The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY, APRIL 5, 1919. MILITARY TRAINING.
The Ashburton County Council at its meeting yesterday, reaffirmed its opposition to the compulsory military training camps for youths aged 18 years and upwards, proposed by some military leaders in the Dominion. As no definite scheme has yet
been put forward, officially, it...ia ; difficult to say what the Defence Department really anci the County Council's objection* are probably aimed more at'anjjjj"' increase of, .what, for convenience,, is.termed militarism in.this country, than . to' any : particular scheme. It would be absurd io suggest that, the: Councillors; lack.-; patriotism) or wish -to encourage. ''shirking," because at least. t\vq.: of the strongest critics of the com-i pulsory camp scheme; gave .and lost sons during the recent waj for the Empire. , The r'eal; : ques«». tion at issue is how far is it neees* sary in the interests -of national defence to call upon the services... of the youth of the country., This is a matter of tremendous import-^ • ance, and should be considered aSK impartially and as ; imperisbiially aaj human nature will allow. Some of Sir James Allen's claims in his. letter to the Council,, are,, in our. opinion, unanswerable.. It ds r as he wrote, "impossible: to say, thati there will be no menace 1b this country in the years to coins from outside." No good would be derived byr particularisiiur at this stage as to our likely .foes'; even. a casual aspect of the possibili-/ ties must . compel any patriot to admit that it would be madness to ignore all defence preparations, •trusting that the; friendships •at present., existing 'between New Zealand and other countries will a£way;s H .continue, Can w*e aSoid: to disarm ? That is the main and ' practically the only question that has to be answered:^ Tlie advahy tages of physical;, training, the. lessons of good citizenship, and the development" of moral qualities,' can be obtained by our, youth quite apart from any military system,-but' some form o£ defence 1 preparation is,.vitally necessary if there, is any prospect of , aggression this- country, or its friends;-'by envious or bullying neighbours. The subject is t too vast to be dealt with more fully in a limited space, but we unhesitatingly declare in favbiir of an adequate and efficient. de-,/ ■ fence force being trained. Sucli preparation is a penalty of our prosperity and national standard pfiiving and conduct. The de- . fects, if any, of the official v proposals, can be discussed, when.tie . aie'w scheme is definitely launched. ; Very few outside the Defence De•purtment vrish to see the strength of Hire military, caste increased ip., ;.■ ■tliis land; popular experiences of the "military mind" during recent years have not added to its . prestige. 'It should be possible, however, to acquire a really .efficient ■_4q?f,eiice system ;i without. per^; petiatiiig 1 the erroneous .traditions of the past. The Defence Department must be niade to suit the nation, and not the nation shaped - to mcct _..the theories and desires of the heads 'of the"" Department. • '