Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/776

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

German army, was carried to an extreme in the case of the chiefs of staff. Moltke himself was a chief of staff, the king, although more experienced than any officer in his army, deliberately accepting Moltke's guidance and assuming the responsibility for the orders that Moltke issued in his name. On several occasions the kings indeed formed a different conclusion from Moltke's and gave his orders accordingly, but these were exceptions. The effect of this, however, is not to deprive or to relieve the actual commander from the responsibility for the results of his action, whether that action was suggested by his own brain or by his staff officer's. Such an arrangement depends moreover on mutual confidence. The self-sufficing great commander does not need a Moltke, an average general is wholly ruled by his mentor; and between these two extremes the influence of the chief of staff varies according to circumstances and the character of the general. In the German armies of 1870, for example, the chief staff officer was in one case the reflector of his chief's views, in another he was the real army commander, in a third the characters of the two men were opposed in an almost paralysing equilibrium, while in a fourth the staff officer's business was to soothe and encourage an angry and disheartened commander and at the same time to “keep him straight.”

This delicate adjustment is a necessary result of the absorption—inevitable under modern conditions of war—of strategical and even tactical functions by the general staff. The serious risks of disunion within the headquarters—and 1870 proves that even “unity of doctrine” does not altogether eliminate this disunion—has to be faced, and is best insured against by the selection of officers appropriate to each other. The imagination and technique of Hess supplemented the vigorous common-sense of Radetzky; Blucher, with the single supreme military quality of character, could leave all the brain-work to his Gneisenau. But usually, unless other than purely military considerations determine the selection of the general-in-chief (in which case he can make the best soldier in the army—irrespective of seniority—his adviser), smooth and efficient working is best secured when the general and his chief of staff possess the same military qualities in different balance, each compensating the other's weaknesses and deriving strength from the other's good qualities. In the Prussian account of the war of 1859 Moltke writes:—

“Great captains have no need of counsel. They study the questions which arise, and decide them, and their entourage has only to execute their decisions. But such generals are stars of the first magnitude, who scarcely appear once in a century. In the great majority of cases the leader of the army cannot do without advice. This advice may be the outcome of the deliberations of a small number of qualified men. But within this small number one and only one opinion must prevail. The organization of the military hierarchy must ensure subordination even in thought, and give the right and duty of presenting a single opinion for the examination of the general-in-chief to one man, and one only. He will be appointed, not by seniority, but by reason of the confidence he inspires. The general-in-chief will always have, as compared with his adviser, the infinitely weightier merit of having assumed the responsibility of executing what he advises.”

Thus the chief of the general staff is defined in the British Field Service Regulations as the general's “responsible adviser on all matters affecting military operations, through whom he exercises his functions of command and by whom all orders issued by him will be signed.”

Staff Duties in the Field.—The manifold duties essential and incidental to commanding and administering an army, which the general performs, as above defined, through his staff, are in the British service classified broadly into three headings—general staff work, adjutant-general's work and quartermaster-general's work. The immediate head of the general staff, and (if the general delegates the duty) the supervising authority over the other staffs, is the chief of the general staff. The link between the army and the inspector-general or controller of its lines of communication is the quarter-master-general. All details required for insertion in general staff (i.e. “operation”) orders that come within the adjutant-general's or the quartermaster-general's branch are drafted by those branches in accordance with the general lines laid down by the general staff, and inserted in the orders issued by the general staff. “Routine” orders are drafted and issued by the other staffs themselves.

a. General Staff Duties {Operations).—The study of proposed opera- tions; the framing, issue and despatch of the operation orders; plans for movements to the points of concentration and for strategic deployment; general allotment of areas for quarters; measures of security; intercommunication; reconnaissance; acquisition, collation and distribution of information as to the enemy and the country ; flags of truce and correspondence with the enemy ; censorship; provision, distribution and revision of maps; reports and despatches relating to operations ; furnishing of the adjutant-general's and quartermaster-general's staffs with information as to the situation and probable requirements of the troops, and receiving from these branches such information as affects the operations in prospect.

b. Adjutant-General's Staff (Personnel).—Discipline; application of military law, martial law and international law, both to the army and to the civil population of occupied areas; questions of promotion, appointments of officers, pay, rewards, enlistments; chaplain's services; casualties and invaliding; medical and sanitary services; organization of new corps and drafts; prisoners of war; police ; routine and interior economy; ceremonial.

c. Quartermaster-General's Staff (Matériel).—Distribution of camps and quarters within allotted areas; supplies, equipment and clothing (except medical stores); transport by land and sea; railway administration; remounts; veterinary service; postal service.

The work of the lower staffs—divisions and brigades—is similarly subdivided as far as necessary. There are, moreover, the small personal staffs (aides-de-camp) of the army and divisional commanders. The work of the latter is not of course as important as it was under the old system, and is partly of a social character, partly orderly work. The headquarters staff of an army of six infantry and one cavalry divisions consists of: Personal Staff, 5 officers; General Staff, chief and 10 other officers; Adjutant-General's Staff, adjutant-general and 4 officers; Quartermaster-General's Staff, quartermaster-general and 3 officers; attached in various capacities, 28 officers. 232 non-commissioned officers and men are employed in the work of headquarters as clerks, printers, cooks, servants, &c. The staff of a division consists of: Personal, 2 aides-de-camp; General, 3 or 4 officers; Adjutant-General's, 1 officer; Quartermaster-General's, 1 officer; attached, 8 officers; rank and file attached, 64-80 men. A brigade staff consists of one general staff officer for opera- tions, a brigade major for administration, and one aide-de-camp: attached, 1 officer; rank and file, 33-45.

Staff Duties in Peace.—In modern conditions peace is normal and war exceptional ; moreover, as between European nations, the need of a swift decision of a quarrel is so urgent that immediately after mobilization and concentration, if not indeed during these preliminaries, the decisive action of the war may be begun. Success in such a war is the consequence of national spirit in the first place and of the peace training of all ranks in the second. The direction and supervision of the latter is the principal duty of a staff in time of peace, and therefore the specialization of staff functions, referred to above, in the three branches of operations, personnel and materiel, is as well marked in peace as in war. The two latter branches, which are concerned with the maintenance rather than the use of an army, are necessarily quite as fully occupied in peace as in war, for the life of the army is uninterrupted. But the “general staff” branch would not have enough work to justify a separate existence, were it not for the fact that on the battlefield nothing can be reaped that has not been sown. Nowadays, as the decisive battle immediately follows the concentration of the armies, the crop that is expected to be reaped must be sown in peace time. To this end the modern general staff in peace not only has an existence apart from the routine and supply staffs, but, as in war, occupies the first place in importance. In Great Britain, perhaps more than in any other state, the functions of training and administration are very sharply differentiated. Each commander-in-chief of a large group of garrisons has under him not only a brigadier-general at the head of the general staff, but a major-general “in charge of administration,” who in all questions of administration is the alter ego of the commander-in-chief. The latter is thus free to devote himself to the training of his troops, which he carries out through the medium of his general staff officers. Only those administrative questions that involve important decisions come before him, the whole of the routine work being carried out by the general in charge of administration in his own office and on his own responsibility.

In the War Office, the general staff work, under the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, is classified into three main heads, for each of which there is a general officer as “director.” These are: (a) Military Operations, in which all strategical matters connected with imperial defence and operations overseas are studied, (b) Staff Duties, which organizes and co-ordinates the whole of the general staff work, and also deals with questions of war organization. (c) Military Training, which supervises the Staff College and other educational institutions and also the Officers' Training Corps, and controls and in some cases conducts the professional examinations of officers and candidates for commissions. Under this branch is placed the section which arranges questions of home defence.

The administrative work is divided between the three departments of the Adjutant-General (peace organization, mobilization arrangements, record offices and routine orders, medals, regimental