Book: The World Crisis, Vol. 1: 1911 1914

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(A.)—Military Education and War Staff Training.

1. It is necessary to draw a distinction between the measures required to secure a general diffusion of military knowledge among naval officers and the definite processes by which Staff Officers are to be trained. The first may be called ‘Military Education,’ and the second ‘War Staff Training.’ They require to be treated separately, and not mixed together as in the report of the Committee. Both must again be distinguished from all questions of administration, of material, and of non-military education and training. The application of fighting power can thus be separated from its development. We are not now concerned with the forging of the weapon, but only with its use.

Military Education.

2. As early as possible in his service the mind of the young officer must be turned to the broad principles of war by sea and land. His interest must be awakened. He must be put in touch with the right books, and must be made to feel the importance of the military aspect of his profession. The existing curriculum at Dartmouth and on the cruiser is already too full; and until the officer has reached the rank of Lieutenant I see no immediate opportunity of adding to his instruction. But thereafter his ‘Military Education’ should be provided for in two ways. First: Every Lieutenant should go through a military course of (say) two months during the first four years of his service. The course to be prepared by the Training Division of the War Staff; aim, thoroughness in a simple and strictly limited sphere. The course to conclude by a standard examination to test only what the pupil remembers of his instruction. It would be preferable to hold the courses at Greenwich continuously. Thus a good scheme of instruction adapted to the class of officers and the limits of time will develop and uniformity will be established; and young officers will be accustomed to associate Greenwich with the study of war.

All specialist officers, submarine and air service officers included, must go through this course.

In exceptional circumstances, where exigencies of service do not allow, extension to within the first six years may be granted.

The course will be obligatory on officers now under two years’ service as Lieutenant. There should be four courses a year; the first to begin October, 1914. It should be voluntary for officers now over two years’ service as Lieutenant.

(Let me have calculations about numbers which can be handled during the first five courses; and make proposals for giving effect to the above scheme in detail.)

No grading as Assistant War Staff Officers will result from this course, and no certificate will be given or letters printed after an officer’s name. It is a pure matter of routine, and a necessary qualification of all future naval officers. The college authorities will, however, keep a register of officers, and report upon their general aptitudes for staff work and tactical subjects. This will be of use later in considering claims to compete for entry into the War College.

Secondly, as soon as practicable (if possible, next time) an examination should be held for entry into the War College for the War Staff Course. This examination should be competitive. It will be open to all Commanders and Lieutenant-Commanders, or Lieutenants who will be Lieutenant-Commanders before the course is completed, whose names are submitted by the Flag Officers under whom they are serving and who are approved as candidates by the Admiralty. A proportion of vacancies will be assigned to each rank. The results will be published. The object of this examination will be to test ability for staff work. In the first instance the tests will have to be of a simple character, but gradually, as the military education of the naval officer develops, they can be stiffened and extended. The examination will be conducted by the War College according to principles prescribed by the War Training Division. Intending candidates will be notified three months in advance of the subjects in which they should prepare themselves.

When an officer is successful in the competition, but owing to foreign service or other exigency cannot at once attend the War Course, he may be allowed to take a vacancy next time.

Captains of Ships and War Staff Officers afloat will aid officers to prepare themselves for this examination.

War Staff Training.

3. The successful candidates will enter the War College at Greenwich as residents for War Staff training. This course must for the present be limited to one year, but later it should be extended to eighteen months. As an examination will be held every six months, there will at the beginning be two batches under instruction, rising later to three. This will give the necessary numbers at the College. The period of this course, provided the officer gives satisfaction, should, in my opinion, count as sea service.

On completing the course, the officers who have qualified may be placed upon the War Staff List, with the approval of the Admiralty, as at present, and will then be available for staff employment.

(B.)—Development of the Admiralty War Staff.

1. Two years have passed since this body was instituted, and both the progress made in the Admiralty and the acceptance of the idea by the Fleet justify a further advance.

Three main questions have arisen:—

(1) The creation of a Trade Division.

(2) The preparation of Manuals and direction of training generally.

(3) The detachment of the Mobilization Department from the War Staff.

I have come to the conclusion that the first essential is the creation of a War Training Division, under a Director, and equal in importance to the Operations and Intelligence Divisions. This division will be charged with the theoretical direction and co-ordination of all tactical and strategical exercises and instruction whether in the Fleets or at the Colleges. It will, of course, have nothing to do with the education which fits a cadet to become a naval officer, or with the training of Specialists of any kind, or with the training which fits a boy to become an able seaman. All this is in the Administrative sphere and belongs to the Second Sea Lord. The War Training Division is concerned only with what the naval officer learns about war, what tactical use the gunnery and torpedo experts make of their weapons, and what exercises are prescribed for the Fleets and Squadrons.

2. Nothing in the work of this division will relieve Flag Officers from their present duties and responsibilities in the training of their commands. But henceforward they will work on regularly explored and considered lines, and within limits which are the result of collective thought and experience; and henceforward continuity and uniformity will be preserved by a central direction and co-ordination, which gathers up and authorizes the established conclusions, without restricting reasonable initiative. It is no answer to the advocates of such a Division, to say that war training is given by the Commanders-in-chief at sea, and that war training is in the department of the First Sea Lord. The Commanders-in-chief change repeatedly, and with them their personal instruction changes, very often without leaving a trace behind. The First Sea Lord cannot possibly prepare manuals of tactical and strategic instruction. This work can only be done by a regular department permanently at work.

3. I propose, therefore, in principle to constitute without delay a War Training Division of the Admiralty War Staff. This division will be organized under a Director (D.T.D., short for D.N.T.D.) in three sections, denominated respectively x, y, and z.

The following will be the main distribution of duties:—

(x) Manuals and Exercises.

Preparation and revision of all Training Books and Manuals (other than technical or administrative) including Signal Books in their tactical aspect.

Preparation of manœuvre schemes.

Report and criticism of manœuvres.

Record and criticism of tactical and strategic exercises.

Advice upon the initiation of experiments (other than technical or administrative), upon the organization of units, upon War Establishments, and upon the tactical aspects of New Construction.

Distribution of War Staff publications.

(y) War Colleges: Examinations and Courses.

Supervision of War Colleges and all war educational arrangements.

Examinations and courses in tactical and strategic subjects.


(z) Historical.

The staff of this new division will be formed in part by reductions from the Mobilization and Operations Divisions (some of which latter’s work is taken over); and in part by an addition to the Estimates for which Treasury sanction will be required. As a set-off against this there is the economy of reducing an Admiral by bringing the War College to Greenwich.

Nine or ten officers (some of whom can be retired officers) should suffice with the necessary clerks and writers.

Let me have proposals on these lines with estimates.

4. The Operations Division will have been to some extent relieved by the formation of the War Training Division. It must, however, be augmented by the addition of a new section (the Manning Department) dealing with War Mobilization, which will be explained later; and, secondly, by the new Trade Defence Section. This latter is clearly only a part of the Operations sphere. It is grouped with Operations because the defence of trade is essentially an offensive operation against the enemy’s armed ships.

The Operations Division will, therefore, be organized in four sections—(a), (b), (c), and (d)—as follows:—

(a) War Plans.

Distribution of the Fleet.

Schemes of attack of all kinds.

Joint naval and military action.

C.I.D. work.

War Room.

(b) Coast Defence.

Plans for the employment of

   Patrol Flotillas.

   Air Craft at the Naval Air Stations.

   Coastal submarines.

Organization of Signal and Wireless Stations.

Examination Service.

Distribution of Intelligence along the coast.

Joint naval and military action in coast defence.

Home Ports Defence Committee.

Overseas Defence Committee.

(c) Trade Defence.

All arrangements for the direction of trade in time of war.

All naval questions connected with food supply.

Armed merchantmen.

Distribution of warships for the control of the trade routes.

International law.

All relations with the Mercantile Marine.

(d) War Mobilization.

Supervision of the arrangements of the Manning Department for the mobilization of the Fleet.

Advice upon the complements of ships.

Attention is drawn to the minute of the Secretary on the proposed issue of charts and returns to the Trade Division. This necessity is not proved. The staff of the new section must be reconsidered accordingly.

5. The Intelligence Division requires little change, but should, in principle, be divided into three sections, as follows:—

(l) Potentially hostile countries.

(m) Friendly countries.

(n) Neutral countries.

Section (l) is to be charged with the new duty of preparing war plans for the hostile countries separately or in combination against us alone or allied, showing both—

(1) What they will probably do against us.

(2) What would be the worst they could do against us. From time to time war games will be played between the Intelligence and Operations Divisions.

Section (m) will likewise report on the needs and dangers of the friendly countries and study the measures best adapted to strengthen them in peace and war.

These new duties open to the Intelligence Division a large creative and imaginative sphere, and offer opportunities for the highest tactical and strategic ability.

6. The Mobilization Division is not well named. Mobilization is a small and infrequent part of the duties of this division. Mobilization is, indeed, a comparatively unimportant feature in our naval system, all the more powerful vessels being constantly in full commission, and the Second Fleet requiring only to be ‘completed.’ The day-to-day provision of complements for ships commissioning, and the intricate arrangements connected therewith, constitute the staple of the work of this Department.

Further, its duties are almost entirely administrative, and administration is foreign to the sphere of the War Staff.

I therefore propose that the Mobilization Division shall be separated from the War Staff, and shall be called the ‘Manning Department.

A section of the Manning Department will, however, be formed to deal with War Mobilization, and this section will work under the D.M.D., but in close association with the new Training Division of the War Staff.

Thus the whole administrative work connected with the manning of the Fleet will be left intact under the Second Sea Lord, while, at the same time, the War Staff will have included in its circle everything necessary to its reflective and organizing duties. I await definite proposals to give effect to this.

7. It is important that every officer serving in the War Staff should look for recommendation for advancement from the Chief of the Staff. I propose, therefore, that the Chief of the Staff should be allotted a proportion of recommendations as if he were a Flag Officer in independent command, and should make them to my Naval Secretary in the usual way for the half-yearly promotions. The Chief of the Staff will also initiate all recommendations for War Staff appointments and appointments to the Naval War College, and all lists of officers for war courses of all kinds will be proposed by him and submitted through the First Sea Lord to me.

The record books in the Private Office will be sufficient for general purposes, but a Staff Register should be formed for recording the War Staff capacities and services of officers whether at the Admiralty, the Colleges, or afloat, and a copy of this register will be kept written up to date in the Private Office.

It may be found necessary to add an officer to the personal staff of the Chief of the Staff.

8. I attach a skeleton chart of the new organization. (See chart.)

9. I add the following general observations. The divisions of the War Staff though separate are parts of one united organization. Each discharges its own functions in association with the others. They are not to do each other’s work. The Operations Division is not, for instance, to collect its own data. It is to accept them from the Intelligence Division. The Training Division is to accept the conclusions of the Operations Division and propose the Fleet for their execution. But there must also be unity and free intercourse between the three Directors. In order to promote and ensure this, the Chief of the Staff will be enjoined to hold every month a formal Staff meeting with his three Directors and any of their subordinates who may be required for the discussion of Staff questions, and the agenda and minutes of these meetings will be submitted through the First Sea Lord to the First Lord.

(C)—The Operations Staff Afloat.

I agree with the proposals of the Second Sea Lord as concurred in and amended by the First Sea Lord. This organization observes the principle of a clear division between the thinking and administrative branches.

The Captain for administration should bear the title of Flag Captain. The Captain of the ship should simply be styled ‘The Captain.’

The extra officers for the Intelligence and Operations ‘Groups’ (Divisions is too large a word and already taken) can be found from the War Training Division of the Admiralty War Staff which will cease to exist on mobilization. They should go afloat whenever large manoeuvres are in progress, and should be appropriated by name to their posts in war. The Commander-in-Chief should have no one on his staff in war that he does not know and has not worked with.

It is desirable that the Commander-in-Chief’s staff when formed should work out strategic and tactical exercises together at the War College, Portsmouth, or if possible at Greenwich, at least once a year, apart from actual manœuvres afloat, in order that each may know his exact function.

The approved form of the Fleet Flagship Staff is as follows:—

I approve also the Second Sea Lord’s proposals for the staffs of Squadron Flagships.

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