A LOCAL MILITARY OPINION.
COMPULSORY TRAINING DESIRABLE. "There is no doubt whatever that the present state of affairs in regard to defence matters in this country is decidedly unsatisfactory, and that the only, remedy is compulsory training, 5 ' said a gentleman high in local volunteer circles, when approached for his opinion upon the subject of universal military training, by a representative of this paper, and he proceeded to explain the raison d'etre of his attitude. "For one thing, the amount of field work that the present regulation volunteers are able to get is quite inadequate. The ordinary barrack-room work at night is practically useless unless combined with field training, and that cannot possibbly be obtained at present with, the limited time at the disposal of the men for work in the field. With the exception of six afternoons in the year,--a large portion of which time is spent inpetting to and coming from manoeuvre grounds, the only opportunity for field work is the four days at Easter. And a very large number of the men are unable to attend the Easter manoeuvres. My own idea of compulsory training is that everyone from 17 to 21 years of age should be compelled to put in. one month's ' continuous field training in every year, with a certain number of Saturdays devoted to rifle practice. When a young man reaches the age of 21 he ought to be placed in the reserve for another six years, being called out every second year for a "fortnight's training in order to keep horn up-to-date. And at the same time, he should be required to keep, up- his musketry practice and qualify to a certain standard in that respect each year. If this were done, New Zealand would within a few years be able : to place a hundred thousand well-trained men in the field. * "The reason why I consider that one month's training each year would be sufficient," continued this officer, in reply to a query, "is that we could eliminate entirely from the training of our men the ceremonial work, to which a great deal of the time spent in the training of regular soldiers is devoted. In New Zealand we require practical work and prac-l tical work only. The men might not compare very favourably with €he more carefully trained men of . Continental armies, but I think that in practical work in the field, allowing for the superior intelligence of the ordinary man in New Zealand as compared with the recruit of the Continental nations, we ought to be able to hold our own." ; NECESSITY OF ARMS FACTORY. "One of the most important matters, in my opinion," expressed the officer in elaboration, "is the establishment of a small , arms factory in New Zealand. In time of war there would be no . opportunity of importing arms, and therefore it would be highly neoeapary to have then the power ourselves of * replacing damaged weapons and of arming practically the whole male population." IMPROVED VOLUNTEER ESTICIENOY. "Aβ regards tho position of the Volunteers, things ere v.cry much improved from what they were some years ago, inasmuch as the Government have organised skeleton staffs Iα each district. There is plenty c! 'room for Improvement) still, but 'that Improreseat cMmofc,
■be obtained without the introduction, of universal ' ■••"- ;i - ■■ T - O NO QEWIOEES.,, _' ~ The conversation then turned to the question of'med to show the way, and on this point our officer was more than commonly emphatic. "One of the great and vital things to be considered in obtaining universal training is the training of officers," he declared; earnestly, and went -• on to utter some disconcerting truths respecting an army minus its thinking matter. "Continuous training for a few weeks may render a man in the ranks something like the requisite fighting unit, provided he can sKoot and possesses tiie rudiments: of-the soldier;, but it takes years -to train an officer, and almost as long to train properly a non-commissioned officer. My opinion is'that the keen men in the system of universal training would become the non-commissioned officers and officers of the'force, and they would not be confined to a training purely between the ages of 17 and 21.. but we could expect to find that these men would continue on perhaps for ten or twelve years. And when they eventually left they would be thoroughly efficient leaders. Ab the present time, assuming war broke out,.and assuming that we had sufficient rifles to arm 100,000 men, there would hardly-be two officers to a regiment throughout the Dominion, even if we took every officer on the, active list and on _the .active; unattached list, and every noh-coinmissioned officer. This would mean that our army, would belittle 'better than an armed mob, and practically useless as a means of defence." . •
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