25 NOVEMBER 1905, Page 3

On Wednesday a Minute was published, addressed by the Secretary

of State for War, to the Chief of the General Staff, dealing with the functions of that body. The Minute follows closely the suggestion of the Esher Commission, and contains the conclusions which were arrived at at a meeting of the Army Council held in August. The aim of the new develop- ment is to provide a thinking department for the Army, where the ablest soldiers will be gathered together, and a school of military thought formed to keep in touch with the latest developments of the science of war. The main provisions are that officers on the General Staff shall be selected solely on account of their individual qualifications, and that their number shall be kept small for the present. Appointments are to be for four years, at the end of which time the desirability of retaining an officer shall be considered. The general principle of accelerated promotion is accepted, which is defined elsewhere in the Minute as the system of "Brevet" up to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and substantive promotion beyond. There is to be no General Staff Corps, and the possession of a Staff College certificate, though desirable, is not to be a sine quei, non, for being placed on the General Staff list. We have no fault to find with the provisions, which are in them- selves sound and reasonable, but naturally we cannot feel much confidence in the inauguration of so important a new department by a War Minister who has already shown himself incapable of understanding the conditions of national defence.