Topic: Soldiers' Load
All of the new death machines made things harder for the foot soldier than they had ever been before, it is true, but made him none the less essential in every military operation.
With a 70-Pound Pack (US Army, 1925)
Lawrence Journal-World, Lawrence, Kansas, 16 October 1925
Whenever a regular army man opens his mouth these days he must expect to have a critic pounce upon his words and show him where he is wrong. The Ottawa herald's military critic is inclined to be severe with General Summerall for saying recently that the main reliance of this country for the defence must be placed in infantry soldiers.
This, the Herald says, is just the traditional view—meaning that it is old-fashioned and behind the times. The Herald doubtless has learned that from the brilliant young aviators, some of whom were in training during the world war, who recently have been giving the country the benefit of their opinions on defence.
One of the curious things about General Summerall's statement, when carefully considered, is that it seems to be true. It would be an easy matter to blow the "traditional view" sky-high by producing some means of defence that would dispense with the lowly infantry man "with the dust behind his ears." This all the inventors have conspicuously failed to do.
Tanks, trench mortars, long range guns such as were never seen before, poison gas and combat aircraft were used for the first time in the world war. But no ground was gained and held by any of these means. The infantry had to occupy and consolidate positions. He was always at the finish of every job, no matter who began it. All of the new death machines made things harder for the foot soldier than they had ever been before, it is true, but made him none the less essential in every military operation.
The Herald makes us think of some of the fiction turned out in the early days of the war when imaginative American shrank somewhat from what they saw ahead. Innumerable stories were printed that featured some imaginary invention which mowed the enemy down without loss or hard work on our side.
All these fancies belong in the category of things that haven't happened yet. Let us imagine all we please a war confined to the air, the men who will win the next one probably will do a lot of foot-slogging, just as has been done in the past.