The work of a General Staff may be taken as consisting in preparation for war, and this again, both in Great Britain and abroad, consists of military policy in all its branches, staff duties in war, the collection of intelligence, mobilization, plans of operations and concentration, training, military history and geography, and the preparation of war regulations. These subjects are usually subdivided into four or five groups, each of which is dealt with by a separate section of the general staff, the actual division of the work, of course, varying in different countries. Thus, the second section of the French staff deals with “the organization and tactics of foreign armies, study of foreign theatres of war, and military missions abroad.” A War Office is concerned with peace administration and with the provision of men and material in war. Under the former category fall such matters as “routine” administration, finance, justice, recruiting, promotion of officers (though not always), barracks and buildings generally, armament, equipment and clothing, &c., in fact all matters not directly relevant to the training of the troops for and the employment of the troops in war. In war, some of the functions of a war office are suspended, but on the other hand the work necessary for the provision of men and material to augment the army and to make good its losses is vastly increased. In 1870 the minister of war, von Roon, accompanied the headquarters in the field, but this arrangement did not work well, and will not be employed again. The chief duties other than those of the general staff fall into two classes, the “routine staff,” administration or adjutant-general’s branch, which deals with all matters affecting personnel, and the quartermaster-general’s branch, which supervises the provision and issue of supplies, stores and matériel of all kinds. Over and above these, provision has to be made for control of all the technical parts of administration, such as artillery and engineer services (in Great Britain, this, with a portion of the quartermaster-general’s department, is under the master-general of the ordnance), and for military legislation, preparation of estimates, &c. These are, of course, special subjects, not directly belonging to the general administrative system. It is only requisite that the latter should be sufficiently elastic to admit of these departments being formed as required. However these subordinate offices may be multiplied, the main work of the war office is in the two departments of the adjutant-general (personnel) and the quartermaster-general (matériel). Beyond and wholly distinct from these is the general staff, the creation of which is perhaps the most important contribution of the past century to the pure science of military organization.
Comparative Strength of Various Armies
(a) Compulsory Service (1906).
|Annual Contingent for the Colours
Medically unfit and exempt
Excused from Service in Peace, able-bodied
Total of Men becoming liable for service in 1907
|Total Permanent Armed Force in Peace||610,000
|First-Line Troops, war-strength (estimated)
Second-Line Troops, war-strength (estimated)
Numbers available in excess of these (estimated)
Total War Resources of all kinds
|Annual Military Expenditure—total
Annual Military Expenditure—per head of
(b) Authorized Establishments and Approximate Military Resources of the British Empire (1906-1907).
Channel Islands, Malta, Bermuda, Colonies and Dependencies
Australian Forces (including New Zealand)
South African Forces
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- Note.—Ex-soldiers of regular and auxiliary forces, still fit for service, and estimated levées en masse, are not counted. Enlistment chiefly voluntary.
- (c) The Regular Army of the United States has a maximum authorized establishment (1906) of 60,000 enlisted men; the Organized Militia was at the same date 110,000 strong. Voluntary enlistment throughout. (See United States.) In 1906-1907 the total numbers available for a levée en masse were estimated at 13,000,000.
60. Prior to the Norman Conquest the armed force of England was essentially a national militia. Every freeman was bound to bear arms for the defence of the country, or for the maintenance of order. To give some organization and training to the levy, the several sheriffs had authority to call out the contingents of their shires for exercise. The “fyrd,” as the levy was named, was available for home service only, and could not be moved even from its county except in the case of emergency; and it