13 MARCH 1953, Page 2

The Affairs of the Army

Mr. Head, one of the ablest Secretaries of State for War we have had for a long time, gave an encouraging account of the British Army when he presented to the House of COMITIOns 'Estimates totalling £526 millions. Nobody questioned his asser- tion that it was the best army we have ever raised in peace- time; it comprises the equivalent of eleven and one-third regular divisions, with a reasonably well-found reserve of ten more. All the regular fighting formations are overseas. Mr. Head spoke frankly of his anxieties : lack of married quarters, bad barracks, discouraging-figures for recruitments and re-engage- ments, the failure to obtain the necessary measure of inter- allied agreement on the calibre of a new semi-automatic rifle, whose lack is probably the severest single handicap from which the Army suffers. In other directions the situation regarding weapons and equipment is good. The new heavy gun tank, he revealed, will soon be having its user trials and is probably the most powerful engine of its kind in the world. A certain amount of controversy surrounds this latest development in the field-of armour. The new tanks, a regiment of which will be allocated to each infantry and armoured division, are admirably equipped for their primary role, which is to destroy other tanks; but their sheer bulk limits their manoeuvrability and, though they are attended by bull-dozers which will help to dig them in, their concealment presents almost insuperable problems.