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MODERN TENDENCIES IN STRATEGY AND TACTICS AS SHOWN IN CAMPAIGNS IN
THE FAR EAST
Translated from the Kuikosha Kiji (Officers Club
Journal), No. 352, December 1906,
The wars in which Japan has recently been engaged, the Chinese and Russian campaigns and the Boxer trouble, provide one with many excellent strategical and tactical examples. If these be collected and classified, and compared with the recent great wars in Europe, of 1866, 1870-71, 1877-78, we find that they are in no way inferior to the latter in abundance and real substance of material for study. Especially the use of the latest weapons and sciences in war with Russia, and the employment of large forces, have given us much experience that is new. Further, joint operations of army and navy, landing operations, and the co-operation of men-of-war in land engagements, have occured for the first time in the Far East.
For convenience of discussion I have divided the subject into the following heads:--
1. The development of modes of transportation
and the employment of large numbers.
1. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE MODES OF TRANSPORT AND THE EMPLOYMENT OF LARGE NUMBERS
Formerly, when horses and wagons were the only means of transport, large forces could not be collected at a distance from their base owing to the difficulties of supply, and this was especially the case when the theater of war was subject to extreme cold. Even in the rich and fertile plains of Europe the cases of assembly on one battlefield of over 200,000 men on one side are very rare in history.
Although, at the Battle of Dresden, 26th-27th August, 1813, the combined Armies of Austria, Prussia, and Russia reached 200,000; yet they were only two or three days' march from their base of supplies. At the Battle of Leipzig of the same year, the combined Armies of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Sweden numbered 300,000, but they did not advance on the same line, and united from three directions, S., N., and E. Again, Napoleon assembled 400,000 or 500,000 men on the Vistula against Russia in June, 1812, yet he quartered them in several columns, and was never again able to collect all his force together.
With the adoption of railways for military purposes, the number of men brought into the field was suddenly increased. At the Battle of Koniggraätz, 1866, about 220,000 troops were employed on each side. In this war practically the whole of the forces on both sides were concentrated (Prussia, 290,000, Northern Army of Austria, 260,000).
To concentrate her army on the frontier Prussia used four lines of railway, each railway conveying about one army corps. However, after entering the enemy's territory, and up to the battlefield, the railway service had to be discontinued. The number of trains per day on each line did not exceed from 8-12. (The Austrians used one line of railway up to the front, and established there a large provision depôt.)
At the beginning of the war of 1870-1871, the Germans numbered 380,000, the French about 250,000; but the numbers on each side gradually increased, so that at the truce in April, 1871, there were 630,000 Germans and over 530,000 French in the field. The operations were scattered, and the greatest number in one engagement, namely at Gravelotte and St. Privat, were 187,000 Germans and 113,000 French. In siege operations, there were 197,000 Germans in the investment of Metz, and 200,000 surrounding Paris. The Germans concentrated their troops on the Rhine by means of six lines of railway, and after entering France they were fed by one, and subsequently two lines, leading straight to the rear. At the same time it must be remembered that the operations were in fertile country, and unless a prolonged stay was made in one place, the Germans were chiefly dependent on the enemy's supplies. The railways of this period carried double lines, 18 trains per day, single lines, 12 trains per day, each train consisting of 120 carriages.
The Russo-Japanese is the first war in the Far East in which railways have been used at the seat of war. At the Sha-Ho, about 200,000 and at Mukden, about 300,000 men, were assembled on each side, and before the truce Russia had concentrated 18 army corps, about 600,000 men, near Feng-hua and Kuo-chia-tien, and Japan had concentrated an army to oppose these. In order to concentrate and supply these forces, both sides were dependent on a single line of railway. This was especially noteworthy in the case of Russia, which had to depend on its immensely prolonged Siberian line (carrying at first only 7 trains a day, afterwards increased to 17-18, of which 10-13 only were for military purposes), and which had to supply a line at right angles to its direction. The Russians, however, requisitioned the greater part of their food supplies in Manchuria.
Examples, as the above, clearly demonstrate the gradual increase of the strength which can be brought into the field which has accompanied the development of modes of transportation. The idea that one line of railway could not supply 250,000 men became out of date. To day it is not impossible to run 40-50 trains on a double line, and 24 or 25 trains on a single line in a day; it should, therefore, be possible to move over 500,000 men by a single line, and it is easy to see that we shall be able to concentrate larger forces in the future, as improvements in rolling stocks, etc., increase the carrying capacity of a train.
Some people say that the time will come, when lack of funds and material will put a limit to the size of an army, that a few daring troops, carefully selected and trained, are preferable to these enormous masses. The maximum that a state can put into the field is all its young men who can bear arms, but the method of conscription obtaining affect the proportions of these men that are availed of. Except in France and Germany, and a few other States, the majority of the young men do not serve in the ranks, and this limit is still very far from being reached. Further, with the improvements in arts and sciences, and the gradual increase of the national resources, the handling of large numbers will become easier. In conclusion, we cannot yet see the time which the above critics say will arrive, when the limit to the size of an army will be reached, and a reaction will cause a reduction of military organizations.
I have alluded only to the railways, but as regards transport by sea, the increase inn number, tonnage, and speed of ships, improvement in navigation, and the construction of harbours, have facilitated the transport of a large force. In the Japan-China War only 1½ division could be sent to the Yalu, owning to ignorance of the course and the lack of ships. In the late war we were able to send 3 divisions, owning to the improvement in the etappen service, and, more especially, to better use of the sea route.
Besides the above, automobiles, light railways, and electric cars have already been, or seem likely to be, adopted for conveyance in war.
We see, therefore, that the development of transportation facilities will cause the employment of increasingly large numbers in the field, and it becomes more than ever necessary to improve military preparations, military organization, training, and the means of transport.
2. DEVELOPMENT OF MEANS OF COMMUNICATIONS AND DECREASE OF INDEPENDENT ACTION
Before the discovery of the telegraph, horses were the only means of communications. Leaders were obliged to concentrate their forces as much as possible, so as to have them at their disposal when needed. Unless it was unavoidable, troops were never detached, as the most rapid means of communicating with them was by orderly.
At this period it was considered best that the general in command should himself view the situation from the main position, and then issue the necessary orders to his generals. This method was not only quicker than orders based on reports, but gave more certainty of a correct and suitable appreciation of the situation.
For these reasons the commander-in-chief would ride about in every direction, and even appear in the front line. For instance, Napoleon's rapid decisions were arrived at in this way. Relays of horses were posted every 6 to 9 miles, and he was thus able to cover 80 miles in six hours and a half. Still, it was difficult to retain control over the whole of his force, and he was sometimes obliged to leave important decisions to his generals. Latterly, when the size of his armies grew with the increase of his power, his generals became accustomed never to move without his orders. This caused his downfall; for the employment of large numbers more than ever necessitates the delegation of control.
The use of the telegraph has made it much easier to retain control of a large force. This fact was demonstrated in the Franco-German War. Towards the end of the latter, the German Headquarters at Versailles were informed daily of the situation in different parts of the field, and issued their orders by means of the telegraph. There was no necessity, as formerly, to constantly shift the position of the headquarters. While it was possible to maintain communication with the rear of the fighting troops by means of the telegraph, owning to its somewhat "fixed" nature at that date, on the battlefield or while troops were in motion, there was still no other way but by orderly. Owning to the numbers engaged, subordinate leaders were often called upon to take independent action, and the natural readiness of German officers to act on their own initiative provided a number of instances.
Since then the means of communication have improved, the telegraph and telephone have been used on the battlefield, balloons have been used for reconnaissance and communication, wireless telegraphy and various means of signaling have been introduced, automobiles have done the work of orderlies.
The employment of large masses, the semi-permanent occupation of artificially prepared positions, the elapse of several days before the result is decided, all these reasons necessitate means of communications between several corps and detachments, and a network of telegraph and telephone lines is the result.
No need for personal initiative by subordinate leaders arises, their movements are brought under the single control of commander-in-chief. This phenomenon was witnessed in the Russo-Japanese War, the commander-in-chief, stationed at a central point, consistently receiving reports from different parts of the field, and issuing his orders accordingly. Further, the necessity for riding about in every direction disappears.
Where operations have a single objective, independent action is, if possible, to be avoided, but on the battlefield cases arise requiring prompt decision, and where there is no time to refer matters, as they occur, to superior authority. Also, when a force is in movement, when time does not allow the establishment of a telegraphic line, or when a breakdown occurs, these are cases that call for the exercise of independent initiative.
We cannot regard the continuance of a battle for 10 days or more, in an established position, as occurred in the late war, as a normal precedent. In the future, there will still be great need for personal initiative, and in the training of officers this must be kept in view. Independence is allied in character to enterprise, and is directly opposed to hesitation and decision; it is especially valuable before the enemy to have the spirit of initiative, and the object of future training should be, more than ever, to develop it.
The scattered nature and long duration of modern fighting, including it preparation and conduct in varying situations, increasingly require the development in junior officers and men of a clear perception of their duties and spirit of initiative. (The frequent failure in the performance of orderly duties is due, to some extent, to the range and precision of modern firearms, but individual lack of intelligence is also at fault. Duties, such as those of orderlies, entirely depend, for their performance, on the personal intelligence of the private).
We see from above that, while independent control of large forces has decreased with the development of means of communications, the necessity for initiative and independent action, within small limits, has very much increased and must be cultivated in the future. The study of a means of communication with forces on the move is now a pressing requirement. The Russians organize a wireless telegraph detachment towards the end of the war, and they have lately established a mounted telegraph section with the object of developing this mode of communication on the battlefield.
The development and improvement of the pulse of the army-communication-are urgently required.
3. DECREASE OF STRATEGY OF A SUBTLE OR INTRICATE KIND AND INCREASE OF A LARGE TYPE OF STRATEGIC ACTION
The concentration and supply of armies is dependent on the railway, and as railway construction is performed in peace, the direction of concentration in war is fixed, and large forces are unable to move far away from the line.
In the China-Japan War, where no railway existed in the field, there were many different strategical developments; but, in the Manchurian campaign, if we except the fighting in the mountainous country precious to the battle of Liao-yang, the operations were up and down the railway. While this was due to the ground, to the single line of railway, and to the special tactics of the opponents, a principal cause was that the enormous masses of men could not be supplied at a distance from the railway. For these reasons, we see that a pursuit, or driving operations, cannot be pressed with speed with a very large force. While there are several reasons why there were no big pursuits in the late war, one is, that a large force cannot be moved freely.
Railways traverse Europe in every direction, and this introduces certain modifications; but extension of railway systems increases the chances of breakdown and demolition, and adds to the difficulties of the rapid transport of large forces.
Again, the introduction of the telegraph has made a surprise attack on the enemy a matter of great difficulty. While on one hand both sides are rapidly informed of the situation, the rate of marching of an army remains unchanged, and so the enemy is advised while the movement is in progress; on the other hand, parties at a distance can be rapidly given an objective, and time is saved in preparations. Moreover, the telegraph connects the countries of the belligerents with the neutral states, and news at the seat of war become, in a few hours, the property of the world. Operation of large forces, unknown to the enemy, can hardly be carried out. Only by strict guardianship of secrets, both in the field and at home, may public knowledge of the actual facts be confined to a surmise that some such movement is taking place.
For reasons as above, and because of the creased importance in the utilization of ground features against the perfected firearms of today, collisions between forces on the march (which have not yet deployed) will hardly occur. The occasions when both sides posses the same numbers, character and moral in any engagement are rare, and one side or the other, being now rapidly informed of the condition of the enemy, will seek to remedy its inferiority by dispositions on the ground. In minor engagements, however, collisions between detachments in marching formation are likely to occur, as before.
We see, then, that the two great developments of transportation and communication have caused a decrease in strategy of a brilliant or intricate kind; but, at the same time, improvement of means of communication has made easier concentrating movements or enveloping operations, which formerly were considered strategically dangerous.
In the age of Napoleon, as there was no telegraph, operations on interior lines were considered the proper course; concentration could be more rapidly effected, and the enemy taken in detail. It was one of Napoleon's principles, never to concentrate a scattered force in front of the enemy. Today, forces that are scattered, are enabled to be complete telegraphic or signaling communication, and need not, as formerly, face an emergency unsupported.
Envelopment can be more perfectly and easily carried out, and, in addition, the modern firearms necessitates the construction of entrenched positions, the battle is of a more obstinate nature, and tends to last several days. Consequently, the army that is on interior lines, before it can overthrow the enemy in one direction, is in danger of the approach of his forces from others, and further, the scattered nature of the modern battle formations does not lend itself to rapid withdrawal.
Reasoning from the above, we find that today strategic envelopment is the best method of operations, and, further, that strategic envelopment enables a large force to be split up, and therefore provisioned with greater ease. In other words, divide to march, unite to fight!
While these observations apply generally, the possibility of strategic envelopment depends on the nature of and position of railways and landing places, and is not possible under all circumstances; and also the danger of division has decrease, but has not disappeared.
The improvement in means of transportation have immensely facilitated operations at a distance from home, and the transport of large numbers to long distance from their base in recent campaigns are striking instances of this.
In conclusion, we see that brilliant or skillful strategy is more or less a thing of the past, and that its place has been taken by strategic operations on a large scale. But, as has pointed out, one of the objects of training must be to cultivate initiative and independence of action, and to study the different phases of the battlefield.
4. INCREASE OF CASES OF COMBINED OPERATIONS OF ARMY AND NAVY
Formerly, before the thorough development of communications, arms, or vessels, military and naval warfare were quite distinct, and joint action was unknown. Today, the improvements in artillery material enable vessels, that are some distances from the shore, to fire on an object on land. Many instances of this occurred in the China-Japan and Russo-Japanese Wars. Also, at river-mouths or in rivers, torpedo or gunboats have frequently taken part in the operations on shore.
Although, in the Japan-China War, owning to ignorance of the Channel and the lack of suitable vessels, the fleet did not take part in the battle of the Yalu, in the Russo-Japanese campaign two gunboats, two torpedo boats, and two armed steam-boats took part in the engagement at that place.
Since the recent introduction of wireless telegraphy, combined operations between army and navy have been much facilitated. Formerly communications to, and inside the fleet could only be effected by signaling, which was frequently impracticable owning to fog.
Now that has changed, and orders or reports can be transmitted at any time and at considerable distances, a fact that must have a great influence on naval strategy and on combined sea and land operations. The development of submarines, torpedo-boats, and submarine mines have had a great influence on the attack of the coast or harbours by war vessels and considerably handicapped the latter, necessitating the mutual assistance of army and navy.
5. EXTENSION OF THE BATTLE FRONT, AND INCREASE OF THE RANGE AT WHICH ENGAGEMENTS ARE OPENED
With the increase in power and precision of modern weapons, as the battle line has become thinner, so has its extent increased. To take a single examples from campaigns, we find, during the period of the single loading rifles, as follows:--
At the battle of Koniggrätz (1866) 13 ½ men to each pace of front.
Calculating the strength of each army as 220,000, the battle front as 7 ½ miles, and each division as 10,000 men, we find that the average front of a division is 550 yards.
At the battle of Gravelotte and St. Privat there were about 9 Germans and 5 French to each pace.
The German Army numbered 187,000; the French 113,000; the battle front extended for about 11 miles; putting each division at 10,000 men, the average length of front for which each division was responsible was: German, 930 yards; French, 1,540 yards.
At the battle of Tien-chang-tai, in the Japan-China War, the Japanese averaged 8 men; the Chinese 2.4 men per pace.
The Japanese Army numbered 109,000; the Chinese 20,000; the extent of front was from 3 ¾ to 5 miles; each division was responsible for: Japanese, 4,620; Chinese 3,300 yards.
After the introduction of the magazine rifle, examples show, as follows:--
At the battle of Pei-tsang, during the Boxer trouble; here the fighting took place almost entirely on the right bank of the Peiho. Putting the forces of the allied nations at 13,000, the front of 3 miles, and a division at 10,000 men; the front of a division works out at 3,850 yards.
At the battle for Liao-yang to each pace there were about 2.75 Japanese and 3.75 Russians. As the right bank of the Tai-tzuho was completely separate, account is only taken of the fighting on the W. and S. of Liao-yang. Here the Japanese numbered about 106,700, and the Russians about 150,000; the front stretched for 16 ½ miles. Calculating each division as 10,000, the front of a division comes to: Japanese, about 2,900 yards; Russian, about 1,980 yards.
At the battle of the Sha-Ho, there were about 2 ¼ Japanese and 3 ¾ Russians to each pace; the figures are:--
At the battle of Mukden to one pace of front: Japanese (about) 1.8 men; Russians (about) 1.55 men. Leaving out the army of the Yalu, which operated independently, the figures are as follows:--
While totals have been taken in the above calculations (i.e., infantry, cavalry, and artillery have all been included), and more detailed examination would alter the figures to a certain extent, they show, beyond any doubt, that the battle front in modern engagements has been immensely increased. And, generally speaking, the battle front of the Japanese, compared with European armies, is thinner, due principally to the fact that the Japanese soldier is superior, man for man, to the enemy he has been opposed to.
Limiting the practical illustration to the above, I will now discuss, theoretically, the cause of this extension of front.
The power of the modern magazine rifle is 4 or 5 times as great as the old single loading rifle, as, for instance, the needle gun used by the Germans in 1866 and 1870. We may say, therefore, that the fire of a single skirmisher today is equivalent to that of 4 or 5 times in those campaigns, and, consequently, the front held by 12 to 18 men formerly, requires, now, only 2 to 4 men to develop the same amount of fire. But if, in the face of this fire, the enemy has succeeded in getting within close range, the difficulties of assault from thence have in no way diminished. Simply, to take infantry, the same numbers are enabled to hold 4 or 5 times the extent of front as formerly; and, with the further increase in the rate of fire, flatness of trajectory, use of machine guns, and improvement of artillery, this amount is likely to further considerable increase. Still, the necessity for a sufficient volume of fire to withstand assault, or in attack, to develop superiority of fire over the enemy, or men to take the place of losses; all these put a natural limit to the indefinite extension of the front.
The precision and power of the modern weapon have also caused an increase in the range at which a battle is opened. In the 1866 and 1870 campaigns, engagements were opened at about 2,000 metres, this being considered the limit of effective range for artillery, while the range at which infantry fire was exchanged was generally within 700 or 800 metres.
As regards campaigns in the Far East, in the Japan-China War, no marked change took place; but in the late war, the range at which the battle opened was increased to 3,000 or 4,000 yards; while shells sometimes traveled 6,000 or 7,000 yards. While, formerly, the rifle was considered ineffective over 1,000 yards, in the last war up to 1,500 yards was found effective for infantry, and rifle fire at 2,000 yards was occasionally used.
Those who argue that the power of sight puts a limit to the range of at which a rifle can be laid, forget that the advance of science enables the range of vision to be increased by artificial adjuncts, and we may expect not only artillery, but rifles also, to be fitted with telescopic sights of increasing power. This shows that the limit at which a battle is opened has not yet been reached.
The endeavor of the attacker is, as formerly, to open fire at short range, but as the defender's aim is to gain fire affect at long range, the assailant is obliged, in reply, to commence an action at a range which, as we have seen, modern firearms have made so considerable.
The time taken to consummate the modern attack is so long, and the fear of checks on the way so great, that it is necessary to cultivate an unquenchable spirit of attack, and to avoid all but the essential demands on the strength of the troops. The chief and unavoidable cause of the prolonged nature of the battles in the late war, and the amount of ammunition that was expended, was the long range at which fire was opened.
The increase of range at which an action is opened is connected with the extension of front. After fire has been opened, a long time must now elapse before the assailant can carry out the decisive attack, and during that time the defender is able, with his reserves, to extend his front; and, in the same way, the attacker will not from the first push forward a thick skirmishing line, but will gradually increase it, in order to diminish his losses, and also to develop a superiority of fire over the enemy. Thus the balance of superiority will sway from side to side until the forces approach each other, and one side gives way. Still, we find (not only in the late war) many occasions as the last moment of the assault, when the result is decided, not by the virtue of the firearm, but by the bayonet; by sheer strength and weight of numbers. On the battle-field against an enemy who has not been broken, it is necessary to resort to extreme and overwhelming measures, and, regardless of losses, to pierce the enemy's position. Again, at night, or in woods, of in fog, the occasions when charges will be made at short range will not be infrequent. Even on open ground the necessity for moral, to endure the hail of bullets, the stress and doubtings of the battlefield, is as great as ever.
Decisive results from fire actions alone will not happen unless the opposing forces are altogether unequal in nature. In the China-Japan War, the use of the bayonet or lance was very rare, while in the late war the use of both was frequent.
The naming of 500-600 yards, or 700-800 yards, as the "decisive" range, and the view, that within those limits an action is decided by fire alone, is without foundation. Within the effective range of the modern rifle, up to the moment of the assault, all ranges are "decisive"; results depend on the ground and the enemy, and it is impossible to lay down a "decisive" range definitely for all cases.
Not only is the arme blanche not relegated to the past, but in order to foster the spirit of the attack, bayonet and sword exercise must be practiced, and the fact impressed on each soldier that he will be called upon to use them in war. Moreover, the troops who possess the desire to get at the enemy with cold steel, retain the élan, regardless of the enemy's fire, up to the last moment.
The hardships and duration of the battle of today require, more than ever, a fierce spirit of attack.
6. ADOPTION OF ENTRENCHED POSITIONS, AND INCREASE IN THE DURATION OF AN ACTION
To protect the body against bullet and shell it is necessary to supplement natural objects by artificial means. And, as mentioned above, owning to the extension of the front, and army will not confine itself to a single feature, but will extend over various natures of ground, the weak points in which will require artificial strengthening.
Again, with the development of firearms and communications, the side on the defensive will usually prepare important points on the line of retreat, beforehand, and will retire on them in succession.
Also, the increase in the range at which fire is opened, and the consequent length of the engagement, provides time for the construction of works, both by the defense and by the attack. In the former it will be utilized to strengthen the works; in the latter, to diminish losses and to give increased facilities for fire during the stages of the advance.
The adoption of entrenched positions has made an engagement of a more stubborn nature, has necessitated (1) heavier artillery; (2) the use of night to approach the positions; or (3) flank or enveloping operations.
The battle does not occupy one day, but several; especially since the employment of large bodies, the movements of reserves, and the extension of the front take considerable time. Again, the front being relatively strong, flanking or enveloping operations give the best chance of success; still, even if one flank is driven back, the fate of the whole line is not, thereby, necessarily decided; fresh reserves are pushed up and the battle renewed, and it is not until several days of alternating success and failure that the result is achieved.
The limits of physical and mental powers are reached in an engagement of several days' duration, ammunition is expended, and many casualties occur. In the renewal and replacement of these, the services de l'arrière are taxed to there uttermost, and the prolonged battles of today depend for success, not only on the first line fighting troops, but on the efforts of the services in rear.
The duration of the Battle of Liao-yang (8 days), Sha Ho (5 days), Mukden (14 days), are unprecedented; and while it is due to the above mentioned causes, it must not be forgotten that the stubbornness of the Russian soldier, and the lack of troops on the Japanese side, were additional reasons. If the enemy had not been superior in number to the Japanese, or, if instead of the Russians the Japanese had been opposed to the French army, it is doubtful if the result would have taken so long to achieve.
The many days' duration of battles between large forces in the future, will require the elaboration of methods of supply, the conservation of strength and moral for the final phase, and the improvement of methods of ammunition supply.
7. PREVALENCE OF ENVELOPING ATTACKS IN THE EXCLUSION OF ASSAULTS ON THE CENTRE, AND THE NECESSITY OF A FUNDAMENTAL METHOD OF DEPLOYMENT FOR BATTLE
As mentioned above, modern firearms, and the use of entrenchments, have rendered positions so formidable as to make a frontal assault more and more hazardous. Experience shows that a frontal assault is likely to succeed only if one side is greatly inferior; or if the defender's front is unduly extended, or if there are gaps in the defense, or the attention of the latter is diverted, otherwise failure is to be expected.
Success is to be gained by flank attacks or envelopment operations, but this does not necessarily imply that the assailant must be superior in numbers; on the contrary, it is not unusual for inferior numbers successfully to accomplish this. The battles of Liao-yang and Mukden are examples. The success of these battles, in which the Japanese were numerically inferior to the enemy, was due to better and more economical distribution of troops (the occupation of main points, to the exclusion of unimportant ground), more skilful generalship, and superior moral. These enabled the numerically superior Russian Army to be enveloped and defeated.
As previously mentioned, the number of men per pace at the battles of Liao-yang, Sha Ho, and Mukden, were: Russians, from 2 ¼ to 3 ¾; Japanese only 1 ½ to 2 ¼. This difference was undoubtedly due to the better quality of the troops, and the more skilful generalship on the Japanese side. At the battle of the Sha Ho, the main force of the Russians, advancing south through the mountains, was held in check by a portion of the Japanese Army, while the main portion of the latter attacked with the intention of surrounding the portion of the Russian Army, advancing in the plains. The Japanese won the battle, but the forces engaged were very unequal in strength; and the Russians, moreover, recalled their main forces to the plains during their retreat; so that, finally, the main fronts of both sides were opposed, and the envelopment could not be effected. As a consequence, the action could not be brought to a conclusion, and for a long time both sides faced each other at short range.
This is one of the cases where superior leadership and moral cannot, with altogether disproportionate numbers, effect envelopment.
Flanking, or enveloping attack, giving the best chances of success today, it is of importance to lay down the distribution for the deployment of the troops at the commencement of a big engagement, in order that the troops should be so placed that, from the first, deployment can be made on a wide front to be attacked. If, on the other contrary, this distribution is delayed until after the commencement of an action, and mass formations preserved, during the considerable time occupied by a deployment, the force is liable to be surrounded, or diverted from its purpose by the enemy. The standing principle, that at the commencement of an action the enemy must be reconnoitered, and after the situation has been gauged, the plan of action decided on must not be lost sight; but applies rather to an action between small forces, or to one part of the field. It is inapplicable to as large engagement as a whole, though reliable information of the enemy, and just appreciation of the ground, is still required.
The conduct of the Russian Army at the battle of Mukden is an apt illustration of this necessity of deciding, before the commencement of an action, the deploying front and the flank for the decisive action, and it shows the disadvantageous moving about of troops, and the envelopment at the hands of the enemy entailed if it neglected.
Moltke said that "the strategic distribution of the forces (or strategic deployment) at the commencement of a campaign was the foundation of subsequent success." The determination of the mode of employment of an army at the outset of a big engagement is closely parallel, and is likewise the foundation of victory. The similarity is the natural result of the massing of immense numbers on one battlefield, and, just as strategic envelopment gives a definite advantage, so an enveloping or flank attack is the fundamental disposition for a big engagement commencing at long range.
8. INCREASE OF THE OCCASIONS WHEN RECONNAISSANCE IS MADE IN FORCE
Formerly, before firearms had reached their present development, the movements of the massed bodies of the enemy were disclosed at a glance, and their object revealed. Reconnaissance and scouting were, therefore, easier than now, when the precision and power of modern firearms, and especially the introduction of smokeless powder, make observation with the naked eye, or with glasses, a matter of difficulty. In addition, the general use of open formations and of cover makes detection difficult; while smokeless powder enables the enemy to open fire on our scouts. Without exposing his position; the protective screen thrown out in front of the main force also adds to the difficulties of reconnaissance.
The necessity therefore arises, for an increase of strength in scouts, or reconnoitering bodies, in order to thrust aside the enemy's covering force, and expose the situation in the rear. In return, the enemy tends to increase his covering force, so that we find that in the late war, reconnaissances in force were frequently made by bodies of all arms, especially in the latter stages, as at Feng-hua and Chang-tu. Here, while the two armies were facing each other, each posted covering detachments in front of the main position, and also continually sent out reconnoitering forces to attack the enemy's covering detachments. Thus, the reconnaissance action was of frequent occurrence, and not before it was repeated several times was it possible to gain a rough estimate of the enemy's main position.
Covering detachments thus resemble advance posts, with the proviso that advanced posts should offer as prolonged resistance as possible to a main attack. On the other hand, the object of covering detachments is only to oppose the operations of the enemy's reconnoitering force, so soon as it realizes that a main attack is intended, it had no other course than to fall back. But, owning to the nature of modern fighting, it is a matter of difficulty to determine at once whether the enemy intends a main attack, or a reconnaissance action. Consequently, there is a fear that a covering force, in the same way as an advanced post may be unwitting committed to a main action. But the advantage that a modern weapons gives to the defense, enabling a comparatively mall number of men to cause a large force of the enemy to deploy and to hold it check, have decreased the danger of committal to a main engagement.
This prevailing habit of putting out covering detachments and advanced posts requires the conduct of a reconnaissance in force, in order to clear them away and to expose the situation behind them. This display of force is never intended to be employed against the enemy's main position, but it is difficult at the outset to distinguish the main position from a covering position, and it is quite possible to penetrate unconsciously in to the main position.
Close approach to the enemy in these days of long ranges is not only a matter of great difficulty, but, when it has been accomplished it is extremely difficult to observe the action, therefore it is difficult, and heavy losses are incurred. It becomes, therefore, of great importance, in operations in force, to distinguish between the main position and advanced positions. To discover this, scouts will be employed to search every point in the enemy's front, and the fact whether the enemy's dispositions are continuous or not, is practically the only method of revealing the truth. If the reconnaissance in force of a main position is not converted into a main attack, it degenerates into an attack of a half-hearted or partial nature, as illustrated by the method of attack of the Russian 2nd Army at Hei-kou-tai. This was partly a reconnaissance in force, and partly an attack, and the Russians, instead of converting it into a main attack with their whole force, held back. The result was, that after a large and useless sacrifice of men, they retired to their original position.
From what has been stated before, we see that while the disadvantages from which advance posts suffer when opposed to an enemy's main attack have decreased, such advanced posts cause greatly increased difficulties in the reconnaissance in force of an enemy's main position. This is due to the advantages that modern firearms have given the defense, as against the attack.
As, owning to its difficulties, reconnaissance must now be backed up by force, cavalry employed in this duty can no longer simply depend on its speed and power of vision. It requires backing up by a volume of fire, and it is now an axiom that is must be accomplished by machine guns or horse artillery. Cavalry with these additions is able to reconnoiter an enemy at a distance, or hold a distant enemy in check, or, when the opposing forces are close together, to be entirely responsible for the protection and reconnaissance of the flanks; or to undertake raids on the enemy's line of communications. But when both armies are in contact, the reconnaissance of the front cannot be relegated to the cavalry, it must be carried out by a force of all arms.
Although the battles between large forces of the present day may not necessitate the study of minor tactics, yet for the purposes of reconnaissance it has become increasingly necessary.
Needless to say, spies are a valuable adjunct to the service of reconnaissance. The nature of the native population chiefly affects this question; but , unless a prolonged stay is made in one spot, spies will rarely be used. Also, on account of the unreliability of spies, they will be used in combination with other methods of reconnaissance (as single scouts or small patrols). All means of gaining information of the enemy should be employed, and it should be borne in mind that the reconnaissance in force is only resorted to when other means have failed.
9. DECREASE IN THE DISTINCTIVE CHARACTER OF FORTRESS, AS OPPOSED TO FIELD WARFARE
The use of entrenched positions and field fortifications is one of the chief features of modern field warfare. The contention that the admixture of methods of positional warfare with mobile operations is a useless check to the execution of the latter, is irrelevant. It goes without saying that the main objective is the enemy's field army, and that his fortresses with be neglected.
However, in the Far East, where communications are imperfect, and a network of railways not yet spread, the operations of a big force are governed largely by considerations of supply. The so-called "mobile" operations are not conducted with the mobility that the name suggests; a large force is unable to move far away from the railway, and a large turning movements, avoiding the enemy's fortified posts on the railway line, and striking at his interior, are operations of extreme difficulty. In the large plains of Europe, crossed by railways in every direction, the question is different, but free movement is as yet impracticable in the Far East.
Consequently, methods of position warfare are unavoidably intermingled with the field operations - heavy or siege artillery, and much expenditure of time are required to reduce the enemy's entrenched positions, and with the increase in numbers brought into the field, these features will become pronounced.
In the Far East, not only will there be regular fortresses to be besieged, but in field operations positions of the nature of fortresses will be frequently encountered. It is, therefore, necessary for divisions of the field armies to be exercised in peace in operations connected with fortress warfare, and that study of fortress tactics should go hand in hand with that if field operations.
10. INCREASE OF THE USE OF NIGHT FOR OPERATIONS
Formerly, night operations were usually conducted in a small scale, and with a small number of men, but in recent warfare, in order to avoid the effect of the enemy's fire, or to conduct an action on one day, or to deploy and to make all preparations to enable fighting to be commenced with daylight, darkness has frequently been made use of.
In the late war regular night actions, hitherto considered so difficult of accomplishment, were frequently occurrence, although the occasions when large forces, as a division or more, were used were rare. In fortress operations also, night operations were more frequent than formerly.
The power of modern weapons has greatly increased the difficulties of the close approach of the attacker in daylight, as compared with night. It goes without saying, that it is easier to reduce the difficulties of night movements than the effect of firearms in the day. Moreover, mechanical improvements, as portable lamps, dark lanterns, and searchlights, have, to a certain extent, facilitated the movements of troops at night. The constant improvement in the power of firearms, on the one side, and the march of science on the other, both tend to increase the use of night in the future.
Engagements are now not concluded in one day but stretch over several days, and consequently several nights. Attacks which failed in daylight, will be repeated at night; order will be restored; ammunition will be renewed; preparations will be made for the fight the next day; or, if separated from the enemy, contact will be again resumed; or arrangements will be made for pursuit. In short, night will be utilized to assist or complete the operations of the day, not merely, as formerly, as period of rest, but a time when the most important work is done. Success will largely depend on the use, profitable or otherwise, of night.
Cases in the late war occurred when a division was used in a night action; but the whole division was not deployed, nor came into hand-to-hand conflict with the enemy. The main body merely acted as a support to, and followed in rear of the first line.
In the present condition of science, the maximum that can be put in the first line, to actually oppose the enemy, is one regiment of infantry; that is, at one point.
In fortress or position operations, based on a fixed position, the necessity for artillery and engineers arises; that is, to hold a position against hostile attack at dawn, troops of all arms may be required in the first line.
A difficulty in connection with night attacks is, that after contact with the enemy has been gained, his retreat may not be noticed in time, and the opportunity for his pursuit lost. Night is the best moment for retreat, when the main body can be withdrawn to a distance, unknown to the enemy, and in order to be informed of a movement of this kind (since scouts are unable to pierce the enemy's outpost screen), reconnaissance at night, or, in other words, a species of night attack will be often necessary.
The chief weapon for night action remains, as before, cold steel; but if there is sufficient light to distinguish friend from foe, firing or hand grenades may be used. Also, the difficulties of carrying out night operations in pitch darkness are so great that unless there is certain amount of light from the stars or moon, resort must be made to star shells or searchlights.
The need for training and skill in the use of the bayonet, and, still more important, the cultivation of individual courage, is evident. Improvements in night glasses, rendering it possible to distinguish objective at night, may work a revolution in night operations. Further, the use of searchlights, or observation from balloons, facilitate the use of night for operations.
Since the difficulties of night operations are largely due to ground, and especially to obstacles, accurate reconnaissance of the ground in daylight is important. And, since detailed reconnaissance is generally only practical when both sides have been opposite each other at close range for some time, night will be used to bring an engagement to a conclusion, or, in fortress warfare, and not to deal an unexpected blow at a distance. Night actions were comparatively common in the late war, and also the occasions when both sides occupied positions facing each other at close range for several days were numerous. The tendency is for these conditions to increase, and with the improvements in science, and increase in the power and precision of the firearm, night will be more than ever used for operations in the future.
The contents of the above ten headings are almost entirely based upon the teachings of the Russo-Japanese War. The discussion does not enter upon difficult questions not yet solved, nor does it raise anything new, and in dealing with questions already generally discussed, it is not intended to be more than an aid to the understanding of the main features of the modern operations in war.
Questions dealing with education or organization fall outside the scope of this article; but it is, perhaps, permissible, in conclusion, to add a few words for purpose of reference.
Military questions must be looked at from two points of view: the material aspect, constantly changing with the development of the mechanical science; and, secondly, the moral aspect, which remains constant.
To sum up, the points that require attention are as follows:--
1. Military requirements are now so varied that army training must confine itself to essential matters only. For instance, infantry must be thoroughly instructed in skirmishing, fighting methods, scouting duties, night operations, bayonet exercises, field works, and fighting in trenches; while close order drill, dressing, and exercises in complicated formations may be more or less neglected.
2. When the chief desideratum was volume of fire, numbers rather than training and discipline were desired. But the late war has shown us in its frequent night actions and bayonet engagements that, rather than numbers, the need for highly trained and discipline troops is paramount. Moreover, the use of natural features in skirmishers and firing, scouting, and reconnaissance duties have made increased demands on the intelligence, decision, and initiative of the rank and file. The introduction of the two years' system makes the proper cultivation of these qualities a matter of serious moment.
3. A high moral (or spiritual) standard, or, in other words, the possession of loyalty and patriotism, is of absolute importance in war. Further, the qualities of endurance, thoroughness, quickness, and courage must be cultivated, and especially, in view of the difficulties and stress of the modern battle, a "spirit of attack" is of the first necessity. The endeavor of peace training should be to cultivate this quality to a high degree.
4. The progress of science has added to the rôles of the various arms. We now find: infantry, machine gun detachments, cavalry, mounted machine gun detachments, field (including mountain) artillery, heavy artillery, horse artillery, engineers, telegraph sections, railway sections, balloon sections, and transport troops. In future, engineers may be divided into field and fortress sections, or divided into muted or dismounted branches. Mounted infantry, or mechanical transport section may appear, or we may see the additions of mounted telegraph or wireless sections, or telephone or searchlight detachments, or mechanical transportation trains.
Multiplicity of divisions increase the difficulties of command, and this tendency, therefore, should be guarded against, as far as possible.
5. Battle training is usually confined to the action of one part of a large force, but training in co-operation should be practiced by an independent detachment, and unit commanders, and especially subordinate leaders, should be trained to acquire the habit of initiative and decision.
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