Puslapio vaizdai

instruction which develops them as representative authorities in the better methods of intensive instructors of recruits.


AT the close of the school for recruits, the young militiaman is turned over to his branch of the army,-regiment, squadron, or battery, and the instruction of the class that he has already received in the temporary units of the school he will now complete in his definite branch of the service. The instruction that he there receives is called the repeated courses; that is to say, the periods of exercises and manoeuvers. These periods are designed for the purpose of keeping the soldiers in form and of preparing the army and its commanders for the exigencies of service in the field.

The course of repetition takes place every year and continues for two weeks. The soldiers and corporals are called to it up to the age of twenty-seven in the élite, and once again in the landwehr; non-commissioned officers and subalterns are called every year up to the age of

thirty-two in the élite, and in the landwehr every four years up to the age of forty-five. The superior officers in the élite are called every year until the expiration of their time of service.

In the succession of annual meetings the instruction for subaltern units is made to alternate with that of the great body of mixed troops. After a year in which the exercises have taken place in regiments, squadrons of cavalry and artillery companies, or in which the different branches of the army have worked alone, there will be manoeuvers of brigades or divisions for instruction in the movement of armies. One year is given to detail, another to the movement of large bodies of troops. Every one is short of breath and periodically finds occasion for perfecting his practice and his knowledge. In this manner, with the exception of some of the older soldiers, all the troops of the Swiss army are every year mobilized and held under the colors for two weeks.

Naturally, during these manoeuvers the troops work over different ground, quartering at home. Only the instruction of

[graphic][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]

recruits is given in barracks and on the parade-grounds. The units of the armies. are sent, except on rare occasions, near home, in all the conditions of service in the field, and are exercised not only in the tactics of combating forces, but in the service of sustenance, under conditions that approach as nearly as possible to those of actual war.


JUST so far as the officers are worthy, so far will the troops be worthy, it is said. It goes without saying that the shorter the periods of instruction, so much the more ought officers to be prepared for their duties. We have spoken of the practical instruction given in the schools for recruits by permanent officers. This alone would be insufficient. One must pay for his officer's stripes, says a Swiss adage. That signifies that every promotion is preceded by a term of probation in which no promotion is accorded without good work. The first selection is made as early as the school for recruits. There those soldiers who appear to possess the qualifications for non-commissioned officers and superior officers are noted; their social position is inquired into, in order that no sacrifice out of proportion to their re

sources may be imposed upon them, for no one has the right to refuse an advance in grade. In like manner their conduct in civil life is inquired into, and if the information thus obtained confirms the good opinion that the authorities have formed of them in barracks, they are called to a school for non-commissioned officers, from which they depart with the grade of corporal.

This rank leads to a second selection. The corporals selected for the staff of non-commissioned officers in the army become instructors in the school for recruits, and those considered fitted for the grade of officers are sent to a school for officers, where for nearly three months they are prepared for the grade of lieutenant. In practice, the future lieutenant, before being selected for instruction in a school for officers, has usually acted as a non-commissioned officer in the school for recruits. The young men who desire the grade of lieutenant are so numerous that there is never any difficulty in obtaining men who hesitate to give up the two or three months necessary for this additional training. If they successfully pass the examination in this school, it is necessary for them to attend the repeated course as chiefs of divisions, though now with the


rank of lieutenant. Only then can they feel that they have paid for their officers' stripes.

If now we account for the number of days of service that young men between the ages of twenty and twenty-one give Ito the army, following which they remain simple soldiers or become non-commissioned officers or lieutenants, we find in the infantry, the most numerous body, the following differences:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

82 days 67 days .318 days

The principle is the same for all subsequent promotions. If a lieutenant desires to gain the grade of captain, he must pass through at least eight repeated courses, a school for firing, the central school,that is to say, a school which brings together the future captains in all branches of the army, -and must act as chief of a company, of a squadron, or a battery in a school for recruits. The total of his days of service will reach 541, and if he has been considered qualified for the rank, he will still be called to take part in two courses in tactics, and must continue the annual courses of repetition until he has reached the age of thirty-five rather than thirty-two.

If one takes into account the fact that the pay of a lieutenant is six francs for every day of actual service, that of a captain ten francs, and that of a major eighteen francs, and remembers that for every man who in civil life is bound down by an exacting profession these frequent calls to the colors constitute a serious interruption in his professional gains, one may well understand that the military system rests on traditions of patriotism and self-denial.


Company IV of the 19th Battalion displaying their numerals in a moment of relaxation



ALL these periods of exercise and instruction succeed one another with periodical regularity. The danger is that between two periods a soldier may lose his intellectual and technical training. The law has therefore provided a program of courses of studies, carried on by numerous associations, which offer to their members supplementary military training. The society of officers and non-commissioned officers is charged, with others, with preparatory military instruction. The society of artillerymen, of bridge-makers, of hospital nurses, even of drummers, of gymnasts, and of sharp-shooting, have similar


A study of this program would carry one too far, but it is not possible to pass over in silence the societies of sharp-shooting, which are semi-official in character, the direction of which is under the joint charge of the Société Fédérale des Carabiniers and the military bureaus. The groundwork of the plan is a legal obligation imposed on every soldier who carries a gun to fire every year a certain number of bullets at a target. This holds good through the entire period of his military life. The program for the practice is arranged by the republic, and the work is supervised by certain delegated officers. If you travel by rail through Switzerland, along the way you will constantly see target-butts, more or less large, arranged in different ways; and if you walk through the country on a Sunday in spring, you will hear on all sides the reports of rifles of sharp-shooters at practice.

For every rifleman who fulfils the conditions of the program,-that is to say, who fires the required number of bullets and obtains the required result in precision, the republic returns to the society a subsidy slightly exceeding the price of the cartridges. The militiaman who has not met the requirements of the targetpractice is called, at his own expense, to the parade-ground, for a special course at target-practice, which lasts for three days.

A post of observation

Thus in Switzerland thirty million cartridges are shot every year, which represents an average of little less than a hundred cartridges for every inhabitant. This total shows not only the extent of the regular exercises for militiamen, but is also an indication of the numerous opportunities for every one to exercise himself in the really national sport of rifle-shooting. Target-firing is a certain feature of every popular feast in even the smallest villages, and not unfrequently militiamen. who have passed the age of military duties still fire two or three hundred service cartridges a year.


So far I have sketched the organization and instruction of the militia. It remains to show how the army passes from a peace to a war footing. In reality it is never on a peace footing. Every one of the periods of exercise and manoeuver consti

tutes a veritable mobilization of all the units called out—a mobilization equal to that of war.

Every militiaman keeps in his own home, and at his own responsibility, not only his uniform, but his arms and equipment. Every year, on a certain day, he is called out for an inspection of his clothing and his whole equipment; certain special inspectors, aides of subaltern officers, make note of their condition. Whatever has not been well cared for must be replaced by the militiaman at his own expense.

As a consequence, at the first call the militiaman can present himself with arms and baggage at the place of assembly of his company, where he has only to receive certain effects kept in the magazines of the regiment, like sappers' tools, etc. The cavalryman comes with his own horse, which he always cares for at home.

The troops are thus assembled and equipped in a minimum of time. The more so, indeed, because they find equally ready in the magazine of their regiments the greater part of the material that constitutes the equipment of the corps-ammunition-cartridges, kitchens on wheels, baggage-wagons, etc. Artillery companies find ready their cannon; the companies of sappers, their tool-wagons. The only carriages requisitioned are those used for the transportation of the men themselves; then come the teams for such carriages.

These requisitions are regulated in times of peace. Every community knows that on the first day of mobilization it will be necessary to send to the place of assembly so many horses and so many carriages. Here the owners of these horses and carriages find assembled the commissioners charged with the task of fixing the prices for conveyances. These commissioners do

their work while the regiment completes its organization, and in forty-eight hours the regiment is ready to proceed to the region of concentration of its division.

Everything, therefore, is done expeditiously, and the experience of 1914 has established the fact that in general the measures that have been adopted have all been well taken. The whole army-élite, landwehr, and landsturm-was mobilized simultaneously, and the completed task was done within the limits of the time planned.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to confess that in one essential matter there was failure. If the operations were rapid, there was still slowness in getting into line on the part of certain troops that did not wait for their reservists and marched with only the effective forces in times of peace.

The measures taken by Switzerland are full, provided her neighbors observe the rights of the people. But suppose that Germany had dealt to Switzerland the blow she dealt to Belgium? She would have found, in forty-eight hours, at the frontier only some companies of the landwehr, a force wholly insufficient to oppose the advance of a single corps of cavalry charged with the task of destroying the railroads.

There is therefore one reform to be studied closely. It would not be necessary if Switzerland were in the condition of a great country like the United States, for example, where the absence of neighbors on one side, and the extent of the country on the other, present barriers to a surprise.

But for the most part the system has commended itself, and appears to demand only a certain number of improvements in detail that in nowise alter the principle.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »