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530
n
INFANTRY


an unnecessary and unattainable ideal of mechanical perfection, but to a state of instinctive self-control in danger. Drill, therefore, carried to such a point that it has eliminated the bad habits of the recruit Without detriment to his good habits, is stillthe true basis of all military training, whether training be required for the swift controlled movements of bodies of infantry in closing order, for the cool and steady fire of scattered groups of skirmishers, or for the final act of the resolute will embodied in the “ decisive attack.” Unfortunately for the solution of infantry problems “drill” and “ close order ” are often confused, owing chiefly to the fact that in the 1870 battles the dissolution of close order formations practically meant the end of control as control was then understood. Both the material and objective, and the inward and spiritual significances of “ drill ” are, however, independent of “ close order.” In fact, in modern history, when a resolute general has made a true decisive attack with half-drilled troops, he has generally arrayed them in the closest possible formations.

Drill is the military form of education by repetition and association (see G. le Bon, Psychologie de Féduzation). Materially it consists in D, .”, exercises frequently repeated by bodies of soldiers with a view to ensuring the harmonious action of each individual in the work to be performed by the mass-in a word, rehearsals. Physical " drill ' is based on physiology and gymnastics, and aims at the development of the physique and the individual will power.' But the psychological or moral is incomparably the most important side of drill. It is the method or art of discipline. Neither self-control nor devotion in the face of imminent danger can as a rule come from individual reasoning. A commander-in-chief keeps himself free from the contact with the turmoil of battle so long as he has to calculate, to study reports or to manoeuvre, and commanders of lower grades, in proportion as their duty brings them into the midst of danger, are subjected to greater or less disturbing influences. The man in the fighting line where the danger is greatest is altogether the slave of the unconscious. Overtaxed infantry, whether defeated or successful, have been observed to present an appearance of absolute insanity. It fs true that in the special case of great war experience reason resumes part of its dominion in proportion as the fight becomes the soldier's habitual milieu. Thus towards the end of a long war men become skilful and cunning individual fighters; sometimes, too, feelings of respect for the enemy arise and lead to interchange of courtesies at the outposts, and it has also been noticed that in the last stage of a long war men are less inclined to sacrifice themselves. All this is “ reason ” as against inborn or inbred “ instinct.” But in the modern world, which is normally at peace, some method must be found of ensuring that the peace trained soldier will carry out his duties when his reason is submerged. Now we know that the constant repetition of a certain act, whether on a given impulse or of the individual's own volition, will eventually make the performance of that act a reflex action. For this reason peace-drilled troops have often defeated a war trained enemy, even when the motives for fighting were equally powerful on each side. The mechanical performance of movements, and loading and firing at the enemy, undcr the most disturbing conditions can be ensured by bringing the required self-control from the domain of reason into that of instinct. “ L'éducali0n, " says le Bon, “ est l'ari de faire passer le conscienl dans Finconsrieni." Lastly, the instincts of the rc ruit being those special to his race or nation, which are the more dbwerful because they are operative through many generations, it is the drill sergeant's business to bring about, b disuse, atrophy of the instincts which militate against soldierly efigiciency, and to develop, by constant repetition and special preparation, other useful instincts which the Englishman or Frenchman or German does not as such possess. In short, as regards infantry training, there is no real distinction between drill and education, save in so far as the latter term covers instruction in small details of field service which demand alertness, shrewdness and technical knowledge (as distinct from technical training). As understood by the controversialists of the last generation, drill was the antithesis of education. To-day, however, the principle of education having prevailed against the old-fashioned notion of drill, it has been discovered that after all drill is merely an intensive form of education. This discovery (or rather definition and justification of an existing empirical rule) is attributable chiefly to a certain school of Frenc officers, who seized more rapidly than civilians the significance of modern psycho-physiology. In their eyes, a military body possesses in a more marked degree than another, the primary requisite of the “ psychological crowd, ” studied by Gustave le Bon, viz. the orientation of the wills of each and all members of the crowd in a determined direction. Such a crowd generates a collective will that dominates the wills of the individuals composing it. It coheres and acts on the In the British Service, men whose nerves betray them on the shooging range are ordered more gymnastics (Miisleetryliegulations, 1910 .

common property of all the instincts and habits in which each shares. Further it tends to extremes of baseness and heroism this being particularly marked in the military crowd-and lastly it reacts to a stimulus. The last is the keynote of the whole subject of infantry training as also, to a lesser degree, of that of the other arms. The officer can be regarded practically as a hypnotist playing upon the unconscious activities of his subject. In the lower grades, it is immaterial whether reason, caprice or a fresh set of instincts stimulated by an outside authority, set in motion the “ suggestion." The true leader, whatever the provenance of his “ suggestion, ” makes it effective by dominating the “ psychological crowd " that he leads. On the other hand, if he fails to do so, he is himself dominated by the uncontrolled will of the crowd, and although leaderless mobs have at times shown extreme heroism, it is far more usual to find them reverting to the primitive instinct of brutality or panic fear. A mob, therefore, or a raw regiment, requires greater powers of suggestion in its leader, whereas a thorough course of drill tunes the “ crowd " to respond to the stimulus that average officers can apply. So far from diminishing, drill has increased in importance under modern conditions of recruiting. It has merely changed in form, and instead of being repressive it has become educative. The force of modern short-service troops, as troops, is far sooner spent than that of the old-fashioned automatic regiments, while the reserve force of its component parts, remaining after the dissolution, is far higher than of old. But this uncontrolled force is liable to panic as Well as amenable to an impulse of self-sacrifice. In so far, then, it is necessary to adopt the catchword of the Bülow school and to “ organize disorder, ” and the only known method of doing so is drill. “Individualism ” pure and simple had certainly a brief reign during and after the South African War, especially in Great Britain, and both France and Germany coquetted with “Boer tactics, ” until the Russo- Japanese War brought military Europe back to the old principles.

But the South African War came precisely at the point of time when the controversies of 1870 had crystallized into a form of tactics that was not suitable to the conditions of that war, while about the same time the relations of infantry Bzjguth and artillery underwent a profound change. As War, regards the South African War, the clear atmosphere, the trained sight of the Boers, and the alternation of level plain and high concave kopjes which constituted the usual battlefield, made the front to front infantry attacks not merely difficult but almost impossible. For years, indeed ever since the Peninsular War, the tendency of the British army to deploy early had afforded a handle to European critics of its tactical methods. It was a tendency that survived with the rest of the “ linear ” tradition. But in South Africa, owing to the special advantages p of the defenders, which denied to the assailant all reliable indications of the enemy's strength and positions, this early deployment had to take a non-cornmittal form-viz. many successive lines of skirmishers. The application of this form was, indeed, made easy by the openness of the ground, but like all “ schematic” formations, open or close, it could not be maintained under fire, with the special disadvantage that the extensions were so wide as to make any manoeuvring after the fight had cleared up a. situation a practical impossibility. Hence some preconceived idea of an objective was an essential preliminary, and as the Boer mounted infantry hardly ever stood to defend any particular position to the last (as they could always renew the fight at some other point in their vast territory), the preconceived idea was always, after the early battles, an envelopment in which the troops told off to the frontal holding attack were required, not to force their advance to its logical conclusion, but to keep the Hgh; alive until the fiank attack made itself felt. The principal tendency of British infantry tactics after the Boer War was therefore quite naturally, under European as well as colonial conditions, to deploy at the outset in great depth, i.e. in many lines of skirmishers, each line, when within about 1400 yds. of the enemy's position, extending to intervals of IO to zo paces between individuals. The reserves were strong and their importance was well marked in the 1902 training manual, but their functions were rather to extend or feed the firing line, to serve as a rallying point in case of defeat and to take up the pursuit

(par. 220, Infantry Training, 1902), than to form the engine of