The Citizen Military Forces
THE re-introduction of Citizen Military Force training constitutes another land mark in the history of the Australian Army.
In the present state of international affairs few can doubt the wisdom of investing in an insurance policy in the shape of an efficient defence force. An impartial survey of the trend of world affairs is not calculated to strengthen the hope that Australia may not be called upon again to defend herself against aggression.
Under the conditions of war as they exist today, and are likely to exist in the foreseeable future, ground forces will be required. The age of "push button" warfare has not yet arrived, and, according to the best scientific advice, it is not likely to arrive for a long time.
In time of peace, Australia cannot afford to maintain on a full time duty basis all the forces she will require immediately upon the outbreak of hostilities. So far as the Army is concerned, the most the national economy is ab le to sustain is a small regular nucleus, backed by an efficient Citizen Force.
There can be no question of unhealthy rivalry or jealousy between the Regular Army and the Citizen Forces. In Australia we have only one Army. The regular and non-regular elements are both essential parts of it, each is complementary to the other.
If they are to fulfil their function the Citizen Forces must strive for the maximum attainable efficiency. In 1939 the enemy gave us many months in which to raise and train a field army. We would be over optimistic to expect the same good fortune in the next conflict. Indeed, the march of events tends more and more to lessen the time available for mobilization. Citizen Force training, therefore, must be based on the assumption that they will he called upon to take the field at very short notice.
During the war there was a tendency amongst those who did not know the facts to speak lightly of the value of pre-war Citizen soldiers. The fact is that despite all the difficulties under which they laboured the Citizen Forces fulfilled their function. At short notice they provided most of the regimental officers and non-commissioned officers required for the original formation of the AIF, and many of the staff officers as well. The AIF could not have taken the field nearly so quickly had these Militia soldiers not been available.
For many of the young men, officers and other ranks, now joining the Citizen Forces military service in time of peace will be a new experience. The degree of personal satisfaction they derive from this experience will depend entirely on the attitude of mind with which they approach the important national duty they are under taking.
Citizen Force service brings few material rewards. On the contrary it demands of its personnel, and particularly officers, considerable sacrifice and much hard work. At times it might appear that little progress is being made and that the effort is not worthwhile. Many times these hard thoughts must have occurred to the personnel of the pre-war Militia, but they put them aside and resolutely carried on. When war came the knowledge, the training and the background they had absorbed enabled many of them to rise to command and staff appointments of great responsibility.
Citizen Force service is a challenge to all that is best in Australia’s manhood. If the material rewards are few there is the immense satisfaction of being an energetic member of an organization that has but one aim--service to the nation. And there is the abiding feeling of warm hearted friendship that comes from association with men work in g for a common object and bound together by the glorious tradition of the Australian Army.
It has been truly said that democracies depend for their existence on the efforts of the many citizens who, in various fields of endeavour, give voluntary service to the community. Indeed it is this idea of community service that distinguishes the democratic way of life from all other forms of social organization and government. The voluntary acceptance of the obligation to prepare oneself to defend the nation in war is community service of a very high order.
In conclusion I should like to wish the members of the Citizen Forces every success and happiness, in the national service they have voluntarily undertaken.