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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume I

Modern Armies require Machines, not Men, to Counter them

Modern Armies require Machines, not Men, to Counter them

The Allies have just been out-fought on the Continent by a large, fast-moving mechanised striking force supported by a large Air Force. These two enemy forces are still in being and could be used at short notice in the Middle East. It is this aspect of the problem that I wish to emphasise. With the lack of cover from sight and of tank obstacles, and the favourable surface for armoured vehicles, the Western Desert is even more suited for this class of warfare than the fields of Flanders.

The Garrison of Egypt is totally inadequate for present requirements both in numbers of men and in equipment. While the officers and men in the Armies of the East are well up to standard in physique and training, the Army as a whole is greatly handicapped. It is a mixture of Units, hastily thrown together, the armoured force vehicles are in the main obsolete, and the troops are for the most part armed with old, out-of-date equipment, obsolete artillery, and with an inadequate supply of signal stores, medical supplies and war reserves generally. In addition to the unserviceable nature and lack of essential equipment, our present garrisons, as compared with the Italians, show that we are weak in numbers and in aircraft:

British in Egypt, &c.
Army 149,000 men
Air Force 436 aeroplanes
Italians in Libya and Abyssinia
Army 445,000 men
Air Force 764 aeroplanes