Page images

a free country. There will then be an end to the discussions concerning the application and continuance of individual or even certain classes of inspections; and the Secretary of War, as well as the Inspector-General's Department, will be relieved of all perplexity and embarrassment attending the settlement of any carefully cultivated contentions. So long as the law is silent as to the certainty, kind, and frequency of inspections, the occasional antagonism of individuals or organizations to the prescribed, thorough, and universal general inspection must be expected periodically; and quibbles about the channel for official papers and reports will appear to dishearten or take the pith from needed inspections. The fine art of avoiding, thwarting, or emasculating rigid outside inspections may not yet be entirely lost.

The inspections at present prescribed by law are those of unserviceable property, of disbursements, and of the Soldiers' Homes, both regular and volunteer. The inspections of military posts and camps and of the soldiers themselves, which is the first and fundamental duty of the corps, and of supply depots, of arsenals and armories, of recruiting stations and rendezvous, of national cemeteries, of hospitals and sanitariums, and of the military schools and institutions of learning having an army detail, of supplies and transportation and other branches of the military establishment are assigned to the department by its designation and immemorial custom and are explicitly required only by alterable regulations or orders. There is ample precedent for such legislation, some of the duties of nearly all the departments having been established by law. And usually any outbreak among the soldiers or irregularities in the accounts occur where the general inspections are infrequent or hampered. Carefully supervised general inspections have been steadfastly and successfully maintained, simply because they are sufficiently beneficial to warrant it, and when they are injured or ignored the damage resulting to the public service is displayed without great delay. It is believed most scandals in the military service are fairly foreseen and preventable if so permitted. But this may be recognized earlier or clearer by the experienced inspector than by others. How admirably the line of the Army was inspected and what admirable soldiers composed that Army when the Spanish war began may well be a pleasant memory. And the higher authorities have consistently recognized the worth of the system and maintained it resolutely from General Washington till now, which has proved a great encouragement. There are sufficient illustrations in and out of the Army how to smother inspections perhaps without positively intending it.

Adequate number for peace footing.


At times during the decade preceding the Spanish war, when our Army consisted of only 25,000 men, Inspector-General's Department had a force of 7 permanent and 5 acting inspectors-general; and this force of 12 inspectors, experience has proven, was absolutely necessary for a fairly thorough and complete inspection of the military establishment; and this complete inquiry into every branch of military affairs authorized by army regulations requires no little watchfulness and persistent effort. With an Army of 65,000 men, which is probably a low estimate of the force needed in future, there should be at least 25 inspectors-general; and this number is really 13 less than the number of officers now on duty in the department. There are few idle hours for these officers, and the work

has increased everywhere. The inspections of disbursements and of condemned property alone have quadrupled since 1897, and during the past year involved over $300,000,000, and $10,000,000, respectively. How acutely this service touches the regularity and economy of the service can hardly be fully known or appreciated outside of those officers upon whom the duty devolves and who have pursued its tedious routine through tireless days. The conscience of the Army belongs first to its rugged, soldierly duties in the face of the enemy, and only incidentally in these essentials of money and property, but here, too, it is habitually trustworthy.

The practice of detailing officers temporarily to the inspection department is injurious to the line as well as to the corps. Both are suffering by the operation; the one by losing the service of these detailed officers and the other by being subjected to constant changes. It is like robbing Peter to pay Paul, to say nothing of the delicate positions in which the officers may be placed by inspecting organiza tions in which they are interested, or officers under whom they may have to serve afterwards. The necessity of details is a forcible argument that the Inspector-General's Department should be increased numerically. An addition of 3 colonels, 5 lieutenant-colonels, and 7 majors is believed to be as low an estimate as seems consistent with thoroughness and efficiency. This would give the Inspector-General's Department 1 or more general officers, 6 colonels, 8 lieutenant-colonels, and 10 majors; in all, 25 officers. The work over sea demands the most careful attention and supervision and most experienced and reliable office s during years to come.

Inspectors act under the orders of the highest military Adequate rank. authority, and in the performance of their duties represent the authority ordering the inspection. Their responsibilities are equivalent to that of any command, and they are brought into personal contact under all kinds of circumstances with officers of all grades and with the various departments and military institutions. The rank of an inspector should, therefore, be proportionately higher than that of all other staff officers of corresponding service; otherwise neither his inspections nor his reports can command the deference or confidence which are freely given to higher rank, with the broader experience it indicates and the confidence it suggests. It is the same in all armies, and the habit which follows from it, of deferring to higher rank and title, is no doubt beneficial and necessary.

Inspections by an officer inadequately authorized or sustained are repugnant to the military sense, and may excite feelings of humiliation and resentment, and have a tendency to limit his observations and reflections. General Washington recognized the importance of the system of general inspection and this principle of proper military rank, and his inspector-general held the rank of major-general. And at one time all inspectors of the Regular Army held the rank of colonel, which is undoubtedly a good working rank to have now. In considering the proper rank for this corps, it may be noted that a brigadiergeneral was assigned to duty as inspector-general in the Division of Cuba, and the Philippines may have the same experience. Neglecting Cuba, we have at present 1 military division and 14 departments. The colonels are needed for such places as Manila, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, and upon expeditions of the first importance

like that to China, or at the centers of population and inspection; and the lieutenant-colonels and ranking majors at the various military departments and Washington, according to the requirements of the service. Assigning 3 officers to Washington and 15 at the division and departments, there are but 6 left to serve with such forces as the China brigades or the Philippine districts, or as assistants where the work is unusually heavy or sickness, detail, or death occurs. The Department of the East has 3 inspectors at present and Havana 2, and there is a field of usefulness for every one, and the difficulty in securing the officers desired have been occasionally great.

Judicial independence is the sine qua non of the Independence. inspector. It is not only a paramount necessity in the office of inspector, but should be plainly manifested by the officer himself; as without it inspections and special investigations are of but little value. This principle, so essential to the proper discharge of inspection duties, has received the full recognition of Congress in the law for the frequent inspection of the money accounts of disbursing officers, enacted April 20, 1874, by providing that such inspections shall not be made by officers belonging to the department to which the disbursements pertain; and also in the law for the inspection of unserviceable property with a view to its condemnation, enacted March 3, 1825, by expressly providing that such inspections shall be made primarily by officers of the Inspector-General's Department. The strong and persistent effort to have all inspections confined and controlled within the environment and branch of service under inspection is a familiar but should be seldom if ever even a partially successful experience. Inspections conducted under these laws by disinterested officers are characterized by great impartiality and independence, and freedom from suspicion of bias or personal interest. Necessity constitutes the raison d'être of the Inspector-General's Department, and this necessity should appeal in the strongest way for such an addition to the permanent force as will insure its continuance and development. The InspectorGeneral's Department should be wholly independent of all other branches of the service and be in a position to perform thoroughly and efficiently all the duties required of it; and to this end appointments to the Inspector-General's Department should have every branch of the service represented in fair proportion among the inspectors, and thus insure a collection of specialists skilled in all the departments-line and staff— of the Army. Careful selection for vacancies should be made in all cases from capable and efficient captains who may be experienced and imbued with the habit of command and the best methods of leading and caring for troops; and it is thought that the increased rank and soldierly status will be ample inducements for the best officers to seek the department. The inspection department fills such a position in the military establishment that every measure which will perfect the department, and give it ability, strength, and independence, must prove, under wise management, of greater benefit to the entire Army than is indicated by its mere number.

Elasticity to meet

of war.

The advantage of being prepared for any emergency the varying demands that may arise when the volunteer forces are called into active service can not be questioned. The number of inspectors-general should have a definite ratio to the volunteer forces which should be fixed by law beforehand, so that the inspection department may expand or diminish in number with the increase or decrease of the volunteer forces. It is believed that the minimum

number needed will be one inspector-general with the rank of major for every 3 regiments, or brigade; one inspector-general with the rank of lieutenant-colonel for every 9 regiments, or division; one inspector-general with the rank of colonel for every 27 regiments, or army corps; and one inspector-general with the rank of brigadiergeneral for each separate army of two or more army corps, and, say, 15 per cent for contingencies of death, sickness, leave, and other assignments such as Hughes, Lawton, Sanger, Garlington, Rolfe, Sharpe, and Murray now cause. This will give an inspector on the staff of every general officer commanding troops; and this was habitually done in time of peace, and surely is all the more needed in the face of an enemy. During the Spanish war, brigade inspectors-general were not authorized, though they were greatly needed at all times and more especially during the first stages of mobilization; and such officers as Generals Lawton and Lee found it advantageous to detail officers of their command as brigade inspectors. And a somewhat similar system seems to prevail now in the Filipino districts. It is an admirable method to insure the highest military excellence in the shortest possible time; and no better method has ever been discovered. The higher volunteer positions should be filled primarily by officers selected from the permanent force so as to insure the greatest possible efficiency and experience in the correct system of inspection and training from the start. All other branches of the staff of the Army are provided in some way with the necessary clerical assistance; but for the Inspector-General's Department no separate and certain provisions whatever are made. The frequent annoyances from this cause and the grab for and interference with the clerks and messengers assigned to duty with this department in field or frontier service is most damaging to the public service. The officers of this department are gentlemen of rank, who have been carefully selected for merited promotion, and for these very exacting duties, after many years' service; and their time is very thoroughly engaged in matters of wide importance to the service matters pertaining to the very essence of economical, honest, and efficient administration; and in their duties there is much tedious clerical work that it is extravagant and unwise to require such officers to perform individually. If any class of military duties requires adequate clerical assistance, it is this, as it relates to all others.

Adequate clerical assistance.

The clerks should be on an equal footing with paymasters' clerks, with the usual assurance of proper increase with length of service, so as to secure and retain men of ability and specially trained for the particular and important duties required of them, as well as insure permanency, reliability, and continuous service. Under the present method it is difficult to secure, in some cases, efficient clerks from the class assigned, especially in our new possessions; the rate of compensation in most cases not being fair for this class of employees. The services of trained and competent clerks are required, as they must be intrusted with a preliminary knowledge of investigations and afterwards be relied upon in the final preparation of important reports which are occasionally of a most confidential character.

Prompt dispatch of business pertaining to inspections and investigations and the rendition of reports is indispensable, if the fullest benefits are to flow therefrom; and it is therefore essential that inspectors be given adequate, reliable, and expert clerical assistance. But few things have caused more annoyance and uncertainty than the situation as to

permanent clerks, and those who obstruct complete and thorough inspections find this a favorite point of quiet attack.

inspections for all."

Evidently it will be in the interest of economy and Fair and thorough for the benefit of the service to have habitually the most thorough and disinterested inspections possible of the entire military establishment, in all its branches and features. It is an axiom that an excellent army responds best to such disinterested inspections administered without fear, favor, or hope of reward; and the efficiency of the service depends vitally upon the efficiency of inspection; and in order to secure efficiency in inspection, securing the best and most efficient officers for inspectors and an eye single to the public interests and the widest good are essential; and these officers should be permanently provided in good and sufficient quantity as well as in good and sufficient quality, and be given a fairly free hand and firm support in a wise and incisive observation of "every branch of military affairs. This is found to be one of the best means to promote uniform excellence and regularity, and one of the best remedies against disintegration and inefficiency and extravagance; though doubtless there are individuals who prefer some other way.


The work of the inspecting officer, when conscientiously performed, is probably as difficult and exacting as usually falls to the lot of army officers in any other line of military duty; and nowhere else will the qualifications necessary for a proper and thorough performance of the duty cover a wider range. Among these may be mentioned military knowledge and experience, power of observation and concise statement, judicial fairness, inexhaustible patience, readiness to encourage excellence, honesty of purpose, the courage of his convictions, adaptability to circumstances, undoubted honor and soldierly character, and perfect and ready tact. An inspecting officer comes alone into offices and commands, and is required to observe everything and submit his observations to higher authority. The authority he represents is interested in all he observes. There may be other specialists; but his specialty is observation and whatever military expenditure or duty his superior is interested in he should strive to duly observe and truly report. Evidently an extended and diversified experience is not only absolutely essential but assured; and enables inspecting officers, when familiar with their duties, to be of some service to their comrades and to do their part toward securing uniformity, contentment, excellence, and harmony, and toward adjusting all to the common task amidst conflicting ambition and interests and doubtful points of law, regulations, and orders, and all the possible variety of questions regarding the proper performance of military duty. This labor has been faithfully performed during the past year by the officers assigned to the duty; whether commendably or beneficially performed others must decide. Evidently it has made some impression.

Some persons may not consider general inspections equally if at all necessary everywhere, though experience has proved they are; but while they are universal it is gratifying if they can, by precept or example, be useful even to young and inexperienced officers, and so aid in the promotion of harmony and of uniformity in the manner

« PreviousContinue »