Democracy and Military Service. Jean Jaurès 1907

Chapter XIII
Jaurès’s Bill[1]

1. All able bodied citizens from 20 to 45 are bound to help in national defence. From 20 to 34 they are in the first line, thence until 40, in the reserve; thence until 45, in the Territorial Army.

2. The citizens of the active army will be organized in divisions corresponding to the regions of recruitment. Each division will include infantry, cavalry, artillery, incl. engineers.

3. The recruiting is done by districts; the citizens are drafted into units corresponding to their district of domicile: these limits may only be slightly extended for cavalry, artillery, and engineers.

4. The education of the army will be in three steps: (a) preparatory (boys and youths); (b) recruit school, and (c) periodical after-trainings.

5. Preparatory, for boys from 10 to 20. This education will be more than a mere anticipation of military drill and manoeuvrings. It will be, above all, an education in health and activity, by gymnastics, marchings, rhythmical drill, games of skill and swiftness, and musketry-drill.

This physical education will be directed and controlled (1) by the officers (commissioned and non-commissioned) of the units to which the boys will be drafted, (2) by masters of public and private schools, (3) by local doctors, and (4) by a Council of Promotion. This Council, of 30 members, shall be elected in the regimental district by universal suffrage, and shall comprise representatives of all four arms.

Horses shall be supplied by the Remount Department for the use of pupils chosen by these instructors.

The instructors themselves shall have gone through a course of training for their work, in some normal school.

The families of the boys and youths under exercises shall be warned that notes will be taken of the pupils’ punctuality and zeal. Habitual negligence will be punished by different penalties on a cumulative scale; notably, by being debarred (at least for a time) from all public functions, and by being kept longer than the rest in the Recruit School. Prizes, on the other hand, will be offered for the best pupils.

6. Recruit School. Youths of 20 will be called for six months to the nearest garrison-town, to learn company, squadron, or battery manoeuvres. This work may be done in two instalments, but always within the limits of one year. The times shall be so chosen as to permit open-air drill and manoeuvres on all sorts of ground.

7. After-training. In the 13 years of active service which they have yet to render, these soldiers shall be called out eight times for exercises and manoeuvres. These will be alternately (a) minor manoeuvres, lasting 10 days and covering a fairly narrow radius; (b) grand manoeuvres, lasting 21 days, covering a wider radius and including instruction-camps.

Besides these compulsory manoeuvres, the Officers and Councils will try to arrange as much voluntary marching and rifle-practice as possible.

Each soldier keeps his uniform and kit at home, and is personally responsible for them. Armouries will be kept up, under guard of the civil and military authorities, in the towns or chief villages of the district.

In the Departments near the Eastern frontier, every soldier shall have his arms at home. Depots of artillery and cavalry shall be distributed about these districts, and a close network of communications of every kind — railways, steam-trams, motor-cars shall be instituted, in order that all the citizens of that region, by an immediate mobilization, may serve as a covering force for the general concentration. Aviation centres will also be created; and recruits from the whole of France, after a preliminary instruction of three months, may be called to do their remaining three months in the instruction-camps of these Eastern districts.

8. Promotion. The officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, will be divided into two classes — professional and civil. There will be no professional non-commissioned officers, except the recruit school instructors.

After three months of recruit-school, the smartest and best-educated recruits will be prepared to become non-coms. This choice will be made by the instructors, assisted by delegates of a Regimental Council. This Council will be composed of (a) the corps-commander, (b) representative officers of different ranks, and (c) members of the Council of Promotion (which is elected by universal suffrage). These candidates if they are still approved after the first three months’ preparation at the recruit school, will be sent for another three months to a non-commissioned officers’ school, and employed as corporals or sergeants either in their own or in a neighbouring unit.

No recruit may decline such an appointment; if there are not enough voluntary candidates, the authorities may select recruits to fill the gaps.

Those who are in training in this non com. school will receive daily pay equivalent to their loss of time. When promoted to non com. rank, they shall be sufficiently indemnified for the time that they spend at their duties. In every public employment their rank shall give them a certain seniority. Private employers (who will be formed into Divisionary Associations) will be bound to give them employment suitable to their aptitudes. At the age of fifty, they will be entitled to a pension. Moreover, promotion will be so arranged that non-coms. may obtain seniority, and that a considerable proportion may rise to sub lieutenant or lieutenant.

9. One-third of the commissioned officers shall be professional soldiers.

Labour organizations of all kinds — trades unions, benefit and co-operative societies — are authorized to contribute towards the expenses of such sons of their own members as have passed the necessary examinations and can study for promotion to the rank of officer.

Students who have passed the Bachelor examination[2] shall be admitted by competition to sections of military studies created in the six most important universities, so that each main region of France shall have a section of its own. Such candidates must first have gone through their six- months’ recruit-school.

Those studies shall last four years, and shall be specialized for different branches of the army. These military students shall be taught as far as possible in conjunction with the other university students, in history, philosophy, political economy and science. They will use the neighbouring recruit-schools to learn the habit of command. They shall receive a daily allowance from the State, until the end of their course.

If their families are poor, these also shall receive an allowance. After these four years, they shall be gazetted sub-lieutenants. Their university years shall be counted for seniority, in order to hasten then. promotion to captain. Before each fresh promotion, they must again follow a special preparatory course, of at least twenty days, at the university, which shall prescribe the subjects of study.

The duty of these professional officers shall be to assist the teachers and the delegates of the Council of Promotion in the aforesaid preparatory training of boys and youths; also, to help in the training of civilian officers.

The officers shall be admitted by competition to a higher military school in which they will secure advantages for further promotion, and which will prepare them for the General Staff. This higher military school, one of whose duties will be to co-ordinate the teaching in the universities, will give successive courses of instruction in each of the universities which has a military department.

10. Two-thirds of the officers will be civilians, chosen from among the civilian sergeants and attached to their Territorial unit, or to a neighbouring unit.

A certificate of military studies, securing seniority for promotion to higher rank, will be given to any citizen who has followed special courses of study either at the university or at the capital of his department. No man may receive a diploma as doctor, lawyer, engineer or teacher, if he has not obtained this certificate of military study.

The civilian officers will receive pay. They will also enjoy a right of seniority in the different public departments in which they work. At fifty they may claim a pension. No non-commissioned officer may refuse a commission. If the number or the quality of voluntary candidates is insufficient, the authorities will have power to fill the vacancies.

11. Promotion will be partly by seniority, partly: by choice. Half the commissions given to civilian officers must go to those who have earned their certificate of military study. The other half of the sub lieutenancies and lieutenancies shall be left open for promotion of sergeants by merit alone. The higher ranks also shall be accessible to such sergeants, but in a diminishing proportion.

12. Commissions shall be given in accordance with lists drawn up by regimental committees and divisional committees, composed, as already described, of colonels, of representatives for the regimental officers, and of delegates from the Council of Promotion, chosen by universal suffrage. If it is necessary to proceed to voting, each of these three elements shall have a single voice.

13. Officers beyond the age of 34 may be kept at their own request in the active army. Nevertheless, they may, if necessary, be assigned by the authorities to command Reserve or Territorial units.

14. The Reserve units will be formed by men from 34 to 40, who have served in the neighbouring Active units. The Territorial units will be similarly formed. These Reserve and Territorial units will be officered partly by retired officers from the Active army, partly by sergeants front the Active army, promoted to higher rank in the Reserves and Territorials.

15. The Minister of War will aim at utilizing the whole Active army as a first-line army, and will keep this object iF view in all arrangements for districts of mobilization, for means of transport, and for commissariat.

16. The Army thus constituted, has one single object, — to protect the independence and the soil of France against all aggression. All war is criminal if it is not manifestly defensive; and it can be manifestly and certainly defensive only if our Government proposes to the foreign Government with which we are in dispute to settle that dispute by arbitration.

17. Any Government which plunges into war without having publicly and loyally proposed arrangement by arbitration, shall be held to have committed treason against France and humanity, and to be a public enemy of our country and of the human race. Any Parliament which has consented to this act shall be guilty of felony, and legally dissolved. The constitutional and national duty of all citizens will then be to overthrow this government and replace it by a Government acting in good faith, which, while perfectly safeguarding national independence, shall offer the foreign power either to forestall or to stop hostilities by a sentence of arbitration.

18. The French Government is herewith invited to complete treaties of arbitration with all countries represented at the Court of the Hague, and to regulate procedure for arbitration in agreement with those countries.

1. This Army Reorganisation Bill, brought into the French Parliament by Jaurès on November 14, 1910, is printed in his book as am appendix. We have thought it best to give it here almost in full since it seems necessary for a full comprehension of his arguments in his Chapter XI (ie. in Chapter XIV of this translation). — Editor

2. Roughly equivalent to the Loudon University Matriculation Examination — Editor