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ANNUAL DEFENCE REPORT.

The report for the year ended February 29th, 1908, by the Council of Defence was presented to Parliament on August 26. The report states that &> ix has been decided by the Government that the present system (voluntary enlistment and without pay) is to continue^ the attention of the Council must be devoted to endeavouring to obtain a higher standard of efficiency under that system. To do this it is absolutely necessary that means should be devised whereby the whole of the field force shall do as much work as possible by daylight in the field, the larger units (regiments and battalions) being brought together as often as possible, and the various arms of which the force is composed woiking 1 together more frequently than at present. In order that all officers, and especially those of the higher ranksj may obtain some knowledge of iheir work, it is the intention of the Council to so revise the regulations governing the earning of capitation and payment for daylight parades that this object may be attained. Attention will also be devoted to encouraging ex-volunteers to join reserve corps to the affiliation of reserve corps and rifle corps to existing volunteer units, and the payment of capitation or pay for daylight work to such members of the above mentioned as actually turn out for field work with the units to which they are affiliated.

A Promotion Board will be established to deal with promotions abov.e the rank of captain — this course is followed in England and Australia. The Boai4 will consist of : the InspectorGeneral, the officer commanding the district, and the senior combatant officer ot the arm of the service to which the officer whose promotion is under consideration belongs. The Council also strongly recommends for earnest consideration the question of the establishment of a school on the lines of that at Kingston, Canada, for the training of future officers, civil engineers, and surveyors.

RECOMMENDATIONS. The Council recommends as follows :—

Uniform for rank and flle-^-Gfeat coats to-be supplied; a valuation to be made for units already supplied of those serviceable, the .value agreed upon to be paid to those units in lieu of issue; units receiving issue of great co\is to have 10 per year for three years deducted from- capitation ; field service uniform to be maintained as at present out of capitation, but drass Vggulations must be adhered to ; arms accoutrements, water bottles, haver--I'sacks,, mess tins, the water-proof sheets, nose-bags, and head-ropes for mounted rifles to be a Government

issue Uniform for officers — Each officer, in addition to capitation, on passing for his commision to be granted an annual personal bonus so long as he remains efficient, as follows: — Lieutenant £2 10s, captain '.£5, major £7 1 05, lieutenant-colonel^ .£lO, for the maintainance of his uniform^ upkeep of his position, etc., this to include officers of defence, cadets except, that half of the above-mentioned rates be paid,

Supply of officers. — A Board of Selection fo be set up in each district, which will select arid forward names for the approval of the Council of Defence when vacancies »or openings for promotion occur, preference by -right to be given to officers or non-commis-sioned officers in the forces, provided the Board is satisfied of their fitness before recourse is made to selction from outsiders ; a list to be opened, where gentlemen desiroms of becoming officers may register and receive preliminary training, from which list the Board may select when it is necessary to go outside those at presen serving If selection must be adhered to, the Board of Selection should approve of the candidates before they go up for election.

; Efficiency of officers. All officers to be required, in order to draw the annual allowance before-mentioned, to b ; tested every three years 'as to fitness, failing which they will be placed on the reserve list ; officers on the reserve list failing to maintain their efficiency to the satisfaction of the officer commanding the district to be placed on the retired* list ; the age limit of officers and rank and file as per regulations .to be adhered to. . ■V; THE FIELD FORCE.

Under the heading "Department of the. Chief of General Staff" it is stated that there is much yet to be done in Ac field force, regiments and battalions at present being so merely in name. Squadrons and companies do not seem to voluntarily give that allegiance to ; their corps , necessary to •ensure the true regimental and battalion spirit. It is admitted that the training of a force is by squadrons and companies, hat in war these units must be administered and operate under regimental organisations. What is not practised in peace must fail in war. Thus, the various' divisions, , regiments, and battalions require true I organisation as such. The enrolment

in the reserves is disappointing. In regard to rifle clubs it is stated that attention must be given to thjm in the way of simple training to make them more efficient reserves. Their organisation and affiliation to volunteer corps would facilitate matters. - The enrolled strength of the forces is 19,947. It is expected that l'ltie, if any, change in drill , will be m?de for a considerable time, so that from now- forward there will be general uni formity of work and training throughout the Dominion." No attempt is being made to turn the force into a mere drill machine, the simplest of movements only being necessary to enable officers to lead their commands in the necessary tactical formation to occupy the positions requir ed where the full and best effect of field gun or rifle fire can be obtained and good shooting will do the rest Assuming that the function of the Dominion defence forces ft primarily defence, the instruction given to otncers is that based on- defence, with the use of the counter attack. It is hoped that in the near future an infantry officers' instructor will be avail able in each district, who will take special charge of musketry mstruc tion and musketry practice: In our tactical scheme of defence good shoot ing is of the greatest importanceTKe target practice course has this year been framed to give more, latitude to officers in the training of their men in shooting. 'Intelligence information is furnished to the War Office, London, where the wc*k has been much appreciated. The interchange of intelligence with the War Offic* is of the greatest value to JNew Zealand, as would immediately become apparent if trouble arose. Ie is hoped by the end of the year to have the veterinary branch in thorough working order. The medical branch has been reorganised. It is intended to establish, if possible, a small nucleus of an army service corps more with a view to training then to creating a general establishment. FINANCE. In regard to finance, the sum of £176,426 was spent out of the Consoh -dated Fund last year. For the cur.rent year £214,470 will be required. The estimated amount required to be voted this year under contingent defence is £20,000, which provides for the purchase of six field guns, erection of, and additions, to, dnllsheds; acquirement of rifle ranges, and other expenditure incidental to the vote. In /connection win fixed harbour defence the sura of £15,000 is. asked for m order to carry out work of an important •nature in connection with the defence of our principal ports. OTHER REMARKS. The Inspector-General in his report states that new works are in progress in Wellington and Auckland, the former of which will be completed in a comparatively short time. The latter owing to the conditions under which tKey are being carried out, will take much longer. In regard to the Permanent Force, Colonel Davies says :— "It has not been found possible to complete all these arrangements yet, or at any rate a sufficient time has not elapsed for any effect to appear the officer selected to command not yet having commenced his duties. I can therefore only repeat my former statements." In regard to Field Artillery, there are some interesting remarks. Colonel Davies says: — "In my last report I pointed out that I was convinced more attention should be devoted to train- ' ing -for firing from direct, instead of covered positions. By direction of the Council of Defence, this has been done this year, and very nearly all— if not all — the firing has been direct. In support of what I then wrote, I beg to point out that in 'Notes on Recent Changes in the Japanese Field Artilery Manuals, part 11, Fighting' (published after my report was written, one of the principal lessons deduced from the war, is stated to*" be 'Disadvantage of covered, as compared with direct firing positions,' and in another paragraph, after pointing out that in certain cases indirect laying may be 'allowed,' it is stated 'This alteration is, however, on no account to be taken to imply tUat indirect laying is recommended/ The indirect method will doubtless be often used under certain conditions, but I think it highly improbable it. will ever be required in this country. Therefore it is right that as little as possible of the Sll top short time for training should be devoted to it." Referring to the Garrison Artillery, the Inspector-General says:— "As regards readiness for war with the ep.portunitiesv that the various arms get under present conditions for training, and for the reasons stated in my last report, I consider that Ac Garrison Artillery are, and will always be, much better prepared than any other branch" and the efficiency of the men they have is steadily progressing. Three df the Field Engineers' Corps are said to do good work. One corps is very backward, and has deteriorated. I It is not worth the expenditure on it." I MOUNTED RIFLES. i Some detailed criticism is given of i the mounted rifles. Apparently "there is room for considerable improvement The squadron sergeant-major, who should be the smartest man in the regiment, is in a large number of instances one of the most useless. "I also regret very much*" says the In-spector-General, "to find that the mounted rifles, who, almost without ex ception, were accustomed to train by remaining in camp and the field for a full seven days, now, in- a gi eat a-nd increasing number, merely come to camp in the evening and go to their ordinary work in the daytime. This was stopped for the infantry and their camps done away with, as it was considered — and undoubtedly was — a waste of money. It is a much greater was'-e of money when applied to mounted rifles, a3 the horses have to be fed, as well as the men, and as ithey (he mounetd rifles) certainly are IpSs able to learn their work at night, it should be put 3 stop to .at once. Also it is entirely unfair to those corps that train as they are expected t ptrain. Like the mounted rifles, the infantry corps vary much in usefulness and efficiency, owing generally to the same causes. A few corps in each district are really excellent in all the work they do, have excellent discipline, and in some cases, where they have exceptionally enthusiastic and capable officers, every effort is made by the latter to get as much daylight training as possible. But, unfortunately, the opportunities are very few. At the otner end of the . scale there are some corps (about 20) ' so bad and useless in every Way that there is no justification at all"' for the. expense incurred upon them in their present state. The" majority of the corps range from fair to good, and theie is no reason whatever why they should not improve even under the uresent conditions if all ranks made an effort and mean business. In many corps the non-commissioned officers and sometimes the officers have little or no idea of instructing or handling their men, cannot sometimes carry out the simplest manoeuvre (such as putting half-a-dozen men quickly int oany required position), have practically no knowledge of .field duties or control of fire discipline, and I have even several times found that they have not been able to sight rifles j correctly when instructed to show men who were ignorant."

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Bibliographic details

ANNUAL DEFENCE REPORT., Grey River Argus, 7 September 1908

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ANNUAL DEFENCE REPORT. Grey River Argus, 7 September 1908

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