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GROWTH OF ARMY EXPENDITURE, 1896-1907.
During 1905–06 and 1906-07, the Estimates of which years were of practically the same total, the peace expenditure of the Army may be said to have reached high-water mark; and I have been at some pains to analyse the causes of the great growth which took place between the years 1896-97 and 1906–07. In that period the Estimates, for peace services only, increased by 11,741,0001., of which 11,231,0001. was for effective services, and 510,0001. for pensions.
GROWTH OF PENSIONS.
Increases in the numbers of the Army and in scales of pension take many years before they produce their full effect on the non-effective votes; and, in regard to officers especially, the pensions now being paid pertain to a period when the Army was much smaller than at present. There is a further growth of 38,0001. in the noneffective votes this year, which now account for no less than 3,596,0001. out of the total Estimate of 27,760,0001. ; and unfortunately there is every prospect of this growth continuing for some years to come.
COST OF PERSONNEL.
Of the 11,231,0001. by which the Estimates for effective services in 1906-07 exceeded those for 1896-97, 9,301,000l. was due to the increased cost of personnel. After allowing for the increases on Medical Services (402,0001.), Army Reserve (405,0001.), Staff, Departmental Services and Schools of Instruction (842,0001.), Militia (487,0001.), Yeomanry (424,0001.) and Volunteers (625,0001.),* there remains 5,916,0001. as the increased cost of the Regimental units of the Regular Army. Of this sum, 3,300,0001. represents the cost of 1,660 officers and 41,800 men added to the Army; while the numbers existing in 1896-97 cost more by 2,616,000l. in 1906-07 than in the earlier year, the increase per head being about 231, for officers and 171. 7s. 6d. for men. Among the causes of these increases may be mentioned the additions made to the more expensive corps (Artillery, Engineers, Foot Guards, &c.), the larger force maintained at the most expensive station (South Africa), and the better scale of barrack accommodation, &c., now provided. But besides these causes, which apply to both officers and men, the average cash payments to the individual soldier have been increased, by the grant of messing allowance, kit allowance, and service pay, to the extent of some 101. a-year, after allowing for the abolition of deferred pay. The question of the soldier's emoluments is further dealt with below, under the head of Service and Proficiency Pay. Meanwhile, it may be mentioned that a sum of 49,0001. is included in the Estimates of 1907-08 for the provision of better furniture for married soldiers' quarters; for the furnishing of separate dining rooms for the rank and file in barracks where the necessary space can be found, and of rooms for the use of the Army Temperance Association; and for improving the furniture of serjeants' messes. In the years 1902-03 to 1906-07 a total sum of 135,0001. was provided for similar purposes.
On the other hand, the pay of regimental officers has remained practically unchanged. The Lieutenant-Colonels commanding regiments of Cavalry and battalions of Infantry, with their heavy responsibilities and the many calls to which they are exposed, are badly paid as compared with the officers serving under them; and I hope to be in a position to effect some improvement in the pay of these and possibly other Lieutenant-Colonels in the coming year.
* Owing to an alteration in the date of payment of Capitation allowances amouuting to 200,0001. in 1896, the sum actually voted for the Volunteers in 1896–97 was less by 825,0001. than in 1906–07.
CHARGES OTHER THAN PERSONNEL The chief factors of the increase of 1,930,0001. under this head were the growth of Loan annuities (894,0001.), the larger numbers of horses maintained (544,0001.), and the increased charge for warlike stores arising from the special provision in 1906–07 of 1,187,0001. for new Horse and Field Artillery equipments.
1907-08 COMPARED WITH 1906-07. Without entering upon an exhaustive analysis of the Estimates of 1907-08 on the above lines, the savings of 2,036,0001. in those Estimates may be allocated approximately as follows : Reductions in cost of personnel :
980,000 Colonial and Channel Islands Militia
17,000 Volunteers ::
STAFF, COMBATANTS AND DEPARTMENTAL SERVICES. The total effective charge for personnel of the Regular Army (excluding the War Office and the Army Reserve) in 1907-08 is 15,261,0001., of which 400,0001. is for Staff, 12,391,0001. for Cavalry, Artillery, Engineers and Infantry, and 2,470,0001. for Medical and Departmental Services (including Labour Establishments).
ESTABLISHMENTS OF THE REGULAR ARMY.
The establishments of the several arms of the Regular Army have been subjected to a methodical examination, special attention having been directed to the two chief determining factors, viz., the Colonial and Indian garrisons to be maintained in peace, and the force which can be put into the field in an organized form.
FIELD FORCE. An Order was published in January last providing for the reorganization of the Home part of the Regular Army. The basis adopted was simply that of taking the number of combatant units actually in existence at Home and necessary for the maintenance of the Colonial and Indian garrisons, and organizing these units into a force containing a due proportion of all arms; the size of the Field Force thus being limited by the establishment which it is necessary to preserve in order to find drafts and reliefs for the force abroad.
The Army at Home, so organized, will furnish a Cavalry Division of four Brigades, six İnfantry Divisions of three Brigades each, and a complement of Army troops and troops for lines of communication. The Divisions have been arranged on a larger scale of three Brigades in order to make then correspond with the organization of the British Army in India. To make the new organization possible, it has been necessary carefully to consider what parts of the existing organization were defective. It was found that, owing to the deficiency in administrative elements, such as Ammunition Columns, Army Service Corps, and Army Medical Corps, it would be, as things at present stand, impossible to mobilize as a fully organized force much more than half of the existing combatant units. With a view, among other things, to making possible the provision of these deficiencies, reductions have been made in Regular combatant establishments, surplus to what is required for the organization of the six Divisions, amounting to about 16,000 men.
Of the 99 batteries of Field Artillery now at Home, only 66 are required for the mobilization of the six Divisions; though of these, owing to the present deficiency of reservists to complete ammunition columns, only 42 can be mobilized. The 33 surplus batteries it is proposed to form into training brigades which will train men on a non-Regular basis, to bring the personnel of the Artillery up to its full requirements, including the ammunition columns now lacking.
No reduction, however, of the establishments of the Regular Artillery can properly be made until personnel, trained on a non-Regular basis to the requisite extent, is ready to fill the gap. All the battery establishments of Horse and Field Artillery consequently remain for the present unchanged; certain economies wholly unconnected with this question have however been effected in the establishments of Artillery depôts.
Of the other troops surplus to the requirements of the new organization, two battalions of Foot Guards have been dispensed with, and disbandment has been ordered. One has already ceased to exist, but the other, the 3rd Bn. Coldstream Guards, is usefully employed in temporarily strengthening the British Force in Egypt. The necessity of finding, with due regard to economy, the money necessary for making good the deficient elements in the new force renders it impossible to maintain units of any arm in excess of its due proportion.
Eight battalions of the Line have been reduced from the Colonial Establishment, as described below, but as the Home battalions perform the vital function of providing drafts for battalions abroad, no more could be dispensed with while the force abroad remains at its present establishment.
Steps are being taken to make good the considerable deficiencies which, as already stated, exist in administrative troops, such as medical, transport, and other departmental services. It would, however, be both extravagant and unnecessary to give all the personnel of these services the costly training of the British regular soldier. Careful investigation is in progress as to what proportion of this personnel is required at the beginning of the campaign to consist of fully-trained Regulars, and what proportion may be civilians specially trained for a sufficient period. The necessary plans for providing this non-Regular personnel, or Special Service Division, and giving it the necessary training, are being closely worked out.
Infantry. The consideration by the Committee of Imperial Defence of the garrisons maintained at Colonial stations has enabled the Army Council to make the withdrawal above referred to of eight battalions of British Infantry-four from South Africa, two from Malta, one from Gibraltar, and one from Ceylon, which will be replaced by a Native battalion.
On the other hand, the establishment of all battalions remaining in the Colonies has been raised from 766 to 840 rank and file. This increase in the strength of the 10 battalions remaining in South Africa, together with the addition of a fifth Cavalry regiment there, very largely compensates for the reduction made. The result of these changes is to reduce the number
of Line battalions abroad (including India) from 85 to 77, so that, if the present total number of 156 Line battalions were maintained, we should have, for the first time since the Cardwell system was established, a majority (79) at Home. But these eight battalions are not required for the Field Force; their disbandment leaves us with only the manageable number of three two-battalion regiments with both battalions abroad, as against seven in the establishments of 1906–07, and under present conditions the Government considers that their retention on the Home establishment would not have been justified. The realization of the Cardwell ideal of equal numbers at Home and abroad, thus brought within reasonable distance, may not be long delayed.
It has also been found possible to remove two Native Indian battalions from Mauritius, one going to Ceylon to replace the British battalion withdrawn, and one returning to India, where it is no longer a charge upon Army Votes; and to disband the Chinese Regiment.
Garrison Artillery. A joint Naval and Military Committee, under the presidency of General Sir J. F. Owen, after completing an examination of the fixed coast defences at Home stations, undertook a tour of inspection to examine into the armaments of our Coaling stations. Their recommendations have led to considerable reductions in Garrison Artillery establishments at Home and abroad; but the proposed changes have not yet all been fully worked out.
ESTABLISHMENTS AND TERMS OF SERVICE.
The number of units of each arm to be maintained on the Home establishment having been fixed, the question of the peace establishment to be assigned to each unit remains. This and the closely allied question of the length of the soldier's service with the Colours and in the Reserve form a subject of considerable complexity, requiring for its proper treatment much careful calculation and study of several factors, among which may be mentioned the proportion of the strength of each arm abroad to that at Home, the drafts necessary and the organization for finding them, the possibilities of recruiting, the regular reservists required on mobilization and to make good waste in the field, the length of service necessary to make an efficient soldier of the several arms, the strength necessary for a unit in peace for training purposes, &c. This investigation is not yet complete for all arms of the Service, but much has been done towards putting this part of the subject on a scientific and, it may be hoped, a permanent basis. The following have been fixed as the periods of Colour service for the principal arms :Cavalry and Infantry
7 years (with 5 in Reserve); Horse and Field Artillery. 6 years (with 6 in Reserve); Garrison Artillery
8 years (with 4 in Reserve); with power to retain a man for such portion of an additional year with the Colours as may be necessary, if he be abroad on completing his term of Colour service.
Notwithstanding the return to the shorter period of Colour service for Infantry of the Line, and the consequent eventual increase in the Indian and Colonial drafts, the Army Council are satisfied that the establishment of each Home battalion admits of being reduced from 750 to 720 rank and file.
Cavalry. The Cavalry organization represented in the Estimates of 1905-06, and provisionally continued in those of 1906-07, depended upon the formation of two large depôts for supplying drafts to regiments abroad. The buildings and training grounds necessary for these depôts do not exist, and it has
the regiments at Home at an establishment which will enable them to find drafts for those abroad. The details of the Cavalry organization are, however, not yet fully settled.
An Army Order was issued in September last, creating a General Staff for the Army, thus completing the reform begun, under my predecessor, by the creation of a Department of the Chief of the General Staff in the War Office itself.
For many years the Commanders-in-Chief at Malta and Gibraltar have also been charged with the responsibilites of the civil government of those Colonies; and it has been necessary to provide a complete staff, general, administrative and personal, on a liberal scale at each station. At the same time these two commands, as well as the third Mediterranean command of Egypt, have been entirely independent of one another, without any provision for co-ordination except through the War Office itself. In view of the progress made with decentralization from the War Office, it has been decided to appoint a purely military Commander-in-Chief, with no civil duties, for the Mediterranean as a whole, to be stationed at Malta. No increase in cost of any
kind will result from the new arrangements.
SERVICE AND PROFICIENCY PAY.
An alteration of some importance has been effected in the rules under which the soldier draws his pay. Under the scheme of general three years' enlistments it was necessary to hold out a substantial inducement to the soldier to extend his service with the Colours to eight years, in order to supply drafts to India and other garrisons abroad; and this inducement took the form of “service pay” at rates varying from 4d. to 7d. per day, payable to men of two years' service and upwards who so extended. This service pay however, which was costing the country over a million a year, failed to induce men to cxtend in the requisite numbers and for some time grave difficulty was experienced in supplying India with drafts. The general three years' term of enlistment having consequently been abandoned, and the main principle of the system of service pay, viz., payment for length of service, having therewith disappeared, it became necessary to reconsider the general question of the soldier's emoluments.
It appeared, in the course of enquiry, that the giving of extra pay merely for extension of service, without any qualifying standard of military efficiency, threatened to militate seriously against the efficiency of the Army. Men no longer found it worth their while to qualify as signallers or other specialists or even, in some cases, to take up the duties and responsibilities of noncommissioned officers. On the advice of the Army Council, and in accordance with the recommendations of a predominantly military committee, an important change has been made. Subject to the vested rights of individuals in the Service at the time the change took effect, extra pay will no longer be given for mere length of Colour service; but men of over 2 years' service will be eligible for Proficiency Pay, at rates of 3d. or 6d. a-day, each rate being given only for the attainment and maintenance of a defined standard of skill in musketry, signalling or some other branch of military proficiency, together with a 3rd Class Certificate of general education. This proficiency pay will not be given in specialised corps such as the Royal Engineers and Army Service Corps, the men of which already draw, in addition to their regimental pay, varying rates of “corps” or other special pay according to their skill in their own special duties. Various minor restrictions formerly adhering to the grant both of service pay and of the messing allowance of 3d. a-day, have at the same time been withdrawn.