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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1899.

DEFECTS OF THE BRITISH ARMY. • There ii: no army in Iho world that has n, better record for pluck and daring than tho British, but tho present war ia teaching us that it haß Berioua dofecta. Its shortcomings arc not duo to tho material from which ita officers and men aro drawn, but to tho want of scientific attention to details. Tho Gorman officer is abovo all things a professional man, he, duvoteH hia timo and onorgy to a compluto mastery of tho art of warfare. Tho Hiimo may be said of tho average ContinejitiU officer in general, but hio HritiNli eonfroro largely troats his profusion an a aporl or a hobby rathor than .as tho real buniuuHM of hia life. This iv paitly duu to tho absence of tho military Hpiril Iv Uiltinh society, and pnrtly to t-ho fact that tho Uriliah olllcur in ouHontiully the Kngliuh goni lonian Ih'nl and tho Holdlur nucuiul. Until ntoont yuan* tho Church of England \hwhuu, oNpticiiilly in country (Hilricl'M, mippliod a cloNoly unaloU<nin illilMti'uLloti. fu lilnUw, iiiwlinclH, uud hubitfl of Jlfo ho belonged to thu country wintry lalhor than lo thu pricHlIkkkl or tho ttiinlnlry. Tlijh wiih all very woll m> lmu{ n« Iho Olunvh was Mooiiro of lint' (Million und imaiimilod by powerful (>noiiii''H, lint Ihu Htn'ntj of modern lifo linn foicml thn Anglican purHon to lidoiit a morn uxeliiMvolv/ professional rnlu. In tho nuiuu wny thu exitfDuoiu* ol v. ftltugglo »uuli u« in now

boing waged in South Africa is proving to the War Office that we need amonj; our officers more professional soldiers, more men who will make tho military art the pivot of their lives. There are, A\e admit, many Bri tish officers who are " keen on ' their profession, and mearly all lion estly do what they consider theii duty to their regiments and tho service. But the tone of the messes and the military circle in general is averse to the strictly professional ' view of the army. To this cause' must' be attributed most of the defects 'disclosed by recent operations. A few. days. ago we received from a correspondent a translation of an nrtide that appeared in the Frankfort Gazette shortly after the outbreak o\ hostilities. The article, which is from the pen of a Prussian officer, and which we hope to publish later as space permits, criticises the British service in o kindly but trenchant manner, and much of the criticism has already been justified by what has occurred in South Africa. At the Aldershot manoeuvres the writei was particularly struck by the slight notice commanding officers took of the formation of the ground. They seemed actually to soout the protection, provided by nature. Turning to our cabled account of the Tugela River fight, we find that when Lieut. -Colonel Long brought his two batteries into action he advanced to within six hundred yards of the Boer riflemen, who promptly shot the horses and many of the gunners, the result being that ten guns had to be abandoned. Evidently on this occasion the tactics employed in the field were similar to those condemned by the Prussian officer at the manoeuvres. In fact, his words read almost as. a prophecy: "The English artillery officer will in this campaign act like his predecessors, plant his battery on a rise in full view of the enemy (instead of seeking cover behind if, merely leaving room to point his barrels and so protecting his men) and thereby give the Boer sharpshooters the opportunity to pick off his men singly, just as his infantry brother will expose his men needlessly." Other examples of like reckless exposure in face of the enemy have also been supplied -in the recent engagements. ' Another fault found by the Prussian critic with our military organisation is the neglect of patrolling and scout service, particularly ir the infantry. "British commanders," he says, "do not seom to grasp the importance of such service, as the fate of the unfortunate General Colley^ proved, alas, too well, in the late Transvaal war." This and other such causes, he contends, point to heavy British losses during the present war. "The average British officer," he declares, "is the same as he was in 1881, and little surprise will be felt if defeats take place by no means attributable to want of courage in officers or men, but solely to want of knowledge in choosing opportunities when to act, and Eecuring positions where to act." Owing to their iack of scientific training in the art of war, he fears that our meif*and officers will prove unable to act as independent units in cases of emergency. They will trust to high courage and dash rather than to skill to extricate them from difficulties. Perhaps the most glaring fault displayed in the present campaign has been the want of knowledge of the enemy's movements and positions. This is no doubt due to the neglect of scouting, upon which our critic comments so severely. General Gatacre, , General Mothuen,' and in a measure Sir Redvers Bullcr himself have all suffered for the sins of their intelligence departments. The excellent work done by Colonel Wingale under Lord Kitchener in the Soudan should have taught our authorities the value of a highly organised intelligence department, but so far the South African campaign seems to prove that branch of the service to be as weak 1 as ever. The real truth appears to be that our officers do not put enough constant hard work into the scientific study of the art of war. Our cavalry is among the finest in the world, but because its work is so nearly akin to tho sports the Englisman gentleman loves. This war will probably teach us many lessons, and vye shall find that an effort will ( be mado to cure the defects to which we have referred. THE OTAKI SEAT. , ♦ The speech delivered by Mr. W. H. Field last night was far more reasonable in many Tespects than those to which we have been accustomed during the recent campaign, but it was evident that the speaker was, as he modestly admitted, not an experienced politician. He was evidently somewhat oppressed by the responsibility of making a good impression, and his tone was becomingly apologetic. He made rather a laboured effort to treat his opponent with moderation, and announced his intention of avoiding personalities, but his good resolution must have failed him or he would not have committed such a mistake' as to insinuate that Mr. Morison had attended the late member's funeral " on an electioneering campaign,'' nor was he wise to claim that the seat should have been left to him unopposed. We can, however, congratulate him upon his abandonment of the desire to gain sympathy votes, and we fuhy endorse his advice to the electors to remove •> all feeling of sympathy and vote for the man whom they think besb- able to take care of their interests. Mr. Field, we observe, repudiated the charge of being a "roads and bridges" candidate, and yet he went out of his way to inform his audience that " the Government were not likely to be* as cheerful in doing for the Opposition candidate what they would do for him." This was certainly putting the gospel of Seddonism less brutally than constant practice has enabled the Premier to put it, but it was manifestly the same gospel. The evident intention was to offer a chance of bribes to the cohstituency, and this is a practice that is niost offensive to all right-minded citizens. On two or three points Mr. Field showed a certain independence of judgment. Ho favoured tho limited freehold advocated by the Opposition, ho was opposed to the monopoly now enjoyed by brewers and hotelkeeperw, and he differed from the Premier with regard to native land policy. We are not prepared to say how far this independence Avould go in resisting the fascinations of tho Government-Whip, but we give Mr. Field credit for his present attitude. His genial politics were of the typo so often .displayed from Ministerialist platforms, ana boyond boing the late member's brother and the prospective recipient of a Government supporter's doles, there is nothing to recommend Mr. Field to the oleotors of Otaki. If they desiro above all things a man who will vote with the Government they will choose him, but if they wish for an independent and energetic member, with oiiginal progressive ideas, they will return Mr. Morison.

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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1899., Evening Post, Volume LVIII, Issue 149, 21 December 1899

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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1899. Evening Post, Volume LVIII, Issue 149, 21 December 1899

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