood in urging that £1,200,000 bo appropriated for the purchase of such equipment. It is his belief that no modern war between firstclass Powers would last for more than one year. ' Jn the event that' a war started the supply of ammunition, would be limited to what the 1 arsenals can turn out. At present this is about 1600 rounds a day running three shifts, and this ammunition, under ordinary conditions, would bo fired by eight guns in one day of battle, according to General Wood. He added: "If guns are not supplied on tho battlefield with the ammunition which they can reasonably, be expected to use they are not efficient, and when guns have exhausted the ammunition supplied they are worse than junk, for they must; be protected by other troops. The War Department believes, after exhaustive study,, that in case of war with a firstclass Power an army of 500,000 men would be needed to give this, country any chance of success' against invasion, and that this force will: be needed at once: r To make it efficient it must-be given its proper quota of field artillery. A fire department without its; proper equipment is worthless; irrespective of the number of men it has, and so would your armies unless you provided _in peace the material which will make them effective in war." All the ammunition the army now has is 201,614 rounds, and General Wood makes the striking comparison that at Mukden in nine days the 1204 Russian guns expended '250,000 rounds.

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Bibliographic details

UNPREPARED., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8803, 26 February 1914

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UNPREPARED. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8803, 26 February 1914

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