In the last issue of “QST” there was considerable said about the American Radio Relay League offering its assistance to the Federal Government for purposes of communication. The idea is of course a good one and one which every patriotic American who is a member of the League will commend. But the question arises, whether the offering of the League organization to the Government gives the latter just the form of help which it could best take advantage of. This matter would seem to be one worth further consideration.
The League has its own organization and its own methods of handling this organization. Without appearing to criticise these methods, it is possible that they might not suit the Government, or be the best for meeting the conditions which may arise in case of war or other trouble. It is like a private military organization, which might be very satisfactory to its own membership, but when it came to cooperating with the regular forces it might be very much at fault for the want of the right kind of experience, training or equipment. This is a very old story to those who have been connected with matters of this kind.
Rather than limit the value of a large group of amateur wireless stations to what it can do as at present handled, it would seem very much better if those amateurs who were best equipped would offer their individual services to the Government and leave it to the Government to work out the method of control.
This is not written with any idea of diverting any of the glory from the Relay League. The latter deserves much and will get it. It is offered only as a practical plan for carrying out the idea of offering amateur services to the Government. As a matter of fact it is more than likely the League could do more in the matter of starting the thing along than in any other way. As a means by which the Government could get into touch with the better class of amateurs there probably is nothing better.
The banding together of a group of people having certain equipment and training for Federal use is not a new thing. In Europe the automobile owners have had a Volunteer Motor Corps for a long time. They agree to conform to certain regulations, attend meetings at certain stated times and hold themselves in readiness at any moment to turn their motor car over to the Government, either with or without driver.They have drills and manoevers with the idea of being able to serve as a quick dispatch bearing service, a quick mobilizing force or a hospital corps. In the present war they have been of inestimable value. The owners of fast motor boats, it is understood have a similar corps. Of course there are a great many doctors corps for hospital service.
In none of these Corps is it intended to adhere to any rigid discipline, and thereby possibly work inconvenience and hardship to the membership. The principle point is to have a certain number of men available with their equipment at call. In the case of amateur wireless stations and their owners, it probably would not be considered necessary to call upon a volunteer corps for foreign or distant operating service. Such would render the amateur station unavailable. Rather, it is supposed that a Corps would be expected to offer their own stations and their own operating services if such were necessary. The station is the important element, as it is not mobile and its parts cannot always be assembled instantly. The ability to call into instant life a chain of good operating radio stations in various parts of the country, would be a very valuable thing under some conditions.
If the Government were to consider favorably taking charge of a Volunteer Radio Corps it would mean that only those amateurs who had first class tuned stations and who kept them in good working order would be considered eligible, in all probability. The Government has a way of choosing only the best and it is very likely that this rule would be more than ever adhered to in selecting a radio corps. That it would be a big honor to be selected by the Government, goes without saying, and it seems likely also that stations selected would be given special licenses to use the longer wave lengths, which would be a very agreeable concession.
It behooves the amateur, therefore, to look to his station equipment these days, and if it will not stand inspection to fix it so it will. If there is any thing to come of offering the amateur service to the Government, it will come suddenly, and some day we will find a Radio Inspector at the front door announcing that he would like to look your station over. If it is in good order, you will stand among the good ones. If it is not he will listen politely to your fine line of excuses and reasons why, but you will probably go down in the book as one of the no accounts.