From Our Military Correspondent
What steps would the Government take to organise the whole of Great Britain on a military basis if war were to break out is a question that has been asked by several million people in the last week on two.
Before the beginning of the last war, well-informed army officers could tell you more or less what was going to happen: General Robertson, as the late FieldMarshal was then, and others gave confidential lectures in which they stated with uncanny accuracy not only what the German army would do but also where the British army would meet them.
Airplanes, the Difference
Since then, the air arm has taken away something of the glamour of war and has brought every town and village of the known world on to the battlefield.
If airplanes have made the work of the army more difficult they have not taken its place. Of the combinations that may occur, here are two, with suggestions as to what we might be able to do. First, if France were attacked by her big neighbour again.
The Navy and the Air Force would be the first in. The Navy holding the ring and attempting a blockade with much valuable experience on which to draw. The Air Force attacking at once, the huge and intricate movement system on which any large scale strategic plan must rest.
According to the mutual arrangements between our military advisers and the French, we should land troops: this time with considerable difficulty in face of air attacks.
In addition to the value of our highly mechanised and small specially trained force (we might be able to run to 60,000 men), the presence of a land force in our ally's country would have an immense effect on opinion abroad. Foch said he only wanted one English soldier and added " And I would see that he was killed!"
But there would he no more pouring men down the hill at Folkestone in their hundreds of thousands and into the " Line" in France, How armed manpower can best be used is still a matter of speculation.
The second obvious possibility is an attack on our most important line of communication, the Mediterranean. Ousted from Egypt or from Palestine, we should be very seriously handicapped in a world war.
These places form the only suitable area in which to concentrate rapidly the man-power and perhaps essential material available in our Dominions and India. Also, they provide a jumping-off place for almost every kind of fanciful expedition; it is the fanciful expedition of today that becomes the most common sense proposition of tomorrow.
The Navy and the Air Force would have to fight day and night for their existences and ours. Troops at the eastern end of the Mediterranean would be cut off completely for an indefinite period from home.
That would mean that supplies of all kinds, which to an army today include everything from potatoes to sparking plugs, would have to be sent a long way round, unless one of the Dominions undertook part of the business. Man-power could be produced from India and those of our Dominions that were taking part in comparative safety.
Where would the rest of the army operate?
Against the nearest and most convenient point in the territory of the particular country that had caused the trouble. This is all that any oracle could say at the moment.