"IMPACT OF STRATEGY ON RECENT DEVELOPMENTS"
An Address by LIEUTENANT-GENERAL GUY G. SIMONDS, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., C.D. President-Toronto Brick Company Limited President-Frontenac Floor & Wall Tile Limited
Thursday, November 14, 1957
CHAIRMAN: The President, Lt.-Col. W. H. Montague.
LT.-COL. MONTAGUE: Guests and Fellow Members of The Empire Club of Canada: During World War 11 and for a few years thereafter, the name of today's guest speaker - Lieutenant-General Guy G. Simonds, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., C.D., was a household word to all Canadians who followed the course of the campaign. Subsequent events in the news of the day have diverted our attention from military matters as the main issue, and our memories are, at best, very short.
Consequently, today presents us with a timely opportunity to recapitulate a few highlights in the military career of one of our greatest Canadian soldiers, who has recently turned business leader on being appointed President of Toronto Brick Company, Limited, and of Frontenac Floor and Wall Tile, Limited.
Most of us can recall that General Simonds came to Canada from the United Kingdom as a small boy; attended Ashbury College, Ottawa, and the Royal Military College, Kingston; was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Artillery; graduated brilliantly from the British Army Staff College and, at the outbreak of World War 11 was lecturing in Tactics at the Royal Military College.
After his arrival in the United Kingdom in 1939, as a staff officer with the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, a succession of command and senior staff appointments followed. He organized and directed the first Canadian Army Staff Course; he commanded a field artillery regiment and, as Brigadier, an infantry brigade.
In 1943, he became G.O.C., 1st Canadian Infantry Division, with the rank of Major-General, and led its assault on Sicily and Italy. These operations were under the then Eighth Army Commander, General Montgomery, with whom General Simonds had previously seen service in North Africa.
General Simonds' performance in Sicily and Italy led to his promotion, early in 1944, to Lieutenant-General and G.O.C., 2nd Canadian Corps, and his subsequent brilliant leadership of that formation throughout the invasion of, and entire campaign in, North West Europe. For some weeks, during the illness of General Crerar, he commanded the entire First Canadian Army in that theatre.
At the end of World War 11, General Simonds was honoured by many allied governments, as well as by his own Sovereign.
We will now have the great privilege of hearing him deal with the subject, "Impact on Strategy of Recent Developments".
Gentlemen: Lieutenant-General Guy G. Simonds, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., C.D.
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIMONDS: Over the past two years, since I have been retired from the Service, I have tried, when I have had the opportunity of addressing distinguished audiences such as this to stir public interest in the subject of Defence. For two reasons: First of all, I believe the threat that confronts the free world is real and dangerous. Secondly, the proportion of effort represented in the collection of the taxpayers' money that goes in defence has been very heavy over the past few years.
We have only recently been told again that we have to expect that effort to be maintained. It is no good having a big defence effort unless it is steered and directed in the right directions.
I would like, to begin with, to review very briefly the background of this struggle in which we are engaged between the free world, on the one hand, and militant Communism on the other.
At the close of the Second World War the Western Democracies quickly disbanded and dispersed their military strength. Russia did not do so. On the contrary, if anything, she increased it and she modernized her military forces.
At first the Western Democracies were slow to realize the expansionist intentions of Communist Russia. Sir Winston Churchill called attention to it at the time of his speech at Fulton, but very few took his statement seriously, and it wasn't until the coup placing Czechoslovakia behind the iron curtain, and the Berlin Blockade, that the Western World began to realize there was truth in the words spoken by Sir Winston.
During that period the only deterrent available against Communist aggression was the possession by the United States of the atomic bomb and the means of its delivery, and the threat existed that if Russia overstepped the bounds and embarked upon an all-out war, that she would meet with retaliation, with atomic bombs on the heartland of her own country.
That provided the Western World with the opportunity to restore its military strength in face of this challenge, and to me, and some others (and I have repeated it very often), reliance on the threat of retaliation with atomic weapons as a deterrent, would last for a limited duration only. Never in history has a weapon for long remained the monopoly of a single power, and the challenge which it presented to the ambitions of Russia was such that she was bound to make a tremendous effort to try to neutralize that advantage.
I never subscribed to the ideas expounded by some for many years that we were dealing with a nation of backward peasants.
Now, there are two aspects of the strategic balance on which I particularly want to dwell this afternoon ... the technical and the geographic ... for the ability of the United States, with its Strategic Air Command to neutralize Russian aggression has depended upon maintaining a technical lead in atomic and thermonuclear weapons and the means of their delivery, and the possession of a group of geographic bases closely hemming the U.S.S.R. and her Communist allies.
I have cautioned from time to time against what I believe to be the danger of putting all our eggs in one basket and having an over-dependence upon this air atomic concept, for one could foresee the time when at least it would be brought into balance and neutralized. When the offensive in aerial warfare has such an advantage over the defensive that neither side had a really effective defence, inevitably it seemed a situation would arise where each side could equally threaten the other with total destruction, and neither side would be willing to embark upon a thermonuclear exchange.
We would then be thrown back upon dependence on conventional power which we were sadly ignoring and the Russians obviously were not.
Now, I would refer again those two strategic factorstechnology and geography. Neutralized as she was by this threat, logic indicated that Russia's first aim would be to eliminate or equalize it. They used enormous scientific and technological drive, not only to equal, but to surpass the military power of thermonuclear weapons of the Western World. If she could neutralize that advantage, then she could set about the process of aggression by proxy, stirring up satellites or others into open conflict to continue the process which had been halted, of gradual absorption of the rest of the world.
Gentlemen, it seems to me there is no disagreement between western political leaders on the objective of Communist Russia. It was stated again the other day, both by Mr. MacMillan and Mr. Eisenhower. It is to dominate the world, and she can do that as well by a process of slow erosion and nibbling away as she can by an all-out thermonuclear exchange. From the Russian point of view they want to take over a world that is more or less intact and a going concern, and not a heap of wreckage, charged with radio-activity. If the U.S.S.R. is able to neutralize the Western World's technological advantage she has the power and geographical position to again set about aggression by conventional means.
She has gained the advantage momentarily in the technological field, and I would say the next step would be to try and gain such an advantage in a geographical sense that if and when the technological balance becomes equalized again, she will in fact occupy the dominant position of power in the world.
Why has she succeeded in surpassing the technological lead on which the West has relied too heavily? We have heard the reaction of political leaders in the past few days to the shock they have received, saying, We must have more scientists.
Gentlemen, I would say to you that is a typical political response, because if you think on that statement for a moment, you cannot place responsibility anywhere. Is it the fault of our youth who are not interested in science and won't take science courses? It is the fault of our universities who are unable to teach science? Is it the fault of our society that will not offer sufficient opportunity to scientists? Where does the fault lie? You cannot say. It is a good way of brushing off an unpleasant situation.
But I would say to you that the Russian successes are not successes of science, they are successes in the conduct of human affairs. I believe we don't need any more scientists in the western world. We may need better ones. I would doubt that very much. I have had the privilege from time to time of meeting individuals who I would regard as very great scientists and very great men but our scientific efforts have been misdirected by the intervention of vested interests. We have not taken our problems objectively and given our scientists direction' to which their efforts should be addressed. That is where we have fallen down.
Now, I am not saying that we do not want to expand our base of scientific knowledge-that we do not want to devote more effort to basic research. But I would put my finger on this major fault-on faulty direction of our efforts. We want our scientists, first, above all, to stick to their last, to stick to their laboratories and turn out the essential answers. I think it would be very much better if they left strategy and international politics to those who have made a life study of those subjects, and devoted their attention to those things for which they are eminently qualified. Nor do I think that we want to indulge in such Hollywood claptrap as "glamourizing the egghead".
The really great scientist is not motivated by desire to become a "glamourized egghead" . . . he is led to achievement by his interest and devotion to the problems for which he is trying to expand the field of human knowledge.
I think any young men that we might recruit into the field of science because they thought they would like to be "glamourized eggheads" will make no contribution to science, whatsoever.
What we need now to recover from our present position is a clear direction of our scientific effort to those things which matter most. Not only have we had misdirection, but too much of our technical and scientific manpower is absorbed in making a marginal improvement in the motor car or refrigerator that Mrs. Jones bought last week, so they can offer a better one to Mrs. Smith next week, and not to the really important developments which are necessary for the salvation of our society. That direction must be devoid of the influence of vested interests.
Now, let me come to the geographic factor. We have to hold the whole free world together. I think that in Canada we too meekly subscribed to the fallacious strategy of a "fortress North America". It is only the modern version of the Maginot Line mentality. Regardless of what sphere of military activity you are considering, whenever you have a situation where attack has a very marked superiority over defence, you make a very bad investment when you invest in defence. There was far more excuse for the French embarking upon the idea of the Maginot Line than there has ever been for a strategy of a "fortress North America", for at that period there was a very close balance between attack and defence on land and so many theorists believed, that the defensive works could be made unassailable.
The difference which was decisive at that period was the elusive factor of morale and not very much more. Today the superiority of attack over defence in the air is of a totally different order and to spend money on passive defence in such circumstances is money badly spent. Until such time as we have in sight a defence which will be really effective against both the manned bomber and the missile, our own real defence lies in the threat of retaliation in kind. That is the stark reality. In the Second World War when attack depended upon mass bomber formations getting through to their targets, not with a single raid, but a whole succession of raids to knock out and to keep suppressed any important target area, if the defence could inflict a rate of attrition of something of the order of ten or fifteen per cent per raid against the attacker they could turn back the attack before total destruction could be inflicted on a target area.
An attrition rate of that order meant that in three or four raids an attacking force had lost something like fifty per cent of its original strength and no force could withstand a loss rate of that order in terms of aircraft and trained crews.
Today the problem is totally different. It requires one aircraft only to get through once to a major city and not only is the greater part of it obliterated but it is the opinion of scientists that that city could not be again reentered for some thirty-five years, because of the residual radioactivity.
So it requires a defence of the order of ninety-nine to one-hundred per cent effective. This is not attainable in terms of the radar controlled, winged fighter. I have said so repeatedly over a considerable period.
We have wasted some two hundred or three hundred million dollars on the production of the CF105 Fighter. I listened to an address about four weeks ago by the Minister of National Defence and he made the statement that the CF105 Fighter would have a useful service life of ten years. My first reaction to that was to try to think of any combat airplane which has had a service life of even five years, and I couldn't think of one. I doubt if anybody in this room could think of one either.
I am not speaking of transports like the old work horse, the Dakota. That was a civilian aircraft adapted to military purposes. I am speaking of combat aircraft, military fighters and bombers. Try to think ten years ahead, then turn back the pages and look fifteen years back in the past. The pace of scientific development is increasing, not decreasing. Fifteen years back takes us to 1942. The jet aircraft was not in existence. Atomic energy had not been harnessed. There were no atomic bombs, no thermonuclear weapons, no atomic submarines. All that has been achieved and has come into being in a period of fifteen years.
We know that even if it is only in prototype form, the intercontinental ballistic missile has been successfully fired by the Russians. The CF105 has not yet flown.
It is the prediction of the best authorities whom you can ask that with the prototype already flying, the Russians will have intercontinental ballistic missiles in quantity and of improved accuracy within a period of two or three years. How is an airplane which has never flown to be in squadron service in that period of time? It is impossible. And even if possible, the ICBM will then be the major threat, not the bomber. It won't happen, and it would be much better to admit an error and re-examine our position than to go on trying to defend bad decisions of the past.
I want to speak for a moment on the subject of civil defence. Up until very recently it was the policy of Civil Defence to evacuate cities. I don't know how many millions of dollars have been spent evolving and developing plans to that end.
I have maintained for a very long time they are quite impracticable. From personal experience, Gentlemen, I have controlled in the field forces in the order of 200,000 men. They were disciplined troops, constantly rehearsed in the form of training for the roles they had to fulfill in movement and battle. They were especially equipped with the best equipment that could be provided to make them mobile. They were supported by a vast administrative machine to provide them with all the means of living and fighting. Yet, I can assure you it was not an easy task to manoeuvre and control a force of that size. We have glibly talked of evacuating cities with populations of two or three hundred thousand without any rehearsal, without individuals knowing what they are supposed to do or where they are supposed to go. Is there any possibility of such a scheme working? None!
The policy of evacuation is supposed to depend upon what is called a period of strategic warning. It is assumed we would have a warning of imminent danger some three or four weeks before evacuation had to be put into effect, during which it could be organized and done in stages.
Two or three weeks ago Mr. Khrushchev was making very threatening statements and very threatening gestures in regard to Syria, Turkey and the Middle East and they still go on. Does anyone know to what limit Mr. Khrushchev is prepared to go in pressing what he believes to be an advantage there?
Mr. Eisenhower doesn't know. Mr. MacMillan doesn't know. Mr. Diefenbaker doesn't know. The only ones who know are Mr. Khrushchev and possibly a very small group of his closest associates.
If this idea of strategic warning was to have any effect at all, it would have had to have been put into effect three or four weeks ago, because if the real thing comes we will certainly get no better indication of Russia's intentions then we were given at that time.
Well, it is now being admitted that a policy of evacuation may not be effective and the latest scheme is to designate civil defence as the primary role of the militia. Gentlemen, I think that may very well result in the disintegration and destruction of the Militia. There are a great many people who would like to see that. Some have expressed the view openly, that the Army has no longer any role in future war. Others, not so open and frank about it, have been surreptitiously working towards the same end.
A soldier will do what he is told. We had ample proof in the years we spent in England before active campaigning started that the trained and disciplined soldier is highly adaptable. At no notice at all, he assisted in civil defence in the United Kingdom. He went out to help with the harvest, he went into factories on occasion, to help clear bottlenecks in war production. The trained soldier is very adaptable, and he will do what he is told when it comes to meeting an emergency. But take away his pride in being a soldier, and you will have nothing at all ... absolutely nothing. I seriously doubt whether the young men who in the past have been attracted toward service in the Militia are going to be attracted toward the role of a civil defence corps. In fact, the strategic situation which we face today is that within the next two or three years the Russians are at least going to be our equal in their power to threaten thermonuclear destruction and it they do not perhaps maintain a lead, they have this tremendous preponderance with which they can set about the over-running of the balance of the Eurasian Continent. It is not an exaggeration to say that the fate of the Middle East and Europe today hangs in the balance.
You have been told by the Supreme Commanders of NATO, repeatedly, that the forces there are inadequate and the defence of Western Europe depends upon the ability to build up rapidly and reinforce that thin shield which is there.
A year ago the regular element of the Army was severely cut back, in order to save the money to produce the CF105. Today a severe blow has been delivered against the future effectiveness of the Militia as a military reserve to back up commitments overseas. The strategic balance today between the three elements, I would say is something like this. I don't think anyone can dispute that in the air the offensive is completely in the ascendent. On the sea, the offensive is also in the ascendent, because the effort required to counter the threat of attack by the modern submarine is infinitely greater than is the effort required to create that threat.
But it is still possible to maintain sea lines of communication open. The most difficult problem of all is to avoid a devastating loss of shipping in the first few days when ships are on their normal courses, unprotected at sea and exposed to submarine attack.
Once a proper system can be organized sea communications can be protected by the combination of sea and air power.
Only on land is there still some balance between attack and defence. In Korea, the Chinese and North Korean Communists were, with complete air superiority against them, able to stabilize a front. Yet, it is on land where we are taking the biggest risk at the present time.
There is the very clear indication that if we continue to lose these land areas and their peoples, we can never regain them. That was the lesson of Hungary. If we don't support them and hold them within the Western camp, and we lose them, I do not believe we can ever regain them in the circumstances of the military balance as it exists today.
Yet that is where we are taking the biggest risk. It comes back to this fatal policy of "fortress North America", and neglecting to provide the means of supporting and reinforcing these areas overseas. If the rest of the free world with all its resources and manpower falls under Communist domination, then I would say it will be a very short time before "fortress North America" will be eliminated.
I would not like to end by sounding an alarmist note. I think we have to face the fact that the Russians have, as at this present time, a technological lead, something we have never believed to be possible, and have dreaded. To what extent they can play on that advantage depends on how many of these weapons they now have and their limit of accuracy. Have they got them in hundreds, have they got them in thousands? Is their accuracy at terminal range-ten miles, twenty miles or thirty miles?
Whatever the numbers of ICBMs the USSR may have now and whatever their present accuracy, in two or three years it seems to be the considered opinion of scientists that these deadly missiles can be extremely accurate and the Russians will have large numbers of them. The first essential step, therefore, is to make sure that before that situation arises we also have a means of retaliation which is invulnerable because strategic air command at that point will be extremely vulnerable. The next essential technological step is to devise a really effective defence against these weapons, for the side which has both an effective defence and the means of attack has the world in the palm of its hand.
It is my conviction that you will never see these weapons used and that the real danger that faces us in this period now is that Russia will step by step take over the rest of the world until we stand isolated-cowering in our "fortress North America".
I would say, Gentlemen, it is not enough for Western leaders at this point to say we have to spend more money. In so far as the development of the missile is concerned, more money is not going to make a great deal of difference to the pace of any program in the next few months. After further research and development, when it comes to production, perhaps, yes.
But I believe that what Mr. Eisenhower will have to be so bold as to say, is this. He has got to tell the people of the United States, and Mr. Diefenbaker has got to tell us, the people of this country, that if Freedom is going to survive we have to be prepared to fight for it in distant places and we have to take now all the steps necessary to enable us to do so speedily and with effect.
THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Brigadier W. S. Rutherford.