HC Deb 16 March 1925 vol 181 cc1891-2

I have dealt with the question of numbers generally. I come now to an aspect which has a marked bearing on the adequacy of those numbers. I refer to the question of training and equipment. Our establishments as I have explained have been reduced to a minimum, and this minimum can only be accepted as sufficient on the assumption that in so far as training, equipment, and material generally are concerned, the Army is m the highest degree efficient and wed found. The training of the Army is progressing, and I have every reason to believe that a sound doctrine is being inculcated under ægis of the general staff. Although the elementary principles of warfare still remain largely unchanged, the great advance which has taken place in mechanical armament, movement, and equipment of modern armies, has inevitably affected the application of those principles. Last year inter-divisional operations had to be abandoned owing to foot-and-mouth disease, and divisions had to arrange for the training in their own areas, but in spite of this interference the annual report on training shows that the results of the past collective training season have shown a real and gratifying advance.

It is proposed this year to revive manœuvres for the first time since the War, and £95,000 has been taken in the Estimates for this purpose. For the purpose of these manœuvres, an area of 60 miles by 40 miles, with the centre at Andover, has been scheduled under the Military Manœuvres Act. Three cavalry brigades, four infantry divisions, and certain units of Army artillery will take part in these manœuvres, and also a Territorial infantry brigade and two tank battalions, while the Air Ministry will assist by providing a large aerial force. The most interesting features of these manœuvres will be the use of tanks and armoured cars in co-operation with both cavalry and infantry, the employment of mechanical transport for artillery units, and the extended use of wireless communication, with experiments in methods of interrupting these communications. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing the hope that landowners, over whose land these manœuvres will take place, will, as they have done in the past, give all the assistance in their power to promote their success.