A. P. Skugarevski


Subtitle: Views of a Russian General - Translated by John Johnson - The article was reprinted in 1916 in The Journal, a publication of the American, The Military Service Institution. It had appeared originally in the London Times Russian Section, July 29,. 1916.


While some of the general's conceptions about the nature of future war may appear naive today, others proved only too valid. At any rate the article is interesting as an example of the genre and may be considered by those of us who are attempting the same sort of prognostication today.)


In the columns of the Russkoe Slovo General A. P. Skugarevski indulges in some interesting speculations on the changes in future warfare presaged by the present conflict.
It is impossible, he writes, precisely to divine the issue of the present war. We may guess, calculate, hope, even be convinced, and nevertheless nobody can say for certain how the present world war will terminate.
But at the present time it is possible fairly accurately to imagine the picture of the next war after this. The smaller the success achieved in the present war by the entente powers the sooner will the next war occur. If Germany is not conclusively conquered, if Europe does not secure real guarantees against a recurrence of what William II has done and is doing, a fresh war will inevitably take place in ten or twenty years. During this interval all states will increasingly arm themselves.

The new war will be, like all wars preceding it, an unprecedented war; it will be a war in comparison with which the present war, which will then be a war of the past, will seem child's play, as many now deem the wars of the past century.


Unprecedented Wars


All the wars I can remember were unprecedented wars.
Sevastopol found me a boy, and we were then told that this was a wholly unprecedented war; it lasted nearly four years, 1853-6; bullets fell like hail, and flew an enormous distance, nearly a thousand paces! Till then the range of rifle fire had not exceeded 300 paces, and even at that distance, as was jokingly remarked, it was impossible to hit a three storeyed house. Most important of all, the then new rifle bullet could not be eluded; wherever you turned it would be after you.


The Austro Prussian War of 1866 I can remember as an officer. Not fairy tales, but facts were told of it. The needle gun, which then made its appearance on the Prussian side, mowed down men like grass; rifle fire acquired special importance; the bullet ceased to be called a fool as was the case in the days of Suvorov. There appeared even fire worshippers. This war cost the Prussians two million thalers a day. Only think, was then said, two millions a day! The war now costs from twenty to thirty millions a day, and nobody pays any particular attention to it.


The Franco Prussian War of 1870-1 in its time was regarded as an unprecedented war: the Germans led into France nearly a million troops. This war caused a tension of the military forces of the state beyond which apparently it would be impossible to go. And, nevertheless, after it all, states, with Germany at the head, yearly increased their armaments. Armies began to be called armed peoples; readiness for war was reckoned by days and hours. But when the present war broke out it was found that all states, Germany among the number, were far from prepared for it.
The numerical strength of the armies of the biggest states two years ago was fixed at from four to five million men for war time, but twice, almost three times as many have now had to be put forward. For such numbers of men nobody, not even the Germans, had sufficient armament or equipment of various kinds. All this had to be created during the war. The states are now trying to get into the ranks all males capable of bearing arms; but these efforts at first did not attain complete success owing to insufficiency of rifles, guns, shells, cartridges, machine guns, air ships, ammunition, and even clothing, and also on account of inadequate cadres of officers and unprepared organization in general. The British had not even conscription, which they introduced a year and a half after the beginning of the war. Only after two years of this gigantic conflict are the states ready to begin an actual decisive campaign.


Armies of Forty Millions


In a future war, in ten or twenty years, we may expect that this will not be the case; humanity must at last learn how to prepare for war. In the future struggle of nations all men capable of bearing arms will be taken into the ranks of the armies, and for them everything will be ready in peacetime. What kind of army will Russia then have to establish?
In Obuchev's Military Statistical Annual Buniakovski's distribution of men and women according to age is cited. Although these figures are old, the relative distribution of ages had not changed, as the latest information of the Statistical Annual of 1914 also shows. According to these figures it appears that out of the total population of the state males from twenty to forty five constitute 17.8 percent. But the experience of the present war has shown that both younger men from seventeen to nineteen (3 percent) and older men from forty six to fifty (4 percent) are called out for service. Consequently by fully exerting their strength a state can call out for war up to 25 percent of its population of the country.


In ten years the population of Russia will exceed 200,000,000; but in Germany it will not have reached 100,000,000. Consequently in Russia more than 40,000,000 men will be called out for war; in Germany fewer than 20,000,000.


The strength of an army is determined not alone by its numbers, but the quality of its discipline, organization, training, equipment, etc. not to mention the ability of its leaders. The present war has only confirmed this old truth. I will not enter into details of organization these form too special a question; I will refer merely to a few figures.


Conscription of Officers and Women


For an army of 40,000,000 not fewer than 300,000 officers will be required. To create such a corps of educated officers, and not hastily trained subalterns, out of volunteers alone is wholly impossible. It will be necessary to introduce conscription for officers; all young men who have received not even complete middle school education, will be obliged to serve as officers. This is even now partly the rule, but not in a sufficiently drastic form. It will then be necessary only to adopt measures to prevent the appointment of officers from persons not qualified for that position. In all schools of the empire not only drill and gymnastics will have to be introduced, but also scientific tuition of several branches of military knowledge.


A huge number of men are taken away from service with the colors by duties in the rear, where certain branches of male labor can be replaced by female labor - the manufacture of clothing, boots, many kinds of food, tinned provision, bread, many mill wares for the War Department, and so forth. Perhaps it will be necessary to introduce conscription for girls and childless widows, so that more men can be sent to the front.
Of course, while personal military conscription is thus strained, there will not be forgotten the interests of agriculture and factory industry indispensable for support of economic life in the country and providing resources for continuation of the war. The Germans, noticing that for the first year of the war the birth rate of the population had fallen, established special furloughs for married soldiers with a view to checking this fall.


Cavalry, Infantry, Aviation


In an army of forty millions there will be from twenty five to thirty million infantry; one to two million cavalry; about five million artillery, about a million sappers and technical experts of various kinds, and about five millions for rear duty staff, administration, parks, transport, hospitals and various economic institutions.
With the army will be as many as 100,000 guns, a million Maxims, tens of thousands of motor cars armored, freight, and light cars. By the beginning of the war at least fifty million gun projectiles must be prepared and five thousand million rifle cartridges. Besides machine gun detachments, each company of a regiment will have its portable machine guns on light stands.
If lastly, there should be invented a substance which when swiftly transformed into gas will not develop a great quantity of heat (at one time hopes were reposed in liquid air) instead of the present quick loading rifles self loading ones will be introduced (such as are used in machine guns, and there may even be self firing rifles Willie's project).


Aviation will receive special development in the future war. It is clear that in ten to twenty years every state will reckon the numbers of its dirigibles in thousands, and the number of its aeroplanes in tens if not hundreds of thousands. Private aviation ought to be encouraged. For the systematic application of such aerial strength military procedure will be introduced with maneuvers. Battles in the air between entire aerial flotillas will always be avoided: they represent material too precious to be risked in this manner, but the dropping of shells from above onto large stretches of country will be extensively practiced. And if the laws of war permit the application of inflammable materials and substances for the development of poisonous gases, then the raids of aerial flotillas will instantly convert large districts of several square versts into complete deserts, where every vestige of animal and vegetable life will be slain, and where large units of armies will be annihilated to single man.


Artillery and Transport


I shall not attempt to say to what caliber guns will be increased, but undoubtedly they will fire several dozens of versts and aeroplane will be an indispensable accessory of every battery to correct its fire. Perhaps Dover will be shelled from Calais.
Instead of fortresses, which cost so much in peace time, the fortification of entire lines will be projected in peace time. Before the war estimates of work will be made, materials and machinery will be prepared, and on declaration of mobilization these projects will be swiftly realized; fortified lines will be established in a few days where necessary and also in the number required.
Feeding of the future armies will likewise demand enormous means. Reckoning only two pounds of bread or biscuit per day per man for an army of 40 millions two million puds (32,000 tons), will be needed daily, for the transport of which 100 trains will be employed, and almost the same number for the transport of a single day's tinned goods. For the meat ration, reckoning a pound per head per day, and the average weight of cattle at 20 puds, if the war lasts a year, 20 million head of cattle will be required. And in Russia if cattle breeding does not develop and remains in the same ratio to the population as now there will then be only 60 million head of cattle in the country. Thus one and a half or two years of war will exhaust more than half of this quantity.


The Cost


The expenditure on the army during the future war will reach 200 million roubles ( 20,000,000) a day; thus a month of war will demand not less than five milliards and a year sixty milliards.
In time of peace Russia will have to maintain two and a half to three million troops, which will entail an expenditure of not less than a thousand million roubles ( 100,000,000) annually in the state budget. The re arming of the army with new rifles will also require not less than the same amount, while the introduction of new artillery may cause an outlay of several milliards of roubles. How much money will be needed for the renewal of materiel after the present war, for the replenishment of military, alimentary, and property supplies for the new war, it is difficult even to estimate: probably disbursements for these purposes will be reckoned in tens of milliards of roubles. \Payment of interest on the state loans now made will call for not less than two and a half milliard roubles ( 250,000,000) annually.


Preparations for the future war will entail such an exertion of the economic and financial strength of the country, they will affect such a number of intricate questions concerning the activity of many not to say all departments, that they will be beyond the power of any single ministry. It will be necessary to create a new government organ a Ministry of War Preparation. \Besides the existing material conscriptions military, transport, motor it may perhaps be necessary to introduce conscription for grain, meat, and fodder. All industrial establishments mills, factories, workshops, even handicraftsmen on declaration of war will have to work for the army in accordance with a special plan of mobilization. All these details will able to be carefully drafted in peace time in order to obviate defects connected with requisition and confiscation. Probably it will be necessary to have large distributing magazines, formerly maintained in the event of famine, but which will then be necessary in the event of war. The duty of supervising the activities of all these establishments will call for the appointment of a special staff of agents, provincial and district inspectors, controllers, and superintendents.
But I will not enter into particulars of these suppositions. One thing is undoubted namely, that a future war in 10 to 20 years will be unprecedented in comparison with previous wars. Expedients for the extermination of humanity will be of such a nature that everything of which we hear nowadays will pale in comparison. The number of killed will be reckoned by millions, of wounded by tens of millions. If such a war should last more than a year, then no measures of man breeding whatsoever will save the state from a reduction of the population, from the ruin and impoverishment of entire countries, from literally unbearable taxes and duties.


Possibilities of Safeguards


And, nevertheless, this war will be inevitable if Germany is not conquered and Europe does to secure herself by guarantees against what is happening in our time. Germany must pay, not only as the authoress of the conflagration, but as an example to other ambitious parties in the future. When Germany has been subdued, nobody will prevent the states by a universal treaty from limiting their armaments and from introducing militarism within certain limits, for which Russia made a proposal at The Hague Conference. An international tribunal must at last acquire power.
Some people think that this power can be defended only by the armed hand; while since it is impossible to create a kind of international Hague army, the decisions of an international tribunal will be equivalent merely to scraps of paper. No! The decisions of an international tribunal can rest, first, on the strength of public opinion. The present war has evoked such economic and financial disturbance in the belligerent states, such universal indignation at the barbarous methods of its conduct by the Germans, such huge losses in men, that society for a long time to come will sensitively and even morbidly regard any political event calculated to cause an international conflagration; it will unanimously express its protest by all permissible and even unpermissible means in government institutions, in the press, at meetings, and lastly in demonstrations, as we now see at Berlin, Vienna, and Prague. It will be impossible not to reckon with this public sentiment.


Secondly, if it should prove impossible to place an armed force at the disposition of The Hague Tribunal for the support of its decisions, it will not be difficult to equip it with the \power of capital. Many international disputes are decided by the adjudication of payments by one state to another. With this object each state by treaty can deposit in an Amsterdam bank a fixed amount, reserving the right to receive interest; while the capital itself can be placed at the disposal of the international tribunal for adjudication of payments according to its decisions. Various measures can be proposed for the restriction of militarism and some measures will have to be adopted if humanity does not which in the end to arrive a complete self extermination.