An announcement has been made by the United States Government of the plans for the organization of Coast Artillery Units of the R. O. T. C. which will be established in about fourteen colleges and universities of the country that as yet have not been selected. This information is of double interest as it is the first expansion of the government's R. O. T. C. policy to other branches of the service than the Field Artillery, and as an important step in the re-organization of the whole system of the coast defenses of the United States.
In a recent interview with a CRIMSON reporter, General Edwards said that he favored aero, coast artillery, and infantry units, as well as field artillery units at colleges. The formulation of plans for a coast artillery R. O. T. C. may be an indication of further extension of the scope of the units by the government. According to the descriptive circular, the coast artillery was chosen as the second form of training to be put in colleges because of the important part it played in the world war, and because of its adaptability to the regular college curricula with a minimum of disturbance.
Coast Artillery Includes Many Branches.
The Coast Artillery Corps includes railway artillery, army artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, and part of the trench artillery, in addition to the strictly coast defense guns. The course provides for two hours of physical training per week, which may take the form of athletics. A minimum of three hours a week of theoretical instruction is required, including plane and solid geometry, place and spherical trigonometry, college algebra, use of slide rule, physics, (electricity, optics, statical and dynamic mechanics, physical laboratory work, theory of errors, and thermo-dynamics), American history, English, plane surveying, gunnery, and two hours per week of military instruction during the first two years. All these courses, except gunnery and the basic military course, will be taught by the regular academic staff, and, if practicable, even gunnery will be taught by the department of mathematics of physics.
The United States Government will provide such models, equipment. Lantern slides, moving picture films, and blue prints as are essential for the military features of the institution. Artillery material, panoramic sights, B. C. telescopes, and other military equipment will be supplied, and all students enrolled in the course will be given, whenever possible, opportunities to witness firings and the practical use of the material. As in the case of the field artillery course, there will be required summer camps.
Units Fundamental in Defense Scheme.
The organization of college coast artillery units is a fundamental part of the new scheme of the defense of the United States sea coast. The plan provides for radical changes in the coast defense policy of the government, so as to include as its basic element the utilization of railway and tractor ordnance of heavy calibre, linking the strategic points on he coast with existing railway systems. By means of the railroads and military roads capable of supporting heavy motor tractors, the whole system of defense will be changed from a static to a mobile one. For the officering of this new organization, the government is planning to commission at least 1500 college students yearly in the reserve.
Colleges Furnish Best Officer Material.
In Commenting on the plans for college R. O. T. C. units next year, the government bulletin has said, "The war has demonstrated conclusively that our colleges and universities furnish the best material for officers from civil life. A sound body, the ability to think clearly, and ideals of service, are part of what a college aims to give its students, and are the most important basic qualifications for an officer. In addition, practically every branch of knowledge has its military applications. In most cases a slight addition of material to a course, showing the military application of the principles taught, will add not only to the military value of that course, but will greatly increase its general interest and value to the student.
"A large portion, of the best, of the officers required by the American forces in the world war were obtained from students and graduates of our universities and colleges. A properly organized course of military training in the educational institutions would have increased very greatly the efficiency of the officers obtained from these institutions and would have decreased very materially the time required to fit them for service with troops.
"It is essential to the future welfare of our country that a reserve of officers, suitable for service with the various types of armament, be built up in our universities and colleges. This can be done by taking advantage of the military value of existing courses and adding thereto such military subjects as may be necessary. The standard engineering courses and selected courses in the departments of literature, science, and art furnish an excellent foundation for the training required for an officer of the heavy artillery, anti-aircraft, and artillery of position."