« PreviousContinue »
3,500,000, the proportion is about ten per cent. of the whole, without taking into account those under twenty.
Even those not recruited are not completely ignored. They are enrolled in the services complémentaires, or by professions. or trades are formed into special companies that in time of war furnish aids for the execution of certain tasks, like digging trenches, serving as couriers, drivers of wagons, and stable-boys, as well as clerks in offices, etc.
INSTRUCTION IN THE ARMY
Of all the problems raised in the organization of the Swiss militia, that of instruction is the most delicate. It would not be wise to give to a militia like that of the Swiss Republic, which at a moment might have to contend with the best troops in Europe, the benefit of half-instructioninstruction of the national guard given on a Sunday morning before going to church. On the field of battle an adversary would have no particular solicitude for the militiaman because his technical education was incomplete; he would be only too
happy if he would step more quickly out of his way. It is necessary that the militiaman be not inferior to the soldier of the standing army. The solution has been sought in the union of the following
First, to seek through the school and through rivalry in our national sports to prepare the boy for a military education of such a nature that when he shall arrive at the school for recruits he shall possess the rudiments of military instruction and the foundations of its discipline; secondly, to compensate for the shortness of the time spent in barracks by an intensity in the methods of instruction. To this end, to seek the greatest simplicity possible in the program, and to demand that it be given on a specially prepared card of instruction; thirdly, in the years that follow the school of recruits, to divide the periods of exercise and manoeuvers in such a fashion that the company shall not only maintain the knowledge already acquired, but that it shall be extended and perfected; and fourthly, to encourage and at the same time impose upon the militiaman the prac
tice of certain technical exercises throughout the whole period of his military obligations.
THE point of departure is the obligatory instruction in gymnastics in all primary and secondary schools. The uniformity of the principles of this instruction-what one might call its doctrine-is obtained through a "Manual of Gymnastics for Preparatory Military Instruction" and through its application in central courses designed for teachers of schools and instructors in gymnastics. Naturally, the military board is not alone at the head of this instruction, but also the higher committee of the Federation of Gymnastic Societies. Thus is obtained a uniform method that is used in the schools, in the civil gymnastic societies (the members of which are all military), and in the army.
Together with the instruction in gymnastics, certain secondary schools have a corps of cadets, to whom certain rudiments of military knowledge are taught, among the rest, practice with the rifle. This instruction is not obligatory, and is by no means general, only thirteen of the twenty-two cantons of the republic teaching it.
More general, but yet optional, is the instruction given in the division of mili
tary preparation. This instruction is given to youths between seventeen and nineteen, and is in charge of certain officers and instructors in gymnastics.
There is special need for familiarity with the rifle, its preparation for firing and the firing itself. The army furnishes the equipment, the arms, and the ammunition. In the school for recruits the young men who have taken part in these earlier exercises are carefully superintended; they are encouraged in their efforts, and in consequence a notable part of the body of non-commissioned officers come from their ranks. In the absence of instruction in this branch of military preparation, at home the future recruits may take up certain courses in gymnastics or sharp-shooting under qualified direction and in conformity with certain military prescriptions.
THE SCHOOL FOR RECRUITS
WHEN at twenty years of age the young recruit is called to the colors, small is the number that the gymnasium has not partly prepared for duty, and a relatively large number is familiar with the rifle and target-practice. More recent prescriptions. have still further stimulated the young men to acquire this elementary knowledge. of the soldier. An examination in gymnastics has been introduced at the time of
enrollment, and for a long time the recruits have been subjected to an examination in primary instruction. This examination bears on the subjects of reading, composition-writing, arithmetic, an acquaintance with civil government, the geography of Switzerland, national history, and the political constitution, of which a young citizen ought not to be ignorant. For each of these branches the recruit receives a record, which is officially inscribed on his certificate of service; that is to say, on the note-book on which is recorded an account of his service during the whole time of his military duties. If good, these notes facilitate him in his civil career, for by them his employer is able to ascertain his degree of instruction.
In effect, thanks in part to this institution, there are in Switzerland no illiterates except those imbeciles from whom all intelligence is absent.
Inasmuch as this examination deals with the domain of intellectual knowledge, an examination in gymnastics is required in order to obtain physical development. It permits a triple trial: a trial of speed over a course eighty meters in length, a jump
for distance without a spring-board, and the lifting of dumb-bells seventeen kilogrammes in weight. These results are also recorded on the certificate of service, and are a useful guide for the military instructors on the arrival of the recruits in barracks.
Above all, they are useful as a stimulant to encourage the cantons of the republic to perfect the instruction in gymnastics, each one of them desiring that its young men hold a good rank in the general statistics. This course has been in use only a few years, but already good results have been shown.
The duration of service varies according to the branch of the army. It is for sixty-seven days in the infantry and for the engineers; ninety-two days in the cavalry; seventy-seven days in the artillery and in garrisons of fortresses, and sixty-two days in the sanitary corps, the quartermaster's department, and the department of transportation.
The aim of the schools for recruits is essentially the making of soldiers. There is made an effort to draw out the individuality of a man, isolated in the ranks, by
instructing him in the necessity of discipline, submission to order, propriety, and punctuality. In the infantry the effort. is made to teach the young recruit to be a marksman, to be ready to be quick to extricate himself from any difficulty in which combat, the march, or a fixed post may place him; a clever digger of works of defense; and finally a soldier always ready to obey without hesitation the orders of his superiors and to second with heartiness the efforts of his comrades.
In other branches of the army, as the cavalry, the artillery, etc., the instruction is carried out on the same principle, keeping in mind the peculiarities of the branch of the service in question, as the duties of a horseman, the serving of cannon, care of horses and arms, and at the same time always insisting on the education and disciplinary action of the military service.
The school for recruits has a second. aim, that of forming non-commissioned officers and subalterns as well as captains, and at the same time developing the commanders in their rôles as instructors of
Their instructors, properly so called, constitute, with the commanders of divisions and corps of the army, the only permanent officers in the republic. This body is not a large one. In all, it does not number two hundred officers. But they receive a highly developed theoretical education, and above all are placed in a position for acquiring a very complete experience in their profession and a training in