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THE RUSSIAN ARMY, Issue 15633, 26 October 1914
THE RUSSIAN ARMY
AS IT REALLY IS. DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN WARFARE. The education of the modern officer haa radically changed during ' the last few years (writes the correspondent of the London 'Daily Mail'), the development of modern warfare hae rendered it necessary for him to acquire an ever-increasing burden of knowledge, so that on the-Continent to-day the officer is certainly one of the hardest worked members of the community. Training manuals replete with innumerable paragraphs have to bo learnt by heart and put into practice during manoeuvres year after year, in order that he shall be competent for the ultimate aim of hia profession, which is war. Every year manoeuvres are made more realistic, but after all there is no training for war likei a war. The Russian army to-day contains the only men in Europe who have had this training, so far as war on a vast scale is concerned. Tens of thousands of officers and men who have taken the field with the Russian army to-day have had the actual experience of modern warfare on which the latest military text books are, based. Among the endless battalions who are now in the field against the, Germans and the Austrians are any number of officers who have made the inevitable mistakes committed by troops facing fire for the first time. One might say that probably every battalion of the Russian army is leavened, by men who faced the inferno of fire at Port Arthur, Mukden, or other titanic combats of the Manchurian campaign. Soldiers understand the inappreciable moral effect which. the presence of these veterans will, have on untried recruits. Tho Germans with their 44 years of drilling by the book have yet to show how their immense organisation,, so perfect in peace, can' stand the test of war. The Russian army has passed through the ordeal by firej the German army has not.
—The Russian Officer.— I would describe the Russian - officer, with regard to \m social position and his relation with his men, as a mean between the French and the German officer. Like both, he goes through a long training, and devotes the whole of his life to eol- j (tiering. Like the German, he belongs | to the official caste, but the difference between . him and his German comrade is that he >is a Russian while the other is a German. In other words, the Russian officer is - more capable of human feeling, arid in a great national crisis like the present allows himself to be drawn into warmer and more intimate relations with his men, because they, like he, are Russian. Like the French officer, the ordinary company officer in the Russian army is often drawn from quite humble stock. He may possess papers of nobility, but as often as not comes from a milieu which is practically that of the peasants. ,He enter, a military training school at a very early age, seven or thereabouts, and after 11 or 12 years gets a commission; Commissions are conferred in a curious way. The cadet attends army manoeuvres as a non-conunissioned officer, and at the end of manoeuvres either the Tsar in person, or in his absence the general commanding, summons those who are ready for commissions and congratulates them as officers. The Russian officer works just aa hard as any other Continental officer. Certainly the training of recruits imposes a greater strain on him than on his comrades in other armies. The work of opening up a little the narrow and restricted outlook of the peasant makes the task of the Russian officer, in the words of one of them, "simple sehoolmastering" as far as the training of recruite goes. The Russian officer is more or less paternal in his dealings with his men. He addresses them as "My children," and on active service willingly shares their hardships, as indeed he is throughout his career expressly trained to do. —A New Spirit.— Those who know the Russian army believe that the new spirit which has manifested itself since the Russo-Japanese War will make for efficiency in the present struggle. The banishing of vodka, from the hfe of the soldier and the introduction of English games, particularly football, have gone far to improve the physical and moral condition of the men. The War Minister's recent recommendation to the officers' corps to exclude vodka from the regimental messes was followed to an extent which was certainly not expected. Tho efforts of the military leaders have been directed towards relieving the deadly dullness of life in a provincial garrison, from which so many abuses in the Russian army have. sprung in the past. The physique both of officer and man is probably higher than that of the German army. The powers of endurance of the Russian are well known. The peasants are wont to cover daily immense distances on foot as quite an ordinary detail of theix lives. The Russian infantry can go on for ever. They are not pampered by too much civilisation. Their waiits are simple and easily satisfied. They probably still drink more alcohol than is good for them if they get the chance; they are also inordinate cniokens, being perfectly happy if they can roll themselves a cigarette out of a pinch oi coarse tobacco in a wisp of newspaper. We are now congratulating ourselves on the excellence of the arrangements made by' our General Staff for tne landing -of the Expeditionary Force in France. We had a very severe lesson 14 years ago, and seem to have profited by it. In the same way, the Russian General Staff has taken to heart tho teaching.- of the Manchurian campaign. —Seven Frontiers.— The difficulties confronting the Russian General Staff are many and great. The British Army knows something of frontier defence on its Indian North-west frontier, but Russia has seven frontiers to guard. It is an axiom of war to be able to outnumber aa enemy at a given point, but Russia hat to be ready to outnumber her enemy at many points, hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles from one another. Another grave obstacle in the way of the Russian General Staff in its campaign iox- eftieieTicy .-\ro the tx-adationa I of bribery aud corruption which, still re- ' main in certain circles of the Russian J bureauoracy. It can no longer be denied j that the Russian General Staff did sterI ling work in the Manchuiian campaign, j For the purposes of which half a million ! troops had to be conveyed across the : whole of Siberia over a single line of raili way. Since the Russo-Japanese War public criticism and the new spirit animating the army have undoubtedly improved the quality of their work,, and the fact that they have recovered confidence in themselves is shown by the recent manifesto issued by the War Minister, in which the Russian Genera! Staff quietly affirms its readiness for war with the greatest military Power of Europe. The finest brains of Russia- are found in the General Staff, and Russians are not lonowned for theic lack of brain power. The entrance examinations for the General Staff arc extremely severe, with the result that mostlv men who are thoroughly keen on their work find admission. Favoriti.-m to some extent there may be, as in other armies, but it is safe to say that the essential duties of the Staff will only be taken on by serious and capable, officers. The smoothness and speed of the Russian mobilisation are eloquent testimony to the fhorouchness of the preparatory labors of the Russian General Staff in peace time. Before long there will be other and more etriking proofs.
THE RUSSIAN ARMY, Issue 15633, 26 October 1914
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