[This Document is the Property of His Britannic Majesty's Government]



1. So far as munitions are concerned, the year 1918 is settled for good or for ill. No decisive changes in our modes of warfare can be produced in time to influence the campaign now opening. But it is imperative to decide quite soon what the character of the campaign of 1919 is to be. It is no use considering such a question in October or November. Practically a whole year's notice is required for any great development in material. We ought to have made up our minds by the beginning of April what the main principles and general outlines of our munitions programme for 1919 are to be. I would ask that this task may be undertaken at once.

2. We are immediately confronted with the fundamental question " How are we going to win the war in 1919?" It seems to me a reasonable expectation if every effort is made, and unity prevails, that by the end of this year we shall have established three very substantial facts which are now disputed: (i) either the German will have attacked in the West and have been repulsed, or he will have exposed himself incapable of delivering an offensive on a great scale; (ii) the submarine warfare will have entered upon a phase in which our tonnage will be greater at the end of every month, and not less as at present; (iii) the growing American army will be becoming a real and great military factor. It is possible we may add a (iv) to this, viz., a definite and unmissable ascendancy in the air both as regards numbers and quality. All these aims have, of course, to he fought for and worked for during the ensuing months. They are reasonable objects of endeavour. Failure to attain any of them would be disastrous to us. Our success, on the other hand, in attaining all of them will not necessarily be fatal to-the enemy.

3, (a.) We must further assume that a new front will be made against the enemy in the East by Japanese armies being brought as deeply as possible into Russia, and by every conceivable inducement being offered to Japan to come directly into collision and contact With the German forces. It will further be necessary to stop the spread of German influence towards India through Persia. This can only be done by sending without delay sufficient troops to dominate the Persian situation as was done by the Grand Duke in 1915 with such successful results, (b.) We must assume that while Germany is absorbing and dragooning Russia, Great Britain will continue to break up and devour Turkey as an offset, albeit unequal, (c.) We may balance the chances of an internal collapse in Italy against those of an internal collapse in Austria, it being assumed, however, that we shall do as much to hold Italy up to her task by the interpolation of trustworthy troops in the Italian armies, and by other forms of aid, as Germany has done since the beginning of the war, is doing, and will continue to do, for her weaker allies.

4. All these perilous matters being accomplished will bring us to the campaign of 1919, and if we get so far the question repeats itself, " How are we going to win then?" If there is no method of winning then which military men can discover, it will certainly he argued by many that it would be better to make peace at the last unfavourable moment in the present year, abandoning altogether the hope of a decisive victory in the war. It therefore

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becomes of the very highest consequence to discover what is the best plan for 1919, and whether there is any plan or use we can make of our resources which will give us a reasonable hope of a military victory.

5. It is clear that a military victory (apart from internal collapse) can only be reached by offensive action, and that offensive action can only be based on overwhelming superiority in one form or another. Even if all the favourable assumptions made in the earlier paragraphs of this paper are borne out, it is clear that no overwhelming superiority will be available for us in several of the main elements of war. For instance, we cannot expect any sufficient preponderance in manpower in 1919, even with the American armies, to enable us to overwhelm by numbers the German front in the West. The best it is reasonable to hope is that the two sides will be of about the same relative strength as in 1917, before the Russian collapse. Even this is highly disputable. On the other hand, we may fairly reckon on a good superiority in quality, which, added to the improvement in numbers, will give us once again in the West undoubtedly the stronger armies. Still, the margin will not be enough to oiler any prospect of a military victory by man-power.

6. There does not either seem to be any good prospect of winning a military victory through an overwhelming superiority in guns and shells. We are already at the limit of our shell production. We cannot expect that the tonnage of 1919 will, at the very best, do more than enable us, having regard to our depleting stocks, to maintain our 1918 standards. These give us no marked superiority over the enemy. Further, the limits of what can be effected by gun power have been coming very clearly into view. We see that after a certain point it tends to defeat its own purposes as an offensive weapon, for the ground is so ploughed up by the necessary artillery preparation that it is impossible for troops to advance over it. It is a very practical and pregnant question at the moment whether artillery has not been overdone, and whether in the disposition of our resources for 1919 both personnel and material should not be liberated from artillery for other forms of warfare. I will return to this later,

7. Again, it is clear that our polity of blockade, on which the Navy have hitherto relied, can no longer be counted upon to produce decisive results now that the Germans have got enormous portions of Russia at their disposal. Indeed, we are likely during the period under survey to suffer nearly as much inconvenience and political instability through lack of supplies as are our enemies.

I therefore return to the fundamental question. If you cannot starve oat your enemy, if you cannot bear him down by numbers, or blast him from your path with artillery, how are you going to win?

8. I wish to avow, however, at this stage in the argument, a firm conviction that the method and the means do exist by which in 1919 the German armies in the West could be decisively defeated and their front effectively broken up. No proposition of this kind can be stated in terms of certainty, because there are no certainties in war: but I believe that if the right decisions are taken now, it should be possible to impart, to the British armies in particular, and to the Allied armies in general, a means of continuous forward progression in 1919 which, if successful, would yield decisive results, and that the chances of success are good enough to justify the prolongation of the struggle in the meanwhile. I will proceed to indicate in general terms the lines of thought to which attention should be directed in order to realise the result.

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9. Wars have hitherto been conducted by infantry, cavalry, and artillery, and these are the three recognised arms of the service. It has also been observed, with some truth, that "the infantry is the army, and uses the other arms as its adjuncts." Whichever way the question is viewed, it is clear that there are no means of obtaining an overwhelming superiority sufficient to enable a continuous advance to be mane by any developments which it is in our power to make in the infantry, cavalry, and artillery in 1919. However, in the present war at least four new arms of the highest consequence have come into being, viz:—

Gas, and
Machine guns.

If we are to obtain the necessary superiority and the means of effective progression against the enemy, it can only be by developments of a far-reaching character in these new methods of warfare.

10. And let it here be observed that every one of these four new arms has already played or shown itself capable of playing a decisive part in the present war, in spite of the fact that they have only been tardily and partially and doubtingly developed. For instance, it is the machine gun which has made the defensive hitherto invincible. Again, if either side possessed the power to drop, not five tons, but five hundred tons of bombs each night on the cities and manufacturing establishments of its opponent, the result would be decisive. If the Germans had used poison gas on a sufficiently large scale the first time they used it at all and before we were provided with effective masks, they could undoubtedly have broken up our whole front in the West. Similarly, if we had developed tanks in secret, or at any rate in mystery, till we had about 3,000, and then had used them as they were used at the battle of Cambrai, only on a much larger scale and with carefully husbanded reserves of infantry to follow then: up, we in turn might have broken up the German front and driven their armies into a continuous retreat. We are clearly in the presence of new factors, all of which possess decisive qualities.

11. It must, however, be remembered that the total quantity of our resources is limited, and that the decision which has to be taken is one which involves the development of these new arms, both in men and: material, to a very largo extent at the expense of the old. Still, it is contended that this should be boldly faced, that we should create, in order to attack the enemy in 1919, an army essentially different in its composition and methods of warfare from any that have yet been employed on either side This would only be in accordance with the obvious principle that if you cannot get a sufficient superiority over your opponent in the same methods as he employs, you should break away and develop different and unexpected variants. Thus we may contemplate (a) relieving the want of man-power in the infantry, especially on defensive sectors of the Front, by great increases of machine guns, automatic rifles, and the like; or (b) putting most of the cavalry into tanks or other mechanical vehicles; or (c) drawing upon the artillery and the material which supplies it, as far as may be needed, to raise chemical warfare to its proper proportionate position in our organisation. It is unnecessary to speak of the air, for that is already accepted. We have undoubtedly the power at the present time of making such decisions fully effective for 1919 if we act without delay and upon a carefully thought out and ruthlessly

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pursued plan. The question is essentially one of proportion, but it is not capable of being solved unless the old proportions are definitely put aside and revolutionary changes in the composition of the armies and in their methods of warfare are unhesitatingly faced.

12. On the other hand, we need not exaggerate the extent of the changes which would be necessary. Let us assume—the figures are of course only tokens—that at the present time our military effort in men and material combined is expressed as follows:—

Infantry, 40 per cent.
Artillery, 40 per cent.
Air, 10 per cent.
Cavalry, 3.5 per cent
Machine guns, 4 per cent.
Tanks, 2 per cent.
Gas, 0.5 per cent.

The kind of change that is suggested might be expressed as follows:—

Infantry, 35 per cent.
Artillery, 30 per cent.
Air, 15 percent.
Cavalry, 0.5 per cent.
Machine guns, 7 per cent.
Tanks, 8 per cent.
Gas, 4.5 per cent.

This would give us an army substantially different in its composition from that of its opponents, and capable of confronting him with offensive propositions fundamentally different in character from those which he has hitherto disposed of.

As stated above, the Air expansion is already practically conceded. The development of machine guns and automatic rifles is also to a great extent assured; but the two most vital of the new arms, namely, tanks and gas, are at present only used on a miniature and experimental scale.

13. Yet in both of these we have immense advantages, inherent or acquired, over the enemy. Incomparably the most effective method of discharging gas is by liberating it from cylinder s to form a gas cloud when the wind is favourable. In no other way can results on the largest scale be achieved. Although for some time we and the Germans have relied instead upon firing gas shells from guns or mortars, there is no doubt that the original method in spite of its difficulty and danger is by far the most formidable. It is undoubtedly possible if the wind is favourable to dis charge gas over a wide front which will destroy life 13 or 20 miles behind the line, and which, if the discharge is sufficiently prolonged or intense, will render all existing masks; ineffectual The supreme fact is that the wind is at least six times, and some say nine times, as favourable to us as it is to the enemy. We are mad not to avail ourselves of this overwhelming advantage. But with our present pitifully small gas service of perhaps 6,000 or 7,000 men we are only trifling with the problem.

14, Again, take tanks. Here our advantage is due to our having staked far in advance of the enemy and having with painful slowness but extreme thoroughness explored the difficulties, tactical and manufacturing, of this highly complicated arm. The element of novelty has now been thrown away, but numbers, quality, organisation, and training still afford us opportunities of the first order if we only had the wisdom and resolution to profit by them. The year 1919 is still at our disposal. It is undoubtedly

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within our power to construct in very large numbers armoured vehicles of various types, some to fight, some to pursue, some to cut wire and trample trenches, some to carry forward men or machine-gun parties, on artillery, or supplies, to such an extent and on such a scale that 150,000 to 200,000 fighting men can be carried forward certainly and irresistibly on a broad front and to a depth of 8 or 10 miles in the course of a single day. The resources are available, the knowledge is available, the time is available, the result is certain: nothing is lacking except the will. We have never been able to get out of the rut of traditional and conventional methods. We have never been able to plan on a sufficiently large scale, long in advance and with the necessary force and authority to. drive the policy through. We have instead only carried out a series of costly experiments, each of which has shown us the chance we have lost and exposed our thought to the enemy,

15. It surely lies with those who shake their heads to say on what alternative method of attack or on what alternative form of superiority they can rely to win a military victory in 1919. Where are they going to get the numerical superiority which they had in the autumn of 1916 and the spring of 1917, and which was then found not to be sufficient? What more can artillery do in offence than it has already done in the great battles of this year and last? What grounds are there for supposing that we possess more staying power or more national discipline than the Germans? What more is to be looked for from the blockade? If there is an alternative plan let us have it. If not, let this one have its fair chance. Let it be backed with as good an effort as was given to the creation of the British artillery in 1915 and 1916, Let other interests be made to concede and conform to its essential requirements. Surely we ought to have a plan for which we can strive-and not simply go carrying on from day to day and from hand to mouth in the hopes of something turning up before we reach the final abyss of general anarchy and world famine.

16. There is a short way of ending this war; it is to defeat the German armies in the West. For this purpose two conditions are necessary; first, we must have stronger and better armies ourselves ; that is the foundation on which everything rests, and there is no reason why we should not have it in 1919. Secondly, we must discover a method of the offensive which enables these stronger armies to advance at a certain moderate rate of progression along their selected strategical lines. The problem is therefore definite and precise. Indeed, it is mainly mechanical. Discover a method by which a stronger army can regain its rightful power of continuous advance, and decisive victory is won. It is mechanical methods which are preventing that advance. Overcome these by mechanical agency, and courage and quality will once again receive their due.


17.. There is one other aspect of the problem to which I referred in my paper of the 21st October last, namely, the scale and intensity of a decisive conflict. War between equals in power is not an affair which can be carried to a result merely by quasi business and administrative processes flowing smoothly out month after month and year after year. It should be a succession of climaxes on which everything is staked, towards which everything tends, and from which permanent decisions are obtained. These climaxes have usually been called battles. A battle means that the whole resources on either side that can be brought to bear are during the

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course of a single episode concentrated upon the enemy. There has not been a battle in this war since the battle of the Marne of which this could be said. We in England particularly are misled by the increasing scale of our casualties, due to the increasing size of our armies, into thinking that the intensity of the conflict is greater now than in the opening stages of the war. The battle of the Somme in the period of its greatest fury involved no more than the engagement simultaneously of about twenty British and French divisions against probably half that number of Germans; and the battle of Verdun ceased when the battle of the Somme had begun. All the great operations of 1916 and 1917, although so prolonged as to cause very heavy losses, have involved the simultaneous employment only of comparatively small forces on comparatively small fronts. The armies have been fighting in installments; they have engaged perhaps 8 or 10 per cent, of their total strength.

18. The reasons which have led to this are well known. The power of the defensive is such that practically the whole spare artillery of an army has to be collected to support a single attack in which there is no room for more than a tenth of the available troops. There has never been, and there will never be, enough artillery to enable, say, six battles of Messines to be fought at one and the same moment. And thus the war in the West has dwindled down to siege operations on a gigantic scale which, however bloody and prolonged, cannot yield a decisive result. Thus, when a great battle is raging on the British front, six or eight British divisions are fighting desperately, half-a-dozen others are waiting to sustain them, the rest of the front is calm; twenty British divisions are remaining quietly in their trenches doing their daily routine, another twenty are training behind the lines; 20,000 men are at school, 10,000 are playing football, 100,000 are on leave. It is the same with the enemy. Obviously we have passed out of the region where the scale and intensity of the operations can be decisive on the great armies which are in presence of each other. Still less can they be decisive on the great belligerent nations. The idea of ending the war by "killing Germans" is a delusion. You have got to kill or totally incapacitate at least 700,000 Germans in every year, i.e., a number equal to the annual increment, before the slightest progress is made towards wearing down their manhood. And it takes at least one man's life to kill a German. We have to be, in short., merely exchanging lives, and exchanging lives upon a scale at once more frightful than anything that has been witnessed before in the world, and too modest to produce a decision.

19. Contrast this with the two first shocks of the war in the West, namely, the first collision on the frontiers or the supreme struggle at the Marne. In the first three weeks of the war, between the 20th August and the 10th or 12th September, the whole of the French and German armies, every division, every available man, were simultaneously, continuously, or repeatedly engaged in open and moving warfare. 1'he battle of the Marne, for instance, comprised not only those operations near Paris of which we have read, but a general battle on a front beginning 50 kilometres west of Paris right up to Verdun, and then round the corner far down past Nancy into Alsace, a total of certainly not less than 350 kilometres, along the whole of which the armies were at death grips, hurling their last reserves at each other. The French, although ultimately victorious, lost more men in the first twenty days of fighting than in the whole of the year 1917. The tempo of the war has progressively languished. It has steadily declined into a deadlock more perilous and mere agonising, more disintegrating in its effects upon the world, than any decision of armies, however sharp.

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20. Until the arrival of the Americans in force, that is to say, during the whole of this year, we are not in a position, without running a desperate risk, to seek a general battle; but next year, in 1919, we may again be unmistakably superior in strength. It will then be right to fight a battle; that is to say, to seek a military decision for which, the whole strength of the armies is employed— every man, every gun, every resource—within an exceedingly limited number of days. But how? By what means can we overcome the physical and mechanical difficulties that have hitherto imposed such severe limitations upon our actions? Possibly three times as many men as the enemy would be one way: we shall never have them, Three or four times as much artillery as we have at present might be another way: we shall never get it. There only remain these novel methods, good in themselves, better still in combination with the older methods. If on the British front we can only afford the concentrated artillery necessary to sustain say two great simultaneous attacks, and the French an equal number, must we not look for substitutes which will enable other attacks, supported only by the local artillery, to be delivered at the same time? Gas will certainly give you one of these. Tanks, if we develop them, could give us at least two of the highest order. Possibly trench mortars might offer another means. If the French and American armies followed similar methods, there is no reason why we should not once more see a general battle on a 300-kilometre front, applying in its brief course the whole strength of our stronger attacking armies, and yet with each attack supported by some scientific method which overcame the wire and machine guns of the defence.

That would be war proceeding by design through crisis to decision—not mere waste and slaughter sagging slowly downwards into general collapse.


March 5, 1918.