Browning Clashes With Lane Over Purpose and Results of Student Military Training
Prepares for Citizenship He Declares--Admits Purpose Is Also to Produce Soldiers
"Preparation for war is not the object of present day Military Training at Harvard," declared Colonel W. S. Browning of the Military Science Department in a special statement to the CRIMSON last night.
"The real object of military training," Colonel Browning continued, "is to prepare for citizenship and to teach protection against war."
This statement was in answer to W. D. Lane's recent article on the military training systems in use today. This article was endorsed by Senators Borah, LaFollette, Shipshead, and Norris, and by many other prominent figures in American life.
The article states in part:
Intended to Make Soldiers
"The training is not the result of chance or of the action of local school or public officials. It is not the mere contagion of a purpose temporarily in the minds of many people. It is encouraged, supervised and regulated by the War Department. The purpose is to make soldiers. It is not training in citizenship, or any vague and ill-defined training of a general military nature. The official object is to provide systematic military training at civil educational institutions for the purpose of qualifying selected students of such institutions for appointment as reserve officers in the military forces of the United States."
"The courses of study used in these schools are written and supplied by the War Department. Their use is prescribed. No school can receive the benefit of War Department assistance if it does not use these courses. Moreover, the War Department, authorized by law, specifies the number of hours that students must spend on this military training. Credits toward graduation are conferred by colleges that give it.
"It is safe to say that, when the United States entered the war in 1917--and earlier, in 1915 and 1916--most people in this country conceived German militarism to be the enemy that we were fighting. No other conception could have given rise to the cry that we were going into the safe for democracy'. That militarism was believed to be extraordinary preparation for, and concentration on, war. We thought that the war was due in no small part to this pre-occupation with the military purpose and method. We believed then that no nation that required all of its young men to take training as soldiers could be regarded as strongly devoted to peace. We believed that militarism was in some way closely bound up with the universal, or almost universal, military service and training. Have we changed our opinion?
"During the last school year, that of 1924-25, military instruction was given in more than 226 educational institutions in the United States: The exact number is difficult to obtain. 226 institutions maintained units of the R. O. T. C., but as explained, the Secretary of War encourages military training in schools which do not establish R. O. T. C. For the schools with R. O. T. C. Congress appropriated $3.818,020 and the number of students taking military instruction was 125,504. To these schools, the War department assigned 768 officers and 1,064 enlisted men to carry on training; it paid their salaries. Before 1916 there were no R. O. T. C. units and the number of officers engaged in military in schools was only 119.
"Of the 226 R. O. T. C. institutions in 1926, 124 were of college or university rank, 63 were high schools and 39 were what are known as essentially military schools.
"The atmosphere of military training is not the atmosphere for the finest, the most thoughtful work along any line requiring independent thinking. Higher education ought to exist for the encouragement of independent thinking.
"Science, art, and culture are not and cannot be purely national. All learning is witness to the truth that above all nations is humanity.'
"Colleges and universities, therefore, are peculiarly inappropriate fields for military training and for the intrusive presence of a military bureaucracy. We Americans would have said this of any country in the world. There is no virtue of our own which makes us immune to a militarism which has played so fatal a role in Europe.
"The object of this article is to put facts into the hands of the American people. The public has not passed upon the question of military training for youth. It has registered opposition to the idea of universal compulsory training but upon the present near-substitute it has not spoken. Congress, under the emotion of a great European war, put into effect the National Defense Act, and in so doing authorized the President of the United States to introduce military training into civil educational institutions; the War Department is now showing what this may mean, but the general public has hardly known what was going on."
Best Known Universities Have R. O. T. C.
"It is interesting to note the names of these institutions. Many of the best known colleges in the land are on the list. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Leland Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Pennsylvania are there; Northwestern University and the College of the City of New York are included. Nearly every state university in the country is on the list, including such famous ones as the University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan. University of Minnesota, Ohio State University and others. Among smaller colleges of high standing are Rutgers, Lehigh, Lafayette, Georgetown, Boston University, and Western Reserve. The number includes many technical institutes, and practically all of the agricultural colleges. There is a large sprinkling of denominational and semi-denominational schools. In all of these colleges and universities military training is now an accepted reality.
"A large part of military training, including C. M. T. C., is sold to the public or to the college student by much talk about its being training for citizenship. It is better psychology to call it that than to say that it is training for war. General Pershing remarked that it must be popularized by all available methods."
Colonel Browning Expresses His Views
In commenting upon parts of the foregoing article. Colonel Browning yesterday said:
"It is to make soldiers that we are giving military training, but soldiers in the sense that we consider them in this country. The main function of the military man is to keep out of war. Here at Harvard we have no drill, no compulsory military training. We teach a man purely theoretically the science of war. We teach him to be a good citizen. In fact some college courses formerly were used in the military department to teach military history.
"In this country today a military force is retained which is barely enough to keep internal peace and protect the country against external aggression. The militant spirit is not taught but the qualities of best citizenship are instilled.
Compares Training to Inoculation
"In Germany, of course, the soldier predominates. The Kaiser was their greatest soldier. Yet here in our country a soldier must resign from his post if he is to assume an executive position in the government.
"To sum up the whole, military training in this country gives protection against war, and is the only protection, just as inoculation is the only known protection against some contagious diseases."