United States. War Dept.

Statement made by the Secretary of War to the Committee on Military Affairs of the House of Representatives : Thursday, January 6, 1916 online

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Online LibraryUnited States. War DeptStatement made by the Secretary of War to the Committee on Military Affairs of the House of Representatives : Thursday, January 6, 1916 → online text (page 1 of 3)
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The occasion is ripe for this Congress to perform a service of the
very greatest importance to the people of this country. The :if tou-
t-ion of the people has been directed toward the subject matter ami
is now concentrated upon it. One of the fundamental reasons for tho
adoption of a Constitution for the Union was to provide for the
common defense. Proper measures have never been taken to this
end in time of peace. The people of the country are now insisting
that such proper measures shall be taken. They are looking to those
who represent them in the National Government to do that which
is wise and proper. It is a great opportunity and a great responsi-
bility, which can only be met properly by the fullest appreciation
of the magnitude of the issue and of the imperative and vital neces-
sity of wise action concerning it. The integrity of the Nation and
its very existence may depend upon what is done in this matter at
this time. This great opportunity will be lost unless a wise, sensible,
and practical military policy is the result of the consideration and
action of this Congress. ,

I take it that the people have passed beyond the point of requiring
further debate or reasons for the necessity for such action. I have
endeavored briefly to set forth those fundamental considerations,
showing such necessity, in the annual report submitted by me to the
President, and shall not here repeat the same. I propose, with your
permission, to address myself now to the question of the policy i

Before coming to specific recommendations it is necessary << deal
with those general considerations which must be in mind before any
proper determination can be reached.

Besides continental United States, including Alaska, our military
responsibilities embrace Porto Rico, the Panama Canal. Hawaii, the
Philippine Islands, and the small force making part of the interna-
tional guard of the railroad from Tientsin to Peking, in China.
We have determined and announced that the sovereignty of the other
Republics on this hemisphere shall remain inviolable, and must there-
fore at all times stand ready to make good our position in this con-


We have erected coast defenses, which, more properly termed, are
harbor defenses, at various places in continental United States and'
elsewhere, and have stationed troops of the different arms of the
service in this country and in the other places mentioned. At this
time we have a combatant force of 765 officers and 14,148 enlisted men
of Cavalry; 252 officers and 5,535 enlisted men of Field Artillery;
1,562 officers and 35,938 enlisted men of Infantry, exclusive of 182
officers and 5,733 enlisted men of Philippine Scouts; 249 officers and
1,942 enlisted men of Engineers; 106 officers and 1,472 enlisted men
of Signal Corps; and in addition thereto 715 officers and 19,019
enlisted men of Coast Artillery. These troops on June 30 last were
distributed as follows:

Geographical distribution.




In the Unitec 1 States

3 502

64 756

68 258

In Alaska

' 23



In the Philippine Islands:
Regular \rniv


12 454

12 W9

Philippine Scouts




In China . .


1 361

1 406

In Porto Rico






9 199


In the Isthmian Canal Zone


6 151

6 343

Troops en route and officers at other foreign stations





M 798

5 101 195

105 993

1 Includes 97 first lieutenants of the Medical Reserve Corps on active duty.

Includes 3,993 enlisted men of the Hospital Corps and 4,388 enlisted men of the Quartermaster Corps.

These are all the forces directly raised, supported, and controlled
by the Federal Government.

The only other military force in the country is the National Guard.
All of the States and the District of Columbia, excepting the State
of Nevada, maintain units of militia, raised, officered, trained, and
governed by the respective States, armed by the United States, which
also prescribes the type of organization and the discipline.

The Federal Government appropriates directly for the militia
approximately on an average $6,000,000 annually.

For the support of the Army the current appropriation is $101,-
959,195.87. In general, this is divided as follows :

Pay, etc $48, 974, 442. 52

Subsistence 9, 943, 384. 64

Transportation 10, 626, 518. 00

Clothing and equipage 6, 693, 000. 00

Regular supplies 7, 661, 360. 00

Barracks and quarters 2, 467, 558. 00

incidental expenses 1, 872, 163. 00

Water and sewers 1, 656, 254. 00

Roads and walks 600, 000. 00

Miscellaneous appropriations Quartermaster Corps not included

-in above.. 1,653,075.71

Ordnance Department ' N). 00

Medical PoiiartnuMir M'*, 000.00

Oflice Chief Signal (Mlieer ,,M < ); >

Kngimvr IVimrtinci-l -KNI. (M)

< 1 nnlini;e!!riis of the Army ^,

(Hllce Chief of siaiv " 72,600:00

Adjutant (^eneml's 1 >eparliiHMi( :'l<). (H>

ruder < 1 liief (f Coast Artillery liX, (MM). (K)

Bureau of Insular Affairs

Miscellaneous 70, r.oo. 00

It will be perceived that (he item of pay, including the different
compensations paid to the Army personnel, nearly equals (he amount
expended- for all other purposes; that subsistence requires almost 10
per cent of the total appropriation; transportation a fraction more
than 10 per cent; equipage, including clothing, nearly 7 per cent;
regular supplies, 7.5_> per cent. And the remaining principal items
are ordnance, 7.f>;> per cent ; medical, 0.79 per cent ; barracks and quar-
ters, ( 2A'2 per cent; incidental expenses, 1.84 per cent; water and
sewers at military pests, 1.02 per cent; roads, walks, wharves, and
drainage, 0.59 per cent. These items taken together aggregate at
least 97 per cent of the total expenditures for the support of the

The amounts paid for upkeep of buildings are extremely small;
for light, water, fuel, etc., they contrast favorably with any private
establishment of any considerable size. Supplies are purchased as
cheaply as possible, and each post buys in its own locality unless wo
can furnish them as cheaply or cheaper from a center of distribution.
Pay, allowances, clothing, etc., are fixed and regulated by law. Tho
item of transportation seems large, but the reasons therefor are con-
vincing when the facts are realized. Apart from our water trans-
portation, in connection with our outlying garrisons, the vast spaces
in this country explain the large amount paid for this item. Since
this matter of area in continental United States enters into many
other phases of the problem besides transportation) it is useful to
state the following facts in connection therein. If you consider the
area of the United States, including Alaska, as 100 per cent, the
combined areas of all the following countries are but 97 per cent
thereof. The area of each, expressed as a percentage, is also include. 1 :


Austria-Hungary <-. <'<>

Belgium . ::i

British Isles :i. :M

Buliraria l.<tf

Denmark . -l.'J

Franco ;">. c>4

("Jormany .". 7(J

Greece . CO


Per cent.
Italy 3.06

Japan 4. 46

Portugal .99

Russia (in Europe) _ 57.95

Spain 5. 41

Turkey (in Europe) 1.73

Neither Austria-Hungary, France, nor Germany is as large as
Texas; each is about twice the size of Colorado; Japan is about the
size of California, Italy of Nevada, and Portugal of Indiana.

It will of necessity be conceded by anyone who admits that mili-
tary force is requisite at all that our present military force is totally
inadequate to meet our responsibilities.

The only other provision with respect to military force is the vol-
unteer law. Under it, after Congress has specified the number of
men to be raised, the Executive may issue calls, make allotments, and
set about recruiting, examining, enlisting, clothing, arming, organiz-
ing, officering, sheltering, training, and disciplining volunteers. The
chaos which a crisis always produces where preparations in advance
have not been made makes it certain that several months would of
necessity intervene after the outbreak of war before any considerable
number of volunteers would be ready to take their training, and
months of training must then ensue before they would be ready to be
sent into battle. In addition to the personnel, accumulated materiel
must also have been prepared, for the great lengths of time must be
considered which are necessary to produce it.

Before the question can be taken up of the wise solution of the
problem we must, first, determine exactly what the problem is that
we are seeking to solve. There is a disposition upon the part of some
to assume that we are facing a crisis and must immediately set about
meeting it. Their disposition is to ask that all those measures should
be taken which would tend to the immediate preparation of this
country for immediate warfare. If their assumption is correct, then,
of course, their conclusion is correct also. The only way to meet any
emergency is by adopting emergency measures. The personnel and
materiel needed for military purposes should be immediately mobi-
lized. Every nerve should be strained, and every resource drawn upon,
and nothing overlooked necessary to preserve and defend us. Noth-
ing would be proper in this view short of immediate measures vesting
the fullest authority in the executive departments to proceed re-
gardless of cost and of other considerations.

This, however, in my judgment, is not the proper view to take
nor the proper procedure to be followed.

In my view the occasion calls for the adoption of a wise, sensible,
adequate military policy on permanent lines and for definite ends.

Not considering for the present the situation outside of continental
United States and confining ourselves thereto, and not considering
the harbor defenses at the present time, there is common :i-n . ment
among those who have studied (lie subject, inte!li-enlly (hat we,
should have a force of 500,000 men subject to instant call. The rea-
sons which induce this conclusion will be found set forth in the re-
port made to me by the War College Division of the General Staff,
printed as an appendix to my own report.

Modern warfare, while it has demonstrated the increased use of
mechanical instruments of war, has also demonstrated the incre;
use of numbers. In addition, therefore, to those with the colors sub-
ject to instant call there should be at all times in the country larire
numbers of men available, by reason of previous service, for mili-
tary purposes.

Our immediate problem, therefore, seems to be, How shall we meet
these requirements ?

There can be no question that, from the standpoint solely of effec-
tiveness, nothing would so completely meet the situation as a regular
standing army of professional soldiers enlisted for a long period of
time and thoroughly drilled, trained, and disciplined. Leaving aside
for the present all consideration of any other matter entering into
this question than that of raising such an army and maintaining it,
we must give attention to the following facts: We have at this time
in this country accommodation for only about 50,000 of such an
army. We should, therefore, have to provide accommodation for
450,000 more. We should either have to build upon existing Govern-
ment reservations or upon sites to be selected and bought all of tho.-e
things necessary for the housing, training, etc., of troops, at a cost
which can not even be approximated until it is determined where
such new sites are to be. We should have to use everything we have
in reserve and to obtain all that which we have not already neces-
sary fully to equip this vast number. We should have to find thou-
sands of officers competent to train these new recruits. We should
have to enlarge to a very great extent all of the administrative
departments to handle such an army, and should in each one of
such departments have to train competent officers for their very com-
plex and difficult tasks.

The expense attendant upon these matters which have just been
briefly adverted to would amount to hundreds of millions, and the
upkeep of the force, after it was fully equipped, sheltered, officered,
and trained, would mean an. outlay approximating half a billion dol-
lars a year. And this without regard to keeping up fortifications and
laying by the necessary reserves of materiel which it is imperative
should be done. The Adjutant General of the Arm}', after a most
careful consideration of the whole subject matter and personal atten-


tion thereto, reaches the conclusion that he can not expect under pres-
ent conditions to recruit more than 50,000 men per year for the Army.
Compulsory service would therefore be the only method of securing
men for this service. I shall speak later concerning compulsion. It
would therefore seem impracticable in the last degree to consider that
the problem can be solved by providing for a standing army of the
size necessary for this solution.

In addition to those practicable considerations, there are all those
reasons which make against the maintenance of a large standing
army in such a Nation as ours. I do not in any way share the fear
of those who think that proper military preparations involve any
interference whatever with the supremacy of the civil authorities.
I do, however, firmly believe that in a democracy the defense of the
Nation should rest upon the citizens, and not upon a professional,
paid military force, constantly under arms and devoted solely to
military pursuits. I think it is clear that from every standpoint we
can dismiss the suggestion that the situation should be properly met
by a standing army of 500,000 men constantly under arms.

The next matter for consideration, therefore, is what other mili-
tary force shall be provided for outside of and in addition to what-
ever standing army is finally determined upon. Since the size of the
standing army which shall finally be determined upon must to a
large extent depend upon what other force is provided for, that
question must be left for the present and we must take up the matter
of the provision for such other force first.

The mind naturally turns when it begins consideration of this
question toward the existing Organized Militia or National Guard
in the various States. The question that instantly comes to the mind
is whether it is possible and practicable to utilize this force for the
requisite national purposes.

At the present time this force consists of approximately 129,000
men and officers, and it would therefore be necessary if it is to be
expanded to 400,000 to add 271,000 men and officers.

If this policy should be attempted to be adopted, Congress would
first have to require the States to raise and maintain all of these
troops. Even if we assume that Congress has such power under the
Constitution, it is difficult to see IIOAV it could make it effective. If
this point is successfully passed, the States w r ould then have to prac-
tically treble their existing equipment in the way of military facili-
ties to take care of a force thus raised to about three times its present
number. I do not know whether Congress would have any power to
impose this burden upon the States, and assuming that it has the
power I do not see how it could make it effective. In any event there
would have to be not only acts of Congress attempting to make this
policy a success, but identical contemporaneous legislation in the 48

States to make effective such acts of Congress. It seems to me that a
mere statement of this situation indicates how utterly futile it is to
attempt this solution.

It is essential, if we are to view this matter in any adequate way,
to get down to the very truth of things, and to deal only therewith.
Each State, prior to the Constitution, maintained forces of its own.
It is well known to all of us that, at the time of the formation of tin-
Constitution, there was great distrust on the part of the individual
colonies of the use which might be made of the powers to be vested
in the Federal Government. It is difficult for us to realize that the
creation of a Federal Government such as the Constitution creates
was the result of pure reason by applied intelligence, since there was
no model or precedent of any value upon which to proceed. It is
little short of marvelous that so wonderful a product resulted, in
view of the circumstances. It was realized by the framers of the
Constitution that the Nation must be empowered in the most ample
manner to protect itself and the interests confided to its charge. It,
therefore, vested in the Congress of the Nation the most ample and
comprehensive power possible to this end. It gave it free and un-
qualified authority to raise and support an Army and Nav}-. The
States, however, desired to have within their own borders military
forces for their own purposes, and that right was reserved to them.
It was further provided that those forces within the States might-be
utilized by the Nation to suppress domestic insurrection, to aid in
enforcing the law, and to aid in repelling invasions. The Federal
Government was granted the power of furnishing arms to those
forces, to prescribe the type of organization to which they must con-
form, and to prescribe the discipline to be followed. The Federal
authorities were given no power of government, excepting when
these forces were called out for any one of the three purposes above
named. The Constitution absolutely vests in the State the right to
govern these troops, excepting when called out by the Federal au-
thorities, to officer them and train them.

It has very often happened in the history of the country that the
States have prevented their troops from responding to the call of
the National Government; they have even ordered their disbandment
to thwart the Federal Government. At all times, therefore, except-
ing when these forces are actually in the service of the Federal Gov-
ernment, under a call for one of the three purposes specified, they
are under the exclusive control, government, and command of the
State authorities, who raise, recruit, officer, and train them. In my
view, it is utterly impossible, so long as the Constitution remains as
it is, for the Federal Government to obtain the right to do anything
else than the Constitution specifies, or for the State authorities to
surrender legally any of the powers and rights vested therein. It is,
21133 16 2


of course, true that the Federal Government can make appropria-
tions of money for and on behalf of the National Guard, and can
annex conditions thereto so that the National Guard or the States in
which such guard exists can only obtain the money by fulfilling such
conditions, but this does not and can not alter the legal situation
existing under the Constitution. It may result, as long as it is
acquiesced in by all parties, in a much greater participation by the
Federal Government in the control, command, officering, and training
of these troops than the Constitution warrants, but it would not
stand the slightest legal test or strain, and there is, in my view, not
the slightest doubt that no enforceable obligation can arise out of any
such legislation that is to say, any legislation which seeks to give
greater right or power to the Federal Government over these forces
than the Constitution warrants. It is absolutely axiomatic that juris-
diction can not be acquired by consent, and can not, of course, be
any more successfully acquired by purchase. Wherever a constitu-
tion fixes the limits of jurisdiction, there they must stand until the
constitution is changed.

This situation has been recognized by every attentive student of
the matter almost from the very beginning of the practical operation
of the Government under the Constitution. Innumerable attempts
have been made to obviate the difficulties. They have usually taken
the form of what is termed federalizing the militia or federalizing
the National Guard. All such attempts have failed for the reason
which, in my judgment, makes it certain that all such attempts will
fail. So long as these troops are those raised by the States, under
the Constitution they can not be governed, officered, or trained by any
other authority than the State that is, no other situation can be
constitutionally produced. If by federalizing the militia it is meant
to take them out from under State authority and vest jurisdiction
and control under the National Government, then, of course, the
matter can readily be accomplished constitutionally, and they become
organized Federal troops, frequently referred to by military students
as Federal Volunteers, a phase of the subject to be later dealt with.
There is no one thing so free from dispute as that the basis of any
proper military system must be unity of responsibility, authority,
and control. It is absolutely impossible to have this essential unity
under the constitutional provisions with respect to the Organized
Militia or National Guard. This has been recognized, as I have
just said, almost from the beginning of the Government; certainly
from the time that experience served to demonstrate the utter ineffec-
tiveness of attempting to count upon a national military system com-
posed of those factors.

The suggestion that the situation can properly be met by some sort
of provision making these troops subject to call of the Nation for


all purposes, in case of war, instead of only for the three purposes
specified in the Constitution, overlooks and disregards (he funda-
mental basic trouble which this remedy does not even touch, much
less cure. The fundamental dillieulty, as has just been pointed out,
is not the inability of the Federal Government to utili/.e these troops
for all purposes in time of war. It arises from the inability of the
Federal Government, under the Constitution, to have that unity of
authority, responsibility, and control in time of peace which it must
have as the basis of any military system of any value whatever.

Without amplifying these views, I think I have sufficiently indi-
cated the reasons why I feel that we are utterly unwarranted in
attempting to erect a military system on so unstable a foundation, a
foundation which, after 125 years of attempt, has been shown to bo
utterly insecure and without value as a basis upon which to build.
Even, therefore, if there were no question about the States agreeing
to raise the 271,000 additional men and officers necessary, to provide
everything which it is their duty to provide for them, and to do all
those things which they can constitutionally do, and to permit the
Federal Government to do not only that which it constitutionally
may do but things far in excess thereof, it would, in my judgment,
present a foundation utterly without warrant for us to accept and
build upon. No one can possibly have any higher appreciation than
I have for the spirit which has animated the personnel of the National
Guard, particular!} 7 during recent years. They have striven under
adverse conditions and with a bad system to do the very best that
they could do, and in many cases they have done excellently. If it
were possible for me conscientiously to reach a conclusion which
permitted the use of the militia system or the National Guard as the
only other force outside of the Regular Army, I should have wel-
comed that conclusion. I do not see, however, how it is possible for
anyone who studies the situation to come conscientiously to any such

The National Guard, however, as it exists is a Federal asset. It is
not only usable for the three purposes specified in the Constitution,
but it is so circumstanced that it can volunteer for service in time of
war and be taken in as it exists; that is, each unit may come in as a
unit, up to and including regimental organizations. I therefore
propose a large addition to the Federal aid extended to the National
Guard, so that the system may be operated to its maximum capacity
and be available for the Federal purposes specified in its most effec-
tive condition. As will be seen, when we come to treat of the other

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Online LibraryUnited States. War DeptStatement made by the Secretary of War to the Committee on Military Affairs of the House of Representatives : Thursday, January 6, 1916 → online text (page 1 of 3)